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. An examination of Internet-based distance education (IBDE) is important in order to maintain the delivery of quality higher education and to encourage the systemic adoption of policies and practices that promote excellence in IBDE. The quality of online distance education will increasingly become the standard by which students choose a program as their educational options have multiplied with the dramatic growth in distance education.

Method. This was a sequential exploratory mixed-methods study o f the perceptions of teachers on IBDE. It was conducted collaboratively with Pamela Cress who examined administrator perceptions. Data were collected for both studies from teachers and administrators at nine Adventist colleges and universities across the United States. Research participants were first surveyed using an electronic version of the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) benchmarks. Some of the IHEP benchmarks are faculty-controlled (i.e., course development, teaching/learning, course structure) and others are institutional-controlled (i.e., institutional support, student support, faculty support, evaluation and assessment). 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. Teacher and administrator perceptions varied little in regard to performance on the IHEP benchmarks. However, it was found that the most problematic areas of the benchmarks were institutionally controlled. In the qualitative phase, the themes of prevailing attitudes, collaboration, and qualities of an expert emerged in addition to the seven-benchmark categories. The respondents expressed that IBDE was important, and future plans were to increase offerings. 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 identified more strongly with leadership roles than teachers or administrators.

Conclusions. Issues affecting faculty members that require the greatest attention include: remuneration; allocation o f time for professional development; faculty support; and pedagogy development. Greater institutional commitment is needed in: visioning and strategic planning; student and faculty support; and evaluation and assessment. Future research recommendations involve teaching theory and methods, faculty support, loading and remuneration, gender differences, and testing and revision of the IHEP benchmarks.

Subject Area

Distance education--Computer-assisted instruction, Seventh-Day Adventist universities and colleges.

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