Traditional faculty in transition: theory, change, and preparation for the online paradigm
This study examined the transition of faculty to online teaching, as an article style dissertation. The approach was to examine the teaching methods used in both the classroom and online to determine the differences. The meta-theory of Selection, Optimization, and Compensation (SOC), created by Baltes and Baltes (1990), was used as the theoretical framework. In Chapter 2, the SOC theory was tested for suitability by surveying experienced online faculty using the SOC short form (Baltes, Baltes, Freund, & Lang, 1999). Findings indicated that faculty overwhelmingly used SOC strategies when transitioning to online teaching. No significant differences in SOC use were found by age, gender, or ethnicity, indicating the usefulness of SOC strategies for all demographic groups. There was a weak negative correlation between the optimization subscale and online teaching experience. Use of the SOC theory as a suitable framework for this study was confirmed. Chapter 3 involved an extensive review of the literature on best practices for online teaching. An instrument was constructed having 111 items considered important. This instrument was validated by a group of experts confirming 64 items as essential to online teaching. This created the Whitaker Teaching Practices Survey (W-TPS). In Chapter 4 the W-TPS was used to survey online and classroom faculty to determine the extent of use of essential teaching practices. Results indicated no significant difference by age, ethnicity, or online teaching experience. This indicated that many teaching practices considered essential online are being used in the face-to-face classroom, regardless of group identity. There was a significant difference by gender with females scoring higher than males on the W-TPS. There are future research possibilities for SOC and the W-TPS. In this study the “what” of teaching practices was examined – not the “how.” Although many teaching practices are used in both the online and face-to-face classroom, they may be used differently. Future research should examine how these teaching practices are carried out. Additionally, the SOC theory could be used to explore the experience of faculty who are forced to teach online as opposed to those who transition willingly. Replication of this research in a different context could also inform this topic.