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The impact of student engagement on satisfaction, retention and success of MBA students.

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ABSTRACT Student engagement is a construct that has been significantly associated with achieving student outcomes in Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s). It is a multi-dimensional construct that comprises of different perspectives such as behavioural, cognitive, emotional and agentic dimensions. Each of these perspectives are further divided into benchmarks that facilitate and measure student engagement. Student engagement can provide institutions with recommendations to better improve practices and streamline processes in order to provide students with a holistic learning environment. However, it should be noted that student engagement is a collaborative process that requires a joint effort from students, faculty members and the institution. The purpose of this study was to identify the relationship between student engagement and academic outcomes such as satisfaction, retention and success at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) and to assess the level of engagement amongst MBA students. Furthermore it examined the possible shortcomings in the implementation of student engagement in the GSB&L. Data was obtained from MBA students registered at the GSB&L and more evidence was gathered from the literature review. Data was collected through a structured questionnaire from one hundred and thirty-four participants and was analysed by means of descriptive and inferential statistics. The research findings revealed that the more satisfied students were, the more likely they were to engage in their learning process. However, it was noted that there was no relationship between student engagement and retention. The shortcomings were attributed to little or no student faculty interactions or support from the GSB&L. Most students that were engaged in the classroom reported achieving academic success. It has been recommended that teaching staff incorporate diverse perspectives, ideas from different modules and students’ strengths and weaknesses when teaching. This will make the subject matter more relevant and would increase student satisfaction and success. Despite retention not having any association with student engagement, respondents identified areas for improvement such as administrative support and meeting students’ expectations. It was recommended that staff and the management of the GSB&L engage with students in order to create a holistic learning environment. The research is limited in that it focused on one business school. It doesn’t provide an extensive view of student engagement at all business schools in South Africa. Future research should examine other business schools.


Master’s Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.