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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)
Student/Faculty Interaction

Both proponents and critics of distance education stress that personal interaction is crucial to the learning process, but disagree over whether the kind of interaction the distance education student experiences is of comparable educational value to that experienced by the on-campus student. NSOPF:99 included a few indicators of faculty availability to or interaction with students, including both traditional means (office hours and student contact hours) and a more novel one (e-mail communication).

Based on the evidence available for these types of contact, those faculty who participated in distance education appeared to interact with students, or be available to them, more than their nondistance counterparts in fall 1998. Full-time faculty teaching distance classes held slightly more office hours per week than their peers who did not teach distance education classes or non–face-to-face classes.

And because they taught more for-credit classes, while average class size was comparable, faculty teaching distance classes had more student contact hours per week than those not teaching such classes. Furthermore, full-time faculty who taught distance classes were more likely than other faculty to communicate with their students via e-mail.

Among those doing so, distance education faculty reported exchanging e-mail with a higher percentage of their students, and spending more time each week in this activity, than their nondistance colleagues. For example, full-time instructional faculty and staff who taught any distance education classes spent about an hour and a half more each week responding to student e-mail than their counterparts teaching only traditional classes. Many of these differences were found for part-time faculty as well.

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