The Acceptance of Online Education by Human Resource Recruiter

Session Description
A review of research regarding acceptance of online degrees by employers returns contradictory results. These contradictions suggest further research into the acceptance of online degrees by human resource recruiters would be useful. Some research indicates that the majority of employers prefer traditional education, while other research indicates that employers are not concerned whether the education was traditional or online. The majority of the studies are quantitative and study human resource personnel in all roles. While these studies seem to indicate employers prefer traditional degrees, they do not delve in-depth into why this bias might exist. Human capital theory, signaling theory, and stakeholder theory formed the conceptual support for understanding the potential impact of bias toward online education. The researchers explored if the gatekeepers of the hiring process favored traditional education and, if so, why this bias existed. In addition, the researcher investigated if there was a bias toward proprietary schools. The researchers used semi-structured phone interviews as the data collection method. A purposive sample ensured that the participants were appropriate. The researchers transcribed, coded, and manually analyzed the interviews for themes related to the acceptance of online education. Eighty-three percent of respondents believe online and traditional educations equal between accredited institutions. This finding marks a change from previous studies that found mixed attitudes among employers about online education. Respondents believe the trend to accept online education will continue. The researchers’ interpretation of the results is that attitudes toward online education are changing to a more favorable view, although some concerns remain among a minority of gatekeepers. One concern was the lack of social interaction inherent in online education, which did not influence a candidates’ progression in the hiring process, however. Another concern related not so much to whether the education was traditional or online, but to the reputation of the specific institution. The researchers recommend that online students participate in outside the classroom social activities to compensate for perceived lack of social interaction. Institutions offering online programs should obtain and/or maintain accreditation and strengthen their reputation for their graduates to be acceptable to businesses.
  • Mary Dereshiwsky, Baker College, Flint, Michigan, USA
  • John Vinton, Baker College, Flint, Michigan, USA
  • James Stahley, Baker College, Flint, Michigan, USA
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