Studying the impact of critical thinking on the academic performance of executive MBA students

Fernando A. D'Alessio, Beatrice E. Avolio, Vincent Charles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

Developing critical thinking abilities is an essential aspect of education that has been the endeavor of many instructors throughout the years, as it is believed that it can lead to higher academic performance. The present paper aims to analyze the impact of critical thinking on the academic performance of executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) students. We perform multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to analyze the impact of critical thinking on the academic performance in a sample of 1620 executive MBA students, in each of four academic areas (i.e., Operations, Marketing, Finance, and Strategy & Leadership). The critical thinking variable is measured using the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA) test and the academic performance variable is measured by the average grades obtained by the MBA students. In terms of findings, it is reasonable to advance that critical thinking has a positive impact on the average academic performance of MBA students. The analysis and interpretation capabilities are involved in the planning process, while the evaluation of arguments, inference, and deduction are important for decision-making. Both sets of skills are trained in the Marketing and Strategy & Leadership courses, with better results than those obtained in the Operations and Finance courses that demand more mathematical-analytical capabilities, verification of information, and capacity for decision-making, and with a view to solving problems in a more structured way. Critical thinking, broadly defined as the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement, has not been previously studied, to the best of our knowledge, in relation to the academic performance of MBA students. We also aim to contribute to the literature with evidence from the Peruvian arena. Implications for practice are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-283
Number of pages9
JournalThinking Skills and Creativity
Volume31
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Academic performance
  • Business schools
  • Critical thinking
  • MANOVA
  • Student learning

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