A case study of faculty development needs in distance education
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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 Education

  • Trends in faculty development

  • Athabasca University TGIF study

  • Findings

  • Next steps

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Scholarship tensions
Scholarship tensions Education

  • 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 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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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 Education

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 Education

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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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 Education

  • 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
However … Education

  • 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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Conclusion
Conclusion Education

  • 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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