An exploratory study of the development of a survey instrument to measure the pedagogical dimensions of web-based instruction
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Higher education institutions are investing heavily in web-based courses without fully understanding or realizing the implications and impact of WBI on teaching and learning. Part of this problem is largely due to the lack of robust validated evaluation instruments designed to measure the impact of WBI. This study has directly addressed this gap in our knowledge by developing and testing a new instrument intended to serve as an evaluation tool to measure the pedagogical dimensions of WBI as defined by the Reeves and Reeves (1997) model. This instrument was used to measure the impact of WBI (represented by university courses utilizing a commercial course management system called WebCT) on teaching and learning in a number of higher education courses at a large urban university in the Southeastern USA in the spring of 2002. The methodology employed for this study consisted of a mixed methods approach. The quantitative phase involved the construction, development and distribution of a new instrument based on the Reeves and Reeves (1997) model of interactive learning dimensions of WBI. Sixteen College of Education university courses were involved in this phase. Although reliability tests were marginally acceptable, validity tests brought the integrity of the instrument into question. The qualitative phase involved 3 courses and consisted of faculty interviews and student focus-group interviews. This phase reported the reasons faculty chose particular WebCT tools for their course, students’ reactions to these tools and both faculty and students perceptions of what additional WebCT tools would be relevant for their course. Contrary to the initial expectations, pedagogical issues were not drivers for any of the faculty involved in this phase nor discussion points for either faculty or students. As a result, attempts at using the qualitative data to corroborate the quantitative results were limited. Although this exploratory study to produce a reliable, valid instrument for the evaluation of WBI was unsuccessful with respect to the development of the specific instrument, valuable knowledge was revealed about how the methodology for such a study could be improved. In addition, recommendations were made for improving the design, delivery, evaluation and support of WebCT within the specific context of the study. Lastly, directions for future research were presented.