Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communications Media

First Advisor

Mary Beth Leidman, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Zachary Stiegler, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Steven Kleinman, Ph.D.


This study examines hiring managers’ perceptions of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as compared to traditional degree-conferred forms of higher education in relation to hiring and employment decisions. Evidenced by current enrollment figures and growth projections, higher education trends reflect a transformation in 21st century education by moving toward free-sourced, open educational courses. Connectivism, human capital theory, and credentialism create the triangulated theoretical lens through which this study investigates the phenomena of MOOC-related educational offerings. A purposive sample of 202 active hiring managers and employers participated in an online survey that addressed the main research questions: a) What are hiring managers' attitudes toward MOOCs as a form of postsecondary education? b) What is the relationship between differing demographic characteristics among hiring managers and their perceptions of MOOCs as a viable educational source? Analysis of the data reveal that hiring managers have a clear preference for traditionally-educated job applicants but employer demographics, apart from organizational procedures, do not significantly impact their overall perceptions of MOOCs’ value. While MOOCs have the ability to increase prospective employees’ human capital, results from this study indicate hiring managers’ suspicion of communication skills developed through connectivist learning environments in addition to employers’ continued support for credentialism-based hiring practices.