1 ABSTRACT LARI, POONEH. Understanding Teaching Experiences: Faculty Transitions from Traditional to Online Classrooms. (Under the direction of Dr. Colleen Aalsburg Wiessner.) The purpose of this study was to describe the transition of faculty members from traditional to online environments and to examine their assumptions about their teaching and learning in face to face and online environments. In that it describes the transition experiences of faculty members from traditional to online environments, their teaching and learning assumptions and possible changes and transformations, this study may assist those faculty members who have been resistant to transitioning from traditional to online classrooms. The questions guiding this research were (a) How do faculty members describe their transition from teaching face to face to teaching in an online environment? (b) What personal, professional, pedagogical or other assumptions do faculty members hold about the teaching and learning in traditional and online environments before starting their transition and how do those assumptions change after their transition? And (c) How are the changes the faculty members experience as they transition from traditional to online environments defined along a continuum in relation to change theories? This qualitative study research was conducted as a heuristic multiple case study, meaning participants at various locations were interviewed. The results of this study contribute to creating a body of knowledge useful to institutions, faculty members, and others transitioning from traditional to online classrooms. It expands the online teaching literature regarding what teaching and learning means to the faculty members and allows them to bridge technology with pedagogy. It also contributes to the literature that discusses the role
2 of emotional intelligence as faculty members transition from traditional to online environment and how emotions affect the decision making process in this transition. This research also adds to the different types of presence the faculty members can have online that enable the faculty members to be more effective in the way the faculty members teach, learn, and interact within their community of practice.
3 Understanding Teaching Experiences: Faculty Transitions From Traditional To Online Classrooms by Pooneh Lari A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Faculty of North Carolina State University In partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education Adult and Community College Education Raleigh, NC 2008 APPROVED BY: Colleen A. Wiessner, Ed.D. Chair of Advisory Committee Julia Storberg Walker, Ph.D. Committee Member Diane Chapman, Ed.D. Committee Member Duane Akroyd, Ph.D. Committee Member
4 ii DEDICATION I dedicate this dissertation to Mom and Dad for their guidance, encouragement, and unconditional love throughout every day of my life; for all the times they talked me through the rough patches or simply listened to me vent, and for all the times they celebrated my successes as if they were greater than their own. And here s to my beautiful sister for her funny, fun spirited, and loving ways. It was wonderful being in school with you once more, experiencing the good, the bad, and the ugly together. Also, I would like to dedicate this work that has been one of my closest companions over the past couple of years, to my other, more charming and loving companion, my husband Aaron. I dedicate this to you for all your love, support, and counsel.
5 iii BIOGRAPHY Pooneh Lari began her higher education studies at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and attained an M.S. in Instructional Technology in After working for three years, she returned for the doctorate in Adult and Community College Education from North Carolina State University. She is currently teaching as an adjunct instructor at NC State.
6 iv AKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would not be here today, writing this acknowledgement, without the presence of so many other individuals who have touched my life for the better over the years. Allow me to start from the beginning with my best friend and partner in crime for so many years, Mahnoosh. I thank you for this beautiful friendship and all the memories we share, the good and the bad. I express my gratitude to Dr. Mojgan Rashtchi, with whom I began my undergraduate career at Azad University, for her support and encouragement when everything was, well, strange. As four years of college proved somehow insufficient for me, I started up once more for a master s degree at Bloomsburg University under the guidance and generous assistance of Dr. Mehdi Razzaghi, for which I will be eternally grateful. My journey at North Carolina State University began with Dr. Paula Berardinelli. She found me my first job at NCSU and encouraged me to apply to the graduate program. What would I have done without her? Thank you for every word of advice. And what would I have done without Mr. Harlan Hammack and his recommendation letters? Harlan, I thank you for your support and friendship. I thank my committee members, Drs. Duane Akroyd, Diane Chapman, and Julia Storberg Walker, for their feedback and suggestions, which have made me a better researcher. I thank the department head, Dr. Carol Kasworm, for the remarkable teaching experience she provided for me. I would like to extend my gratitude to Ms. Stacy Smith and Mr. David Howard for teaching me so much while I worked with them at DELTA.
7 v Finally, I would like to express my wholehearted thankfulness and indebtedness to Dr. Colleen Aalsburg Wiessner, my mentor, friend, teacher, and chair for helping me get to this page today.
8 vi TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES... xii LIST OF FIGURES... xiii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION...1 Research Questions...1 Background and Statement of Problem...2 Students and Enrollment...3 Faculty Members and Academics...4 Technology...5 Purpose of the Study...11 Significance of Study...11 Limitations...13 About the Role of the Researcher...14 Summary...16 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF LITERATURE...17 Part I. Comparison of Faculty Members Teaching Methods in Face to Face and Online Environments...17 Changes of Faculty Members in Transition from Face to Face to Online Environments...18
9 vii Difference between Face to Face and Online Environments...20 Instructional Design Role...21 Faculty Member Roles...28 Characteristics of an Online Instructor...30 Summary...33 Part II. Situated Learning and Communities of Practice...34 Situated Learning...35 Communities of Practice...43 Summary...48 Part III. Transformative Learning Theory...49 Overview of Transformative Learning Theory...50 Understanding Transformative Learning Theory...51 Influence of Paulo Freire...51 Influence of Roger Gould...53 Influence of Habermas...53 Influence of Illeris...56 Influence of O Sullivan...56 Role of Critical Reflection...57 Role of Meaning Perspective...58 Other Influences...61 Critique of Transformative Learning Theory...62 Perspectives on Transformative Learning...66
10 viii Emancipatory...68 Cognition...68 Constructivist Development Theory...69 Spirituality and Learning...71 Jungian Perspective...72 Ideological Perspective...75 Affective and Holistic Perspective...75 Cosmological Perspective...76 Emotional and Social Perspective...77 Social Action Perspective...79 Dialogical (Discourse) Perspective...80 Cultural and Social Perspectives...81 Ecological Perspective of Power...82 Mytho poetic Perspective...83 Relationship Between Transformative Learning Theory and Other Adult learning Theories, and the Difference between Transformation and Change...89 Relationship Between Transformative Learning Theory and Other Adult learning Theories...89 Differences between Transformation and Change Summary CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY Research Design...109
11 ix Qualitative approach Case study approach Conceptual Framework Data Collection Methods Participants Interviews Documents Data Analysis Methods Transcription Coding Themes Ethical Issues Strategies for Validating Findings Triangulation Member Checking Summary CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS Transition of faculty members from face to face to online environments Advantages and Disadvantages of Online and Face to Face Teaching Advantages of Face to Face Teaching...132
12 x Disadvantages of Face to Face Teaching Advantages of Online Teaching Disadvantages of Online Teaching Assumptions of Faculty Members about Teaching and Learning Environments Impetus for transitioning to online environment Online Experiences Strengths and Weaknesses Summary CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION Change Types of Presence in Online Environments Images or Metaphors Emotions and Emotional Intelligence Summary CHAPTER 6: IMPLICATIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS Overview Implications for Practice Professional Preparation Course Development...181
13 xi A New Element in Communities of Practice Recommendations for Future Research Conclusion REFERENCES APPENDICES Appendix A Research Questions Faculty Interview questions Colleague Interview questions Student Interview questions Appendix B Informed Consent Form for Research (Colleague) Appendix C Informed Consent Form for Research (Faculty) Appendix D Informed Consent Form for Research (Student) Appendix E Institutional Review Board for the Use of Human Subjects in Research...237
14 xii LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Organizing framework of varied theoretical views of transformative learning...67 Table 2 Comparison of critical and postmodern worldviews...94 Table 3 Community of inquiry coding scheme Table 4 Reminders for planning and Teaching in an Online Environment...181
15 xiii LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. The ADDIE model (Briggs, 1970)...23 Figure 2. Dick and Carey design model (Dick & Carey, 1996)...24 Figure 3. Conceptual map of transformative learning theory...88 Figure 4. Community of inquiry: elements of an educational experience (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) Figure 5. Community of inquiry: elements of an educational experience (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) Figure 6. Lari s online community of practice...162
16 1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION The purpose of the first chapter of this study is to acquaint the reader with the transition trends in distance education in colleges and universities and correspondingly, with the transition of students and faculty members from traditional to online environments. In a comparative study, Dabbagh and Nanna Ritland (2005) described the differences between traditional learning environments and web based learning environments and argued that traditional learning environments are (a) bound by location and presence of instructor and student, (b) presented in real time, (c) controlled by an instructor and (d) are linear in teaching methods. Using evolving technology, asynchronous communication and real time information, online learning environments are unbound and dynamic. McCombs (2000) states that instructional approaches are becoming more learner centered and are recursive and non linear, engaging, self directed, and meaningful from the learner s perspective (p. 1). The research cited in this introduction describes what the faculty members experience in their transition from traditional to online environments, how the faculty members perceive this transition, and articulates their assumptions about teaching and learning. This chapter also includes the three research questions along with the purpose and significance of the study. Research Questions Three questions guided this research: 1. How do faculty members describe their transition from teaching face to face to teaching in an online environment?
17 2 2. What personal, professional, pedagogical or other assumptions do faculty members hold about teaching and learning in traditional and online environments before starting their transition and how do those assumptions change after their transition? 3. How are the changes the faculty members experience as they transition from traditional to online environments defined along a continuum in relation to change theories? Background and Statement of Problem Much has been written in the literature regarding the development of distance education both in educational institutions and in industry (Dabbagh & Nanna Ritland, 2005). Maguire (2005) states that distance education used as a medium for teaching and learning has grown tremendously in the past 10 years as indicated by the number of higher education institutions that offer courses and/or full degree programs via distance learning. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 1999), the number of degree granting higher education institutions offering distance education courses increased from 33 percent in 1995 to 44 percent in Vignare (2006) states that 20 percent of all higher education students now take online courses, a dramatic increase from under one percent in She goes on to say that the Internet and most of the new Internet communications technology have also been added to the higher education environment within the past 10 years. Hence, the shift in student demand and new Internet communications technologies has created real opportunities for new approaches to teaching and learning.
18 3 Allen and Seaman (2006) state that the overall percent of schools identifying online education as a critical long term strategy grew from 49 percent in 2003 to 56 percent in Interestingly, sixty five percent of higher education institutions report that they are using primarily core faculty members to teach their online courses compared to 62 percent that report they are using primarily core faculty members to teach their face to face courses. Howell, Williams, and Lindsay (2003) attempted to identify the current state and future directions of distance education. Through this study, several themes emerged; these themes pertained to students and enrollment, faculty members and academics, technology, and distance learning. Howell et al. (2003) concluded that the current higher education infrastructure cannot accommodate the growing college aged population and enrollments, a fact that makes distance education programs necessary. Students and Enrollment At the 88 th University Continuing Education Association (UCEA) conference, Callahan (2003) noted that the largest high school class in United States history will graduate in Based on a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education in collaboration with the UCEA conference, the National Center for Education Statistics predicted that college enrollment will grow 16% over the next ten years (Jones, 2003). Reeve and Perlich (2002) argue that since enrollment is not limited to traditional students, many colleges and universities acknowledge that there will be more students than their campus facilities can accommodate. Howell et al. (2003) believe that distance education may provide a solution to this growing problem for higher education institutions. Allen and Seaman (2006) stated that
19 4 the overall online enrollment increased from 1.98 million in 2003 to 2.35 million in 2004, 19% increase in just a year. Faculty Members and Academics An emerging theme from the Howell et al. (2003) study is shifting roles of traditional faculty members. Paulson (2002), Miller (2001), and Williams (2003) state that rather than delegating all technology and competency based functions to individual faculty members, these roles are now being distributed among distance education teams made up of instructional designers, technologists, and faculty members themselves. In addition to the traditional role, faculty members now play the role of facilitator, teacher, organizer, assessor, mentor, role model, counselor, coach, supervisor, problem solver, and liaison (Riffee, 2003; Roberson & Klotz, 2002; Scagnoli, 2001). Research has shown that faculty members regard teaching online as more difficult than teaching traditional face to face classes (Hartman, Dziuban, & Moskal, 2000). Results of a survey of 32 online faculty members revealed that 90 percent of faculty members believed online courses to be more difficult to teach because of workload increases due to more interaction with students (Hartman et al., 2000). Similarly, Sellani and Harrington (2002) found that faculty members complained that the online delivery was more labor intensive because of the amount of time required to grade papers and respond to questions. Dasher Alston and Patton (1998) claim that while many studies have shown no significant difference in learning outcomes between online and traditional courses, initially the faculty members try to use their traditional classroom methods to teach an online course and become frustrated when their efforts are unsuccessful in applying traditional teaching
20 5 strategies to online courses. In a survey conducted by Green (2002) regarding the role of computing and information technology (IT) in higher education, chief academic and information technology officials rated helping faculty integrate technology into their instruction as the single most important IT issue confronting their campuses over the next few years (p. 7). Brogden & Couros (2002) suggest that the labor intensive and timeconsuming demands required to develop online courses are also a cause for faculty member s frustration. Technology In 2003, the annual market for distance learning was approximately $4.5 billion (Kariya, 2003; Howell et al., 2002; Pond, 2003). Gallagher (2002) argues that not only is online learning more common now but it increases 40% annually. Distance learning students include both traditional continuing education students and younger on campus students (Anderson, 2001). Roach (2002) estimates that As many as half the students in online courses are from the traditional 18 to 25 year old students, who normally take campus based courses (p. 24). Hickman (2003) states that the Internet is being used more than any other distance education delivery method. Carr (2000) reported that 72% of those who had taught online courses were in favor of this method compared with 51% who had not taught at a distance. A similar study conducted by Linder in 2002 showed that Most teachers (85%) were not philosophically opposed to distance education (p.5). This study also found that teaching at a distance improves perceptions of distance education: Faculty members who had not taught distance education courses perceived the level of support as lower than those who had (p.5). The
21 6 results of a four year study conducted by Chick et al. (2003) show that there has been a dramatic increase in overall faculty member support for technology in their distance education endeavors, with 22% of the faculty members viewing it as important in 1999 and 57% in The study also shows that instructors feel that technology is helping them achieve their teaching objectives. The result of a survey by the National Educational Association (NEA, 2000) indicates that despite the growth of online education, faculty members are hesitant to teach online. In this survey, 50% of faculty members conveyed negative or uncertain feelings towards distance learning. The faculty members were not comfortable with online teaching environments, expressing a form of disconnectedness and dissatisfaction along with feelings of ineffectiveness in this instructional environment (Dillon & Walsh, 1992; Bower, 2001; Williams, 2003). Faculty members stated that lack of time, institutional support, and scholarly respect in the areas of promotion, tenure and training added to their frustration in teaching online classes (Baldwin, 1998; Bonk, 2001; Lee, 2001; Northrup, 1997; O'Quinn & Corry, 2002; Parisot, 1997). They were also concerned with the lack of standards for creating an online course, the threat of fewer jobs, and a decline in usage of full time faculty members, which faculty members believe results in a decline in quality of faculty members (IHEP, 2000; NEA, 2000). This resistance to online or distance education suggests that in order for faculty members to adopt online instruction as a norm, they are likely to require adjustment strategies, either from their institutions or developed among their peers. For example, these faculty members are faced with new situations when developing an online course versus a
22 7 traditional one (Levy, 2003), which includes additional planning in order to make traditional face to face assignments work effectively in online environments. Converting a traditional, one credit hour course to an online format requires a 75 percent increase in design and development time, and a 125 percent increase in the time to maintain the online course (Carroll Barefield & Murdoch, 2004). The advancements in technology have caused faculty members to ask if new technologies such as wireless, mobile laptop computing, personal digital assistants (PDAs), videoconferencing, video streaming, virtual reality, and gaming environments enhance learning (Crawford et al., 2003, p. 24). That is, will these technologies assist the online learning process? And for many faculty members, how is the question. Carroll Barefield (2004) suggests that in transitioning from traditional classrooms to online environments, faculty members should be knowledgeable not only in their content areas but also in the instructional design process. Nevertheless, due to development of such information and communication technologies, and their implications for education, online education is gaining importance (Bernard et al., 2004). Although most faculty members continue to teach in traditional formats, using classrooms as their primary sites, the transition to virtual environments is inevitable (Glenn, 2001). In fact, most distance learning faculty members have had teaching and learning experience in a traditional classroom. With universities embracing distance education (Baldwin, 1998; Cornell, 1999; Gandolfo, 1998), the faculty members have been obligated to teach these classes online (Wilson, 1998). Yet, as mentioned earlier, most faculty members do not have prior
23 8 experience in teaching online and are struggling with the new technology and new methodologies (Dillon & Walsh, 1992; Bower, 2001). A National Center for Education Statistics ([NCES], 1998) report indicates that about 60 percent of higher education institutions provided training opportunities for distance learning faculty members, whereas the other 40 percent of the universities asked faculty members to teach distance education courses without providing any special preparation for teaching online. Of the 60 percent of the universities who provide training to faculty members, about one quarter required faculty to have training in distance learning technology, 13 percent required training in curriculum development, and 17 percent in teaching methods for distance learning. The NCES survey did not address the depth or extent of the training that was provided to the faculty members at these universities (NCES, 1998). Expanding on the preceding literature review, chapter 2 of this studyincludes a literature review that indicates that there are numerous factors that affect faculty members teaching and learning, such as technological changes. In transitioning from traditional to online classrooms, faculty members may experience many changes or transformations. Richardson and Placier (2001) state that faculty members change in terms of their learning, development, socialization, growth, improvement, and cognition. The researchers frame these changes in three categories. The first are voluntary and naturalistic changes that are related to the person s background, personality, experience and their different approaches to change. The second category of change looks at the teacher s stages of development. Richardson and Placier (2001) refer to the term development as a concept of learning and moving towards becoming an experienced, expert teacher. In the final category of change,
24 9 the researchers take into consideration those changes taking place in faculty members who are engaged in formal preparation for improvement of their teaching skills. Mezirow (1991) suggests that individuals can be transformed through a process of critical reflection and perspective transformation. Transformative learning can be initiated by a disorienting dilemma; a situation that does not fit one's preconceived notions; in this case, how teaching and learning take place. These dilemmas can lead to critical reflection and development of new ways of interpreting experiences. Our meaning schemes are comprised of beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and emotions that guide action (Mezirow & Associates, 2000). As described by Mezirow (1991), transformative learning occurs when individuals change their frames of reference by reflecting critically on their assumptions and beliefs and make plans that bring about new ways of defining their worlds, thereby, transforming their perspectives. By understanding the nature of transition the faculty members go through, I was able to better comprehend how this transition affects their learning and teaching assumptions from traditional to online classroom. For those individuals following these faculty members paths, this study will be an eye opening and revealing experience into the world of online learning and teaching, an experience that has not been addressed adequately thus far in other related literature. Bateson (1994) uses several metaphors to describe the ways in which we learn from experience. The first and most central is what she calls peripheral vision, explaining that Sometimes change is directly visible, but sometimes it is apparent only to peripheral vision, altering the meaning of the foreground (p. 243). Bateson (1994) argues that while the
25 10 society focuses on gaining specialization in one thing at a time, such a focus limits our learning and impedes our ability to make meaningful connections between our different life experiences. As a foundation for this dissertation, I conducted a pilot study in which four adult education graduate faculty members participated. The purpose of the pilot study was to examine the nature of transition that faculty members go through when transitioning from traditional to distance classrooms. Results of the pilot study showed that, in all incidences that occurred in their transition from face to face to online classrooms, the faculty members needed to be able to connect what they experienced in face to face teaching to their online teaching in order to be able to understand the incident and to figure out the next best steps for themselves. It is through this process of meaning making and connecting the experiences that I believe that faculty members will be able to succeed as online teachers. Thus this pilot study helped to shape my methodology for this research. Bateson (2005) writes, We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn. This quote seems to exemplify the faculty members. In their transition, the importance is on what they are willing to learn, not only to help themselves develop professionally, but also to help the learners reach new heights. Bateson (2005) explains that willingness to learn demands respect. She argues that even ideas and beliefs that are unlike our own are invitations to curiosity and that in fact the greater the differences, the more there may be to be learned. Bateson (2005) says that the willingness to learn is a form of spirituality in that it is a stance of humility, because there is so much to be learned.
26 11 Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to describe the transition of faculty members from traditional to online environments and to examine their assumptions about their teaching and learning in face to face and online environments. Three questions guided this research: 1. How do faculty members describe their transition from teaching face to face to teaching in an online environment? 2. What personal, professional, pedagogical or other assumptions do faculty members hold about teaching and learning in traditional and online environments before starting their transition and how do those assumptions change after their transition? 3. How are the changes the faculty members experience as they transition from traditional to online environments defined along a continuum in relation to change theories? Significance of Study By describing the transition experiences of faculty members from traditional to online environments, their teaching and learning assumptions and possible changes and transformations, this study may assist those faculty members who have been frustrated and resistant to transitioning from traditional to online classrooms. This study will enable them to understand how they can transfer their teaching skills into another area so that they will not fear that they are losing their teaching abilities and effectiveness in the classroom. In addition to its appeal to faculty members, this study contributes to creating a body of knowledge useful to educational institutions, faculty members and others transitioning from traditional to
27 12 online classrooms. Armed with this study s findings, faculty members will be able to relate to a generation of new learners, to expand the online teaching literature regarding what teaching and learning means to the faculty members, and to bridge technology with pedagogy. By looking at the faculty members transition experiences detailed in this study, other faculty members can view the distorted or incomplete aspects of their assumptions that need further investigation. As a result of this study, fundamental deep beliefs of faculty members may change: The implication will be less resistance of faculty members to teaching online. Rather, faculty members will be able to teach in an online environment that is more compatible as well as in alignment with their beliefs. In the context of faculty members in transition from traditional to online environments, this study also illuminated an area of transformative learning that had been largely unexamined in previous studies. Furthermore, in addition to existing faculty members, this study may benefit a whole host of others, such as new online faculty members, online support staff, department chairs, curriculum developers, directors of faculty development, and those involved in planning and developing distance education efforts. Three expressions recur often in this document: situated learning, communities of practice, and transformative learning theory. Lave and Wenger (1991) state that situated learning means to place thought and action in a specific place and time and to involve other learners and the environment to create meaning. In the same study, Lave and Wenger explain that communities of practice are everywhere such as work, home and school and that over time, collective learning in these communities result in practices that cause social relations (Wenger, 1998). Mezirow (1996) explains transformative learning theory as a
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