Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

ATLAS Institute

First Advisor

John K. Bennett

Second Advisor

Sarah Hug

Third Advisor

Diane E. Sieber

Fourth Advisor

Doug C. Sicker

Fifth Advisor

Charlotte N. Gunawardena

Abstract

This dissertation employs a mixed method approach to investigate the impact of online teaching on higher education educators' professional identity, and the role played by technology in this process. Previous work on faculty preparation to teach online does not acknowledge that before changing practices, it is necessary to examine the values and belief systems that underlie those practices. I first examine the results of two qualitative studies that compare two groups of teachers who experienced the transition to online teaching in different ways.

The first group was comprised of teachers who teach both online and face-to-face, but who expressed a clear preference for the face-to-face classroom and reportedly experienced difficulty enacting their professional identity in the online classroom. The second group was comprised of online teachers with a record of online teaching excellence, but who reportedly enjoy both modalities equally. I then examine the results of a quantitative study that considers the degree to which findings from the first two studies can be generalized.

This research helps identify how online learning is changing both teachers and the teaching profession within higher education, why many faculty remain ambivalent about online teaching, and suggests ways to address these challenges.

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