Vol. 22 No. 3 (2008)
Research Articles

Disciplinary Differences in E-learning Instructional Design

Glenn Gordon Smith
University of South Florida
Ana T. Torres-Ayala
University of South Florida
Allen J. Heindel
University of South Florida
Published August 16, 2008
  • distance education,
  • e-learning,
  • instructional design,
  • intellectual disciplines


Discipline is a vital, yet largely overlooked, factor in research on e-learning course design. This study investigated disciplinary differences in the instructional design of e-learning, by comparing how instructors of mathematics-related disciplines versus others: a) met the challenges of their discipline in e-learning and b) perceived the adequacy of course management systems (CMSs). Investigators used a two-phase method: a) qualitative telephone and face to face interviews, and b) web-based questionnaires. Mathematics instructors suggested very different disciplinary challenges and corresponding e-learning solutions. Mathematics-related instructors were significantly less likely to view prevailing e-learning models and CMSs as well-suited to their discipline.