Graduation Year

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Higher Ed/Community College Ed

Major Professor

William H. Young III, Ed.D.

Committee Member

W. Robert Sullins, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Robert F. Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edward Fletcher, Ph.D.

Keywords

administrator, faculty, institutional support, online education, perceptions, quantitative

Abstract

Approximately 30% of Florida’s college system (FCS) students are enrolled in distance learning courses (FLDOE, 2015). As FCS institutions continue to grow their online programs to meet demand, a lack of support from, and consensus among administrator and faculty stakeholders could undermine institutional efforts to sustain growth and quality standards in these programs. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine administrator and faculty perceptions of institutional support for online education in Florida’s College System. Differences in perceptions between these groups were also investigated. Additionally, this study explored if perceptions differed based on role and level of experience with online education.

For this study, Administrators were operationally defined as administrators of online education and instructional technology staff, and Faculty were operationally defined as full-time and adjunct faculty. The sample included 25 Administrators, 25 Instructional Technology Staff, 131 Full Time Faculty, and 92 Adjunct Faculty. A total of 273 administrators and faculty employed in the Florida College System consented to participate in the study.

To confirm the latent constructs underlying the survey questions, a factor analysis was conducted. Six scales were identified: Faculty Teaching and Technology Support (FTTS), Student Readiness for Online Learning (SROL), Institutional Commitment to Online Learning (ICOL), Student Services and Technology Infrastructure (SSTI), Online Learning Access and Administration (OLAA), and Online Learning Evaluation and Assessment (OLEA). A survey consisting of a 4-point Likert scale ranging from 1 to 4 where 1= Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Agree, and 4 = Strongly Agree, was used to measure perceptions of institutional support for online education.

Findings from this study indicate that in the areas of Faculty Teaching and Technology Support (FTTS), Student Services and Technology Infrastructure (SSTI), and Online Learning Access and Administration (OLAA), administrators, instructional technology staff, full time faculty, and adjunct faculty agreed that their institutions were providing the necessary institutional support for online education. However, in the areas of Student Readiness for Online Learning (SROL), Institutional Commitment to Online Learning (ICOL), and Online Learning Evaluation and Assessment (OLEA), these institutional stakeholders differed in their views regarding institutional support for online education.

As it relates to Student Readiness for Online Learning (SROL), administrators (M = 2.32, SD = 0.72), instructional technology staff (M = 2.23, SD = 0.69), and full time faculty (M = 2.33, SD = 0.79) all agree that institutions need to do more to address students’ readiness for online learning, while adjunct faculty (M = 2.80, SD = 0.82) perceive that institutions are providing the necessary support in this area. This finding signals a call for action in two areas. First, because institutional stakeholders agree this is an area of concern, institutions need to do more to address student readiness for online learning. Second, institutions need to ensure that adjunct faculty are aware of the technology preparedness screening that is available, or not available, to students enrolled in online courses and programs.

In the area of Institutional Commitment to Online Learning (ICOL), administrators (M = 2.76, SD = 0.64), instructional technology staff (M = 2.66, SD = 0.85), and full time faculty (M = 2.88, SD = 0.63), perceive a need for more institutional commitment to online education, while adjunct faculty (M = 3.17, SD = 0.59) perceive that institutions are sufficiently demonstrating their commitment to online education. Differences in perceptions in this area signal that institutions need to gather information from these stakeholders in order to work towards consensus related to institutional commitment to online education.

As it relates to Online Learning Evaluation and Assessment (OLEA), administrators (M = 2.87, SD = 0.79), instructional technology staff (M = 2.69, SD = 0.80), and full time faculty (M = 2.85, SD = 0.76) perceive that institutions need to do more to address online learning evaluation and assessment while adjunct faculty (M = 3.18, SD = 0.61) perceive that institutions are providing appropriate support in this area. Differences in perceptions in this area also signal that institutions need to gather information from these stakeholders to work towards consensus related to online learning evaluation and assessment.

It is imperative that institutions in the Florida College System address issues that negatively impact student success in distance education. Findings from this study indicate that to enhance the quality of online education, and positively impact online retention efforts, FCS institutions should endeavor to gain support and solicit consensus from administrator and faculty stakeholders regarding efforts to sustain and grow their online programs.