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Faculty Professional Development and Student Satisfaction in Online Higher Education

right Melanie Shaw
Robert Todd Kane Melanie Shaw
Witt Salley

by Robert Todd Kane
Melanie Shaw
Sangho Pang
Witt Salley
J. Blake Snider

With the ever-increasing availability of online education opportunities, understanding the factors that influence online student satisfaction and success is vital to enable administrators to engage and retain this important stakeholder group. The purpose of this ex-post-facto, nonexperimental quantitative study was to investigate the impact of faculty professional development, faculty degree status, and faculty longevity upon online student satisfaction and success. A large, archived dataset from an online public state university was analyzed. Repeated measures Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) analysis was used to explore changes in student satisfaction over time. Results showed that both training and degree were not significant predictors of student satisfaction. On the contrary, faculty longevity was found to be a predictor of student satisfaction. Recommendations for future research include incorporating qualitative analysis and expanding the study to diverse institutional types to determine whether findings are consistent.

Winning One Program at a Time: A Systemic Approach

Kay Zimmerman
Adam Schultz Kay Zimmerman

by Adam Schultz
Kay Zimmerman

Many Universities are missing an opportunity to focus student recruitment marketing efforts and budget at the program level, which can offer lower priced advertising opportunities with higher conversion rates than traditional University level marketing initiatives.

Status Tracking and Reporting the Quality Matters Process at the University of North Georgia

Nina Lamson David Babb
Robert Schmidt

by Nina Lamson
David Babb
Robert Schmidt

The University of North Georgia utilizes the internal Quality Matters (QM) process to review all their online courses. As our online course offerings have increased, the need to devise a system to track the QM process, ensure timely reviews, and begin recertification of previously reviewed courses was necessary. As a result, several reports have been devised to capture this process: 1) a master list of all online course offerings, 2) bi-weekly status reports, and 3) QM reviewer status reports. The process that is used and the resulting reports will be shared in this report.

Institutional Characteristics and Student Retention: What Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Reveals About Online Learning

Edward T. Chiyaka Alec Sithole
Fidelis Manyanga Peter McCarthy
Brian K. Bucklein

by Edward T. Chiyaka
Alec Sithole
Fidelis Manyanga
Peter McCarthy
Brain K. Bucklein

Online course delivery continues to grow as a viable means of providing increased educational access to more students, but low student retention rates remain a major challenge. In this study, key institutional characteristics that influence student retention in postsecondary education are analyzed. These are student-faculty ratio, graduation rate, acceptance rate, enrollment rate, institutional aid rate, default rate, and institution type. Using multivariable regression analysis, our findings show that graduation rate, default rate, and college type were significantly associated with retention rate among online degree-granting institutions. Furthermore, graduation rate was found to be strongly positively linearly related with retention rate, while default rate was strongly negatively linearly related with retention rate. Overall these findings have direct implications on the planning and management of online instruction.

Transitioning to the Learning Management System Moodle from Blackboard: Impacts to Faculty

Page Varnell

by Page Varnell
What are the workload impacts to faculty during a Learning Management System (LMS) transition?  What type of support is needed by faculty during an LMS transition? Transitioning to a new LMS may result in faculty problems with learning a new technology platform in addition to teaching. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the impact that an LMS transition had on faculty workload and instructional practices. All faculty interviewed expressed a need for additional support in the form of either a course release, compensation, professional development and/or mentoring. The results of this study can be used to increase alignment between administration and faculty and improve faculty job satisfaction.

Use of Immersive Simulations to Enhance Graduate Student Learning: Implications for Educational Leadership Programs

Robert H. Voelkel Christie W. Johnson
Kristen A. Gelbert

by Robert H. Voelkel
Christie W. Johnson
Kristen A. Gilbert

The purpose of this article is to present how one university incorporates immersive simulations through platforms which employ avatars to enhance graduate student understanding and learning in educational leadership programs. While using simulations and immersive virtual environments continues to grow, the literature suggests limited evidence of avatar technology currently used at the university level, especially in educational leadership preparation and other graduate level programs. The authors identify a step-by-step process to effectively employ the use of immersive simulations as a practitioner tool at the university level. This article provides a process for incorporating immersive simulations into graduate educational leadership programs that can be successfully duplicated to best support professional preparation of current and future educational leaders in developing best practices for stakeholder engagement, human talent management, instructional leadership, and other areas relevant to transformational leadership. The authors argue that immersive simulations do indeed better support graduate students.

Faculty Personality: A Factor of Student Retention

Cassandra S. Shaw Xiaodong Wu
Kathleen C. Irwin L.a. Chad Patrizi

by Cassandra S. Shaw
Xiaodong Wu
Kathleen C. Irwin
L.A. Chad Patrizi

The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between student retention and faculty personality as it was hypothesized that faculty personality has an effect on student retention. The methodology adopted for this study was quantitative and in two parts 1) using linear regression models to examine the impact or causality of faculty personality types on student retention; and 2) using the 16PF® Questionnaire survey study of faculty personality. Further, this study identified non-personality related factors that had a significant impact on student retention; these factors acted as controlled factors in the regression study on faculty personality. Using the 16Pf® Questionnaire, 180 item responses were aggregated into 19 raw scores and 43 sten scores; each represented one of the personality factors described by the 16Pf® Questionnaire. In addition, linear regression models were used to examine the impact of faculty personality types on student retention data. The ultimate findings indicated that student retention largely depended on student GPA. Students who possessed a high GPA tended to be more successful at completing their courses in the short and long term. Students who possessed a high GPA was a dominate factor; however, faculty personality factors also had a significant contribution to students completing their degree program.

Help at 3:00 AM! Providing 24/7 Timely Support to Online Students via a Virtual Assistant

Phu Vu Scott Fredrickson
Richard Meyer

by Phu Vu
Scott Fredrickson
Richard Meyer

With a dearth of research on human-robot interaction in education and relatively high non-completion rates of online students, this study was conducted to determine the feasibility of using a virtual assistant (VA) to respond to questions and concerns of students and provide 24/7 online course content support. During a 16 week-long academic semester, four hundred and seventy five interactions between the virtual assistant and learners in two online course sections were generated. On the average, the virtual assistant had 4.2 interactions with the students each day. Three hundred and twenty one interactions out of 475 (67.6%) were made during weekend hours, and 422 interactions (88.8%) were conducted between 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM – time the human instructor usually was unviable, thereby providing better and more efficient access for the students. The students were almost unanimous that they enjoyed/appreciated working with the virtual assistant, felt they had better and more immediate support from the VA than they had in previous online classes, and believed that the VA helped them understand the material better.

Faculty Technology Usage Resulting from Institutional Migration to a New Learning Management System

Ryan Rucker Steve Downey

by Ryan Rucker
Steve Downey

Research literature is flush with articles discussing how teachers use individual learning management systems. However, very few studies examine how faculty are affected as they move from one platform to another. This study addresses that gap and examines how faculty adapt their online teaching practices as they migrate systems. In doing so, faculty usage levels were examined for 10 common teaching tools found in two prominent systems, Blackboard and Desire2Learn. Two broad conclusions emerged from the study. First, faculty usage is highly dependent upon system affordances; systems perceived as cumbersome will repress faculty’s use of tools and subsequently will alter their teaching practices. Second, faculty adoption rates are not equal across disciplines. As a result, additional training and support may be required for certain units.

An Examination of Adjunct Faculty Characteristics: Comparison between Non-Profit and For-Profit Institutions

Keith Starcher B. Jean Mandernach

by Keith Starcher
B. Jean Mandernach

Institutions must understand the unique characteristics and motivations of adjunct faculty teaching online to more effectively support a diverse faculty population. The current study examines faculty characteristics and motivations to explore differences in the types of adjunct faculty teaching at non-profit or for-profit institutions. A survey of 859 part-time, online instructors found no statistically significant differences for gender, level of education, faculty typology (e.g., hope to obtain full time in higher education), or satisfaction; small differences were found in relation to ethnicity, academic experience, level of instruction (undergraduate or graduate), class size, and willingness to recommend online adjunct teaching to others. The results suggest that online adjunct faculty at for-profit and non-profit institutions are remarkably similar with regards to personal and academic characterstics as well as their motivation for and satisfaction with teaching online in an adjunct capacity. Not only does this lend support for the assumption that the nature of instruction is likely similar across for-profit and non-profit institutions, but also that best practices in faculty training, support and mentoring can be shared across institutional types. Recognizing the similarity in academic experience and preparation of online adjuncts, it allows faculty development initiatives and research to be shared, adapted and generalized across a wide range of of institutional types.

How Faculty Learn To Teach Online: What Administrators Need to Know

Steven W. Schmidt Christina M. Tschida
Elizabeth M. Hodge

 

by Steven W. Schmidt
Christina M. Tschida
Elizabeth M. Hodge

Research shows most teachers teach as they were taught.  However, distance educators lack a model or benchmark for online teaching because many of them have not taken online courses as students.  Indeed, many studies on teaching online point to the importance of training for online instructors.  Few studies go into specifics about exactly what that training should look like.  The purpose of this study is to examine best practices in professional development for instructors learning to teach online.

Exploring Faculty Preferences for Mode of Delivery for Professional Development Initiatives

Kenda S. Grover Shelly Walters
Ronna C. Turner

by Kenda S. Grover
Shelly Walters
Ronna C. Turner

As online learning is becoming more deeply entrenched in higher education, many institutions are designing professional development activities aimed at helping faculty improve their online teaching. The focus of this descriptive study was on identifying the preferences faculty who teach online have regarding how they want to learn about new technology, how to complete tasks in the online environment, and strategies they can use to enhance instruction. Additionally, the study sought to gauge faculty members’ interest in working with other faculty to investigate online teaching issues. Results from a survey instrument administered to faculty who teach online at an institution in the mid-south indicate that faculty members prefer one-on-one meetings with instructional design experts, online resources, and informal interaction with colleagues. The authors recommend including faculty members’ input in the design of professional development initiatives.

Six Ways to Increase Enrollments at an Extended Campus

Steven S. Christensen Scot L. Howell
Jorgan Christensen

by Steven S. Christensen
Scott L. Howell
Jordan Christensen

This is a “best practices” article focused on sharing six new academic scheduling strategies recently employed by the BYU Salt Lake Center to optimize course offerings and increase enrollments. These strategies are generalizable to other academic programs that help extend academic programs at a distance, including online courses. The Center is an extended campus in Salt Lake City, Utah situated 46 miles to the north of the main campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The distance between the flagship university and its Center pose unique challenges in relation to course and enrollment optimization. Some of these strategies are made possible with the help of new software tools recently licensed by the university to help mine “big course and enrollment data” (current and historical) of a large university with 30,000 students.

A Comparative Study of Competency-Based Courses Demonstrating a Potential Measure of Course Quality and Student Success

Jackie Krause Laura Portolese Dias
Chris Schedler

by Jackie Krause
Laura Portolese Dias
Chris Schedler

While competency-based education is growing, standardized tools for evaluating the unique characteristics of course design in this domain are still under development. This preliminary research study evaluated the effectiveness of a rubric developed for assessing course design of competency-based courses in an undergraduate Information Technology and Administrative Management program. The rubric, which consisted of twenty-six individual measures, was used to evaluate twelve new courses. Additionally, the final assessment scores of nine students that completed nine courses in the program were evaluated to determine if a correlation exists between student success and specific indicators of quality in the course design. The results indicate a correlation exists between measures that rated high and low on the evaluation rubric and final assessment scores of students completing courses in the program. Recommendations from this study suggest that quality competency-based courses need to evaluate the importance and relevance of resources for active student learning, provide increased support and ongoing feedback from mentors, and offer opportunities for students to practice what they have learned.

Expert Reflections on Effective Online Instruction: Importance of Course Content

Michael Ryan Christine Jonick
Lee Woodham Langub

by Michael Ryan
Christine Jonick
Lee Woodham Langub

This study seeks to identify common factors that leaders in online instruction consider most critical to successful teaching and learning at a distance. A quantitative and qualitative analysis of the teaching philosophy narratives of the nominees for the University System of Georgia Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award for Online Teaching was conducted. The total number of times a concept was mentioned and the percentage of nominees who cited each concept were computed. The results indicate the relative importance of each concept to these leading practitioners in the field. Rapport, design, engagement, feedback, research, and course improvement emerged as some of the most commonly cited themes, and these correspond with the literature review of best practices for online instruction. However, these instructors also emphasized course content as a significant element, even though this concept is less prevalent in the literature. The emphasis on content by these nominees underscores the importance of this theme and suggests that content is a factor that should be carefully considered in online instruction.

Relationships among Faculty Training, Faculty Degree, Faculty Longevity, and Student Satisfaction in Online Higher Education

right Melanie Shaw
Robert Todd Kane Melanie Shaw
Witt Salley

by Robert Todd Kane
Melanie Shaw
Sangho Pang
Witt Salley
J. Blake Snider

With the ever-increasing availability of online -education opportunities, understanding the factors that influence online student satisfaction and success is vital to enable administrators to engage and retain this important stakeholder group. The purpose of this ex-post-facto, nonexperimental quantitative study was to investigate the impact of faculty professional development, faculty degree status, and faculty longevity upon online student satisfaction and success. A large, archived dataset from an online public state university was analyzed. Repeated measures Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) analysis was used to explore changes in student satisfaction over time. Results showed that both training and degree were not significant predictors of student satisfaction. On the contrary, faculty longevity was found to be a predictor of student satisfaction. Recommendations for future research include incorporating qualitative analysis and expanding the study to diverse institutional types to determine whether findings are consistent.

Faculty Professional Development for Quality Online Teaching

Jennifer Alexiou-Ray Courtney C. Bentley

by Jennifer Alexiou-Ray
Courtney C. Bentley

Meaningful technology use in education continues to improve given an increase in access to available technologies and professional development. For educators, professional development has focused on approaches for technology use that foster content-specific best practices and improve student learning in traditional classroom formats. Meaningful technology integrations are not, however, limited to traditional classrooms. In fact, the push for distance and online education in postsecondary contexts has complicated the issue; faculty must develop and balance content-specific practices with technology pedagogies for asynchronous learning environments to maximize opportunities for student learning. In this article, the authors discuss the findings from a secondary review of research and theoretical applications for faculty development. One model for faculty training based on these findings is posited.

Examining the Elements of Online Learning Quality in a Fully Online Doctoral Program

Nathan R. Templeton Julia N. Ballenger
J. Ray Thompson

by Nathan R. Templeton
Julia N. Ballenger
J. Ray Thompson

The purpose of this descriptive quantitative study was to examine the quality elements of online learning in a regional doctoral program. Utilizing the six quality dimensions of Hathaway’s (2009) theory of online learning quality as a framework, the study investigated instructor-learner, learner-learner, learner-content, learner-interface, learner-instructional strategies, and social presence in order to explore the frequency and importance of these elements. A likert-style survey administered through Qualtrics was used to report self-perceptions of the doctoral students and faculty members. Descriptive statistics for the survey and subscales indicated alignment with the review of literature. Course design, instructor’s facilitation, and student interaction were factors impacting learning outcomes (Eom, Wen, & Ashill, 2006). Faculty participation was also found to dramatically improve the performance and satisfaction of students (Arbaugh & Rau, 2007; Hrastinski, 2009). Resultantly, five conclusions emerged from the study. First doctoral students and faculty valued the frequency of corporate interaction, clear prompt feedback, and multiple opportunities to learn and demonstrate learning. Secondly, instructor to learner interaction has to be an intentional practice. Third, the inclusion of learning technologies is necessary for building relationships, making connections and giving credibility to the learning environment. The fourth conclusion revealed that students were more concerned with the quality of assignments than faculty; and finally, faculty responses to students’ discussions is an area for improvement in the online program.

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