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(Sage, 2014) Naylor, Lorenda Ann; Wooldridge, Blue; Lyles, Charles Alan
Global economic shifts are forcing universities to become more competitive and operationally efficient (Lipka, 2012; Stengel, 2012). As a result, universities emphasize access, affordability, and achievement. More specifically, U.S. universities have responded by emphasizing course assessment, retention rates, and graduation rates. Both university administrators and faculty members recognize that student cognitive styles are an important dimension in retention and graduation rates. Equally important the NASPAA requires graduate programs to meet universal core competencies and assess student learning outcomes. Within the context of US higher education trends and new accreditation standards, we examine the demographic characteristics and cognitive styles of 130 Master of Public Administration (MPA) students currently enrolled at the University of Baltimore, which is one of the largest accredited MPA programs in the U.S. Student cognitive styles are measured using a point in time Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) instrument. Key findings reveal that a stronger concentration in quantitative skills is essential in bolstering core competencies and student marketability in the global economy. Recommendations for course design and pedagogical modifications are discussed.