Survey of traditional and distance learning faculty members at private institutions in the Southeast : implications for policy development
Simonetti, Elizabeth Mary
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This study reports the results of a survey of traditional and distance learning faculty members at private four-year institutions in the Southeast regarding their opinions, perceptions, and beliefs about distance learning. A 60-question survey instrument was sent to 564 traditional and distance learning faculty members, with a response rate of 39.3%. Traditional faculty members are concerned about job security, teaching loads, course control and quality, and ownership of intellectual property. By contrast, distance learning faculty members viewed distance learning as a way to reach new students without increasing faculty teaching loads. Approximately ten percent of traditional faculty members and sixty percent of distance learning faculty members surveyed reported teaching distance learning courses. Both traditional and distance learning faculty members reported using technology to increase student participation in courses; and both groups are concerned about student cheating in distance learning courses. Traditional faculty members reported that their distance learning courses were taught at the undergraduate level as an addition to place-based courses, while distance learning faculty members reported that their distance learning courses replaced place-based courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Neither group reported that distance learning courses attracted new enrollments from students outside their institutions; moreover, enrollments in distance learning courses averaged less than twenty students per course. Threaded discussion and e-mail were the most popular technologies used to interact with distance learning students. Faculty reported that they needed additional time in preparing and delivering distance learning courses, but few received release time for them. Future research should include examining policies for compensation for distance learning, and reviewing faculty development programs to prepare faculty to maximize teaching strategies in distance learning.