Perceptions of Quality in an Online Learning Environment: A Faculty Outlook
Adams, Michele April
King, Stephanie B.
The study investigated the faculty perception of quality in online courses. The areas considered were media richness, interaction, synchronism, self-efficacy, online teaching experience, and education level. Participants included members of three online Yahoo groups that were designed for online faculty members. There were 510 total members surveyed with 203 respondents for a response rate of 39.8%. The study was conducted during the spring semester of 2009. Of the six research questions four were supported. Media richness, interaction, and self-efficacy were related to perceived quality. Media richness explained a total of 7.9% of the variability in faculty ratings of perceived online course quality. The results for interaction indicate that a relationship was not found between interactions with students in general and perceived quality of the online course by faculty, however, a significant relationship was found between several of the individual interaction items and the quality items. The self-efficacy variable explained 30.6% of the variability in faculty ratings of perceived quality. Online teaching experience was related to perceived quality when controlling for course variables. Synchronism and faculty education level were not related to perceived quality. Conclusions based on the findings indicated that to increase faculty perception, course developers should focus on building classes with rich learning environments, creating feelings of perceived quality, and fostering commitment to the classroom. Courses that have media rich content convey the message to the student better than courses without the inclusion of such content. Interaction is the cornerstone of online learning so multiple modes of interaction are necessary in online courses. Having self-efficacy allow the faculty to accomplish their goal, handle unexpected events, find solutions to problems, and handle whatever might occur in the respective courses. Allowing faculty members to upload media rich information for future courses could add value to the course. Selecting a Learning Management System that allows for a highly interactive classroom is important to faculty members. Future research studies should evaluate the capabilities of additional constructs as determinants of perceived quality from the faculty perspective.