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PEDAR: Executive Summary Distance Education Instruction by Postsecondary Faculty and Staff: Fall 1998
Instructional Faculty and Staff Teaching For-Credit Distance Classes
Workload and Compensation
Student/Faculty Interaction
Other Findings
Research Methodology
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)

Distance education availability, course offerings, and enrollments increased rapidly during the 1990s. The proliferation of distance education offerings at the nation's degree-granting institutions has sparked considerable public debate, with vocal proponents and detractors. However, the extent to which instructional faculty and staff are involved in distance education has not been extensively explored.

This report begins to address some of the questions about the role of faculty in distance education in fall 1998 using the 1999 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:99). In NSOPF:99, instructional faculty and staff at 2- and 4-year degree-granting institutions were asked questions about a wide range of issues.

The analysis in this report focuses on whether instructional faculty and staff—that is, respondents who reported teaching one or more classes for credit whether or not they were considered by the institution to have faculty status1 —indicated teaching at least one distance class. This report uses two items from the NSOPF:99 faculty questionnaire to determine whether respondents taught any distance classes. First, for each of up to five for-credit classes, respondents were asked to indicate whether the class was taught "through a distance education program."2 In this report, respondents answering "yes" for any of their classes are described as having taught at least one "distance education class." Second, for each of the same for-credit classes, respondents were asked to indicate the primary medium used to teach the class: face-to-face, computer, TV-based, or other. Respondents indicating that any of their classes were taught using any primary medium other than face-to-face communication are described as having taught at least one "non–face-to-face class." Each of these two variables provides a measure of participation in distance education. When results apply to both measures, the term "distance class" is used.

Although the NSOPF:99 faculty questionnaire lacked detailed questions about modes of technology, training, and instructional practices in individual distance education courses, the data permit description of national patterns of faculty involvement in distance education. The findings also describe the relationships of participation in distance education to other aspects of faculty work, such as workload and student interaction. The results presented here also serve as a baseline for studies of trends in faculty participation in distance education using future data collections. The report first presents the proportion of faculty who taught distance classes and the relationship of faculty and institutional characteristics to teaching distance classes. Then, instructional faculty and staff who taught distance classes are compared with those who did not in terms of workload and compensation, interactions with students, classroom and student practices, and job satisfaction. Most of the analyses for this report were conducted separately for full- and part-time respondents.

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