Employability Skills with Purpose

Service Learning in Graduate Business Education


  • Molly J. Wickam Bethel University


Career skills, Service learning, Graduate business education


Problem: This non-experimental, mixed-methods, comparative, descriptive study examined outcomes of students’ development of employability skills through servicelearning participation in capstones embedded in MBA programs and assessed whether the inclusion of service learning influences students’ development of employability skills. Purpose: The purpose of the study was to examine the alignment between the employability skills employers need and the employability skills that graduate business students gain through service learning in business capstones. Method: Quantitative data explored which employability skills were enhanced by service learning in business capstones and whether there were differences in gender and GPA. Qualitative data were analyzed through semi-structured interviews from ten MBA graduates. Findings: The top three employability skills enhanced were decision making, presentation skills, and teamwork. Of these three, presentation skills was statistically significant, meaning capstones that had service learning enhanced presentation skills more than capstones that did not include service learning. Qualitative data revealed four themes: (1) Structure and Deliverables of Capstones; (2) Opportunities to Make Decisions; (3) Opportunities to Build Teamwork Skills; and, (4) Opportunities to Build Presentation Skills. Conclusions: There is alignment in the collaborative learning skills needed by employers and those skills enhanced through service learning in graduate business capstones, the instructor’s role in structuring and facilitating service learning is a key to learning, and presentation skills are enhanced during client-based business capstone courses that include service learning.


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How to Cite

Wickam , M. J. (2017). Employability Skills with Purpose: Service Learning in Graduate Business Education. Journal of Research In Business Education, 58(1), 51-64. https://jrbe.nbea.org/index.php/jrbe/article/view/39

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