Distance education faculty reflections: a look at civic responsibility and community engagement

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

Civic responsibility and moral character are at the heart of many higher learning institutions' mission statements (Boyte & Kari, 2000; Thomson, Smith-Tolken, Naidoo, & Bringle, 2011; Urban &Wagoner, 2000). However, little research exists that examines how civic education should be incorporated into online education, what civic education looks like in an online environment, or if traditional methods of delivering civic education are appropriate for distance learning. This study was qualitative in nature and uses grounded theory methods to allow the opportunity for the participants to construct what it means to produce a citizen by using distance education as the local discourse. Faculty were interviewed to allow for their perceptions and reflections of online civic education to uncover a clearer understanding of what civic education, civic responsibility, and community engagement means in a distance education environment. Through data collection and analysis several interesting findings emerged. Time played a key factor in the delivery and ultimately the success of an online course with civic engagement components. Data suggests that development could take several semesters when taking into account factors such as accurate assessment of students, collaboration with community partners, communication, and general coordination of the course. Perhaps the most interesting finding focused on how the definition of citizenship and ultimately how faculty presented civic education was changing. Much of the research suggests that civic education is evolving to include a more global definition. This dynamic and changing understanding of civic education exemplified in the data is in concert with the current literature on civic education and engagement ((Bartik, 2004; Becker, 1993; Brandl & Weber, 1995; Caputo, 2005; Enrlich, 1997; Furo, 2010; Giles & Eysler, 1994;Kerringan, 2005; Kuh, 2011; Malin, 2011; Markus, Howard, &King, 1993; Perry & Katula, 2001; Weiss, 2004; Wesch, 2009; Wilhite & Silver, 2005). These changes and variations in definition of citizenship and civic education are all effecting how civic education should be incorporated in the 21st century learning.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Educational technology, Curriculum development, Instructional design