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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)
Workload and Compensation

Is distance education offered in addition to regular course offerings, or does it replace other classes? Faculty interest groups have suggested that faculty workload may increase as distance education proliferates. In particular, some have concluded that distance education offerings require a disproportionate investment of time and effort on the part of faculty members, even when compared with classroom courses of comparable size, content, and credit. While these data cannot address student-faculty ratios at the departmental or institutional level, and cannot examine causal relationships, several measures of the teaching load at the faculty level are available to provide a snapshot of the activities of those faculty who do and do not teach distance classes.

Overall, the teaching load was somewhat higher for instructional faculty and staff teaching distance classes than for those not doing so. On average, full-time faculty reporting participation in distance education taught at least one class or section more in fall 1998 than those not teaching either distance education classes or non–face-to-face classes. The difference appeared to be due to their teaching more for-credit classes or sections, rather than more noncredit classes or sections. Faculty teaching distance classes also averaged about 3.1 unique course preparations, compared with about 2.5 preparations for their colleagues not teaching distance classes. These relationships were also found for part-time faculty and when controlling for other characteristics such as institution type, teaching discipline, and level of classroom instruction. However, the average class size for faculty who taught distance classes was comparable to the average class size for those faculty who did not, and the percentage of total work time spent on teaching activities was also similar for faculty who taught distance classes (62 percent) and those who did not (60 percent).

Incorporating distance education into faculty schedules as part of regular teaching loads, as overloads, or on a class-by-class basis has implications for the compensation faculty receive for their work. Despite the difference in workload, the basic salary instructional faculty and staff received from their institution for calendar year 1998 was similar regardless of participation in distance education. This analysis also looked at additional income faculty received from the institution, such as money received for summer sessions, overloads, or coaching, for that year. Full-time faculty who taught classes offered through distance education programs earned about $1,700 more in additional institutional income (beyond their basic salary) than those who did not teach such classes; however, compensation for those who taught non–face-to-face classes was comparable to compensation for their colleagues who taught only face-to-face classes. Part-time faculty who taught either type of distance class were similar in the additional income they received.

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