Date of Award

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Second Advisor

Heather Vonderfecht

Third Advisor

Larry Burton

Abstract

Problem . The quality of Internet-based distance education (IBDE) will increasingly become the standard by which students choose a program as higher educational options multiply due to the dramatic growth in distance education. A system-wide examination of perceptions of IBDE in Adventist highereducation is important to administrators for future institutional strategic planning purposes, systemic adoption of policies and practices that promote excellence, and identifying collaborative efforts.

Method . This was a sequential exploratory mixed-method study of the perceptions of administrators on IBDE. It was conducted collaboratively with Susan Smith who examined teacher perceptions. Data were collected for both studies from teachers and administrators at nine Adventist colleges and universitiesacross the United States. Research participants were first surveyed using an electronic version of the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) benchmarks. The survey was followed by a qualitative phase that involved telephone interviews with one identified expert in IBDE on each of the nine campuses.

Results . The results of this study indicate little difference in teacher and administrator perceptions with regard to performance on the IHEP benchmarks. However, the most problematic areas of the benchmarks that have significant implications for administrators include: visioning and strategic planning; student and faculty support; and evaluation and assessment. Administrators did express that IBDE was important and future plans were to increase offerings. In the qualitative phase, the themes of prevailing attitudes, collaboration, and qualities of an expert emerged in addition to the seven benchmark categories. Findings that were statistically significant were gender perceptions and the combined effect of experience and position. It was found that mid-level administrators with online teaching experience more strongly identified with leadership roles than teachers or upper level administrators.

Conclusions . There are several weak system components in Adventist Internet-based distance education. These areas include strategic planning for technology infrastructure and teaching with technology, policy and management structures, and monitoring and evaluation. Future research recommendations involve exploration of institutional collaborative models, distance education policy and procedures, mid-level administrator impact on distance education, gender differences, and testing and revision of the IHEP benchmarks.

Subject Area

Seventh-day Adventist universities and colleges, Distance education--Evaluation, Distance education--Computer-assisted instruction

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