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A Case Study of Faculty Development Needs in Distance Education. Kam Jugdev, PhD Associate Professor, Project Management and Strategy Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada [email protected] Heather Kanuka, PhD Academic Director, University Teaching Services

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a case study of faculty development needs in distance education

A Case Study of Faculty Development Needs in Distance Education

Kam Jugdev, PhD

Associate Professor, Project Management and Strategy

Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada

[email protected]

Heather Kanuka, PhD

Academic Director, University Teaching Services

Associate Professor, Educational Policy Studies, Faculty of Education,

University of Alberta, Canada

[email protected]

presentation outline
Presentation Outline
  • Trends in faculty development
  • Athabasca University TGIF study
  • Findings
  • Next steps

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scholarship tensions
Scholarship tensions
  • Scholarship of discovery, teaching, and practice (Boyer)
  • Perception that research is more valued than teaching
    • “Publish or perish”
    • Institutional incentives and reward for research
    • Research may be easier to assess than teaching
  • Compounded by the dynamics of teaching in distance education

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external trends in education
External Trends in Education
  • Increasing number of teaching centers
  • Increased use of technology and collaborative tools
  • Mediated learning practices

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sources of stress for new faculty
Sources of stress for new faculty
  • Balancing teaching and research time
  • Lack of collegial relationships
  • Inadequate feedback/recognition
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Insufficient resources
  • Lack of mentors
  • Lack of orientation
  • Work-life balance

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scope of faculty development programs
Scope of faculty development programs
  • Narrow to broad
    • Some promote all forms of scholarship throughout academic careers and others focus on new graduates
    • Include faculty + educational media staff + IT departments
  • Limited only by a university\'s scope, mission, and culture

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faculty development program success factors
Faculty development program success factors
  • Needs assessment
  • Gap analysis
  • Shared vision and culture to support teaching
  • Funding
  • Responsive to faculty needs
  • Voluntary participation
  • Faculty buy in
  • Meaningful incentives
  • Practical sessions
  • Mentoring
  • Workshops vs. Self learning

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faculty development issues
Faculty development issues
  • Sense of isolation
  • Time to prepare courses (2.5x longer than F2F)
    • What is a “normal” faculty workload in DE?
  • Roles and responsibilities*
    • Who has control over courses when educational media staff are involved?
    • Preparing courses to an administrative schedule
    • Limited flexibility, autonomy, course commodification, intellectual property
  • Technology currency, standardization

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athabasca university
Athabasca University
  • Canada’s leading distance education university
    • > 37,000 students/year
    • > 260,000 students since inception in 1970
    • > 650 faculty
    • Changing faculty demographic profile
    • Telework benefits and challenges
  • Take time for good instructional fun (TGIF) committee
    • Assess the quality of faculty work environment
    • Suggest faculty support needs
    • Orientations, surveys, workshops

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tigf committee
TIGF committee
  • Successful orientation feedback
    • Belonging, connecting, communicating, mentoring, sharing, physical presence in a distributed environment
  • “Investing in our Faculty” Report
    • Recommendations of annual orientation with university panels, a faculty development centre
  • Institutional survey
    • To better understand how we can provide continuous learning opportunities to improve teaching practices for academics who are teleworking
    • Survey based on Harrison’s (2002) review of university teaching quality (six topics)

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survey participants and response rate
Survey participants and response rate
  • Sent to 609 staff members
  • 187 responses (31%)
  • 85% (or 161) were teleworkers
  • Limitations
    • Self reported data
  • Publications
      • Kanuka, H., Jugdev, K., Heller, B., & West, D. (2008). The rise of the teleworker: False promises and responsive solutions. Higher Education, 56(2), 149-165.
      • Kanuka, H., Heller, B., & Jugdev, K. (2008). The factor structure of teaching development needs for distance delivered e-learning. International Journal for Academic Development, 13(2), 129-139.

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survey findings
Survey findings

1. Delivery methods

  • Digitally based teaching resources
  • Face-to-face workshops facilitated by experts

2. Teaching resources

  • Motivational strategies to engage learners
  • Deal with difficult students
  • Using different instructional

3. Instructional/course services

  • Teaching retreats, teaching portfolio, peer support

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survey findings1
Survey findings

4. Strategic planning

  • Early training for new hires
  • Funds for innovative teaching explorations
  • Support services for the scholarship of teaching/learning

5. Teaching beliefs

  • 91% consider their teaching practices to be important

6. Workplace satisfaction

  • Most have good working relationships with colleagues
  • Primary workplace is an effective working environment

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textual findings
Textual findings
  • Lack of familiarity with teaching resources available
  • Interested in:
    • Help with improving teaching practices
    • Forums to discuss best practices in teaching and research
      • Blended needs not just focused on teaching
    • Using technology more effectively
  • Debate over mandatory faculty development

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textual findings1
Textual findings
  • Mentoring program e.g., course design/delivery
  • Desire to improve teaching quality standards
  • Course development cycle concerns
  • Time constraint concerns related to attending faculty development sessions
    • Time off, incentives, subsidized workshops
  • Enhanced IT services to support teaching
    • Findings shared with CIO

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textual findings2
Textual findings
  • Sense of isolation
    • “Tele-commuting has failed as an experiment because it has virtually killed collegiality, intellectual cross-fertilization, and the social dimension of the workplace”
    • “It is hard to have collegial discussions without a mail or coffee room”
    • “Distance teaching for AU as a tutor or academic expert is a very isolating experience. We need many more opportunities for collegial interaction”

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textual findings3
Textual findings
  • Most academics
    • Care deeply about their teaching
    • Would like to participate in continuous learning opportunities
    • Want to be connected with like-minded colleagues
    • If left unattended will experience a sense of isolation
  • To overcome barriers:
    • Continuous learning activities should be delivered via digitally-based web spaces
    • But, the data also reveal:
      • Teleworkers would still like to attend F2F workshops

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issues to consider based on the survey and prior literature
Issues to consider based on the survey and prior literature
  • Teleworking can be an attractive opportunity for both the institution and employees
    • Flexibility in personal and family scheduling
    • Positive views about family and personal life
    • Under certain circumstances, teleworking enhances productivity and work quality

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However …
  • Teleworking has its tradeoffs:
    • Potentially vulnerable situations from the lack of contact between colleagues and the organization
    • Reduced identification/commitment to the organization
    • Reduced job satisfaction
    • Increased turnover intentions
    • Limits opportunities for promotion, organizational rewards
    • Limited access to employee development activities (interpersonal networking, informal learning, mentoring)

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  • A central unit which provides opportunities for improving teaching to foster teamwork can:
    • Reduce feelings of isolation
    • Increase institutional attachment
    • Increase job satisfaction
    • Increase work performance
    • Improve relationships between teleworkers and the institution
  • Annual orientations, regular informal faculty lunches supported by the VPA, regular faculty/staff mixers, open forums with the president, lunch with the vice president academic
    • All steps in the right direction

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