Vol. 29 No. 1 (2014)
Research Articles

An Exploratory Case Study of Online Instructors: Factors Associated with Instructor Engagement

J X Seaton
University of Saskatchewan
Bio
Richard A. Schwier
University of Saskatchewan
Bio
Published August 5, 2014
Keywords
  • Distance Education,
  • Instructor motivation,
  • Time management,
  • Barriers,
  • Research,
  • Instruction,
  • Online
  • ...More
    Less

Abstract

This study identified factors associated with instructor engagement in online courses. We believe that this topic deserves attention because quality of instruction is one of the strongest predictors of a successful online course. As researchers, our hope is that, by understanding the factors which influence perceptions of success by online instructors, policies and/or programs can be implemented to support online instructors, which, in turn, will result in higher quality online courses. This research was an exploratory case study in which the experiences of twelve online instructors were examined over one year. The identified themes based on the participants’ experiences will inform the direction of a larger quantitative study. Participant interviews were analyzed for evidence of positive and negative experiences and how frequently each occurred. We expected that participants who were less engaged in teaching would describe more negative experiences than other participants. Specific barriers to online engagement included lack of social presence, an increase in workload, and technological issues. Research priorities were determined to influence the instructors’ ability to cope with these barriers. Instructors who were hired to teach and conduct research held mixed and often negative feelings about teaching in online environments.

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