Faculty integration of computer-mediated learning technologies into teaching praxis
Parchoma, Gale Ann
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The purpose of the study was to examine organizational structural, cultural, pedagogical, and economic (reward system) elements of a traditional research-oriented university for influences on faculty adoption of computer-mediated learning technologies (CMLTs). Emergent driving and restraining societal and organizational influences (Lewin, 1951) on faculty members’ adoption of CMLTs were examined. Faculty members’ perceptions of the extent to which university policies and practices were aligned to support the successful design, development, and implementation of CMLTs were explored. A case study of faculty members, who had led CMLT development teams in a provincially funded Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) initiative at one university between 2000 and 2005, was conducted in four stages. In the first stage of the study, focus groups and members’ checks were held with instructional designers in order to identify potentially information-rich CMLT projects. Findings from this included an examination of the social negotiation process among members of CMLT development teams, and provided the bases for selecting faculty members to invite to participate in the study. Stage Two was a pilot of the faculty interview protocol that resulted in protocol refinement. In Stage Three, seven faculty members and one graduate student participated in interviews and members’ checks of the results. Faculty members were asked to describe their motivations for adopting CMLTs into teaching praxis, any resultant changes to their scholarship of teaching, the compensation they received for time invested in pedagogical and technological innovation, and the extent to which institutional structures, cultures, and policies had supported or impeded their efforts. Stage Four involved an environmental scan of institutional and provincial documentation of the TEL initiative as an avenue to corroborating interview data.In this study, it was found that faculty motivations for CMLT adoption included individual responses to departmental initiatives, curricular renewal and standardization activities, personal-professional development, integrating research into teaching, enhancing student learning, increasing the flexibility of student access to learning opportunities, and improving communications with students. Participants reported a variety of resultant changes to their scholarship of teaching: (1) a shift away from traditional lectures and toward learner-focused tutorials, small group and peer-to-peer discussions, and independent learning opportunities for students accessing electronic learning resources; (2) a new or renewed interest in using innovative instructional strategies and learning environments; and (3) a new or heightened interest in researching educational effectiveness. Organizational support for CMLT projects included fiscal support from the TEL program, and in some cases, additional funding provided by departments or colleges; project management support from the institution; pedagogical support from instructional designers; technical and aesthetic support from information technologists, media developers, graphic artists, and a medical illustrator. Organizational and cultural impediments to successful completion of projects varied across college settings. Lack of sufficient time to devote to CMLT development projects, balancing competing research, teaching, and administrative responsibilities with project activities, and therefore, coping with a mismatch between tenure and promotion requirements and necessary time commitments to CMLT projects were pervasive. Difficulties in coordinating large development teams, the slow pace of acquiring approvals for new programs, problematic project management models, and colleagues’ skepticism about and fear of integrating technology into teaching were common themes. This study surfaced implications for organizational change that could better enable faculty efforts to adopt CMLTs. Expanding tenure and promotion criteria to include CMLT development work (Archer, Garrison, & Anderson, 1999; Hagner & Schneebeck, 2001) and revising intellectual property policies for CMLT artifacts to better acknowledge faculty efforts (Hilton & Neal, 2001; Tallman, 2000) could do much to encourage the integration of technology into teaching. Promoting educational effectiveness research studies (Chyung, 2001), and bringing CMLT efforts in from the margins to become a core activity in the scholarship of teaching (Bates, 2001) could erode current skepticism and fear about technologies displacing faculty members (Olcott & Schmidt, 2000). Finally, in this study, theoretical implications for organizational change were posited. Traditional centralized and bureaucratic management styles are not well suited to supporting CMLT initiatives in higher education (Bates, 2001). A more distributed approach to leadership (Knapper, 2006) could better support necessary efforts to innovate, experiment, prototype, evaluate in order to incrementally improve project outcomes (Suter, 2001), create synergies between teaching and research activities, and garner faculty commitment to integrating computer-mediated learning technologies into contemporary teaching praxis.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorSchwier, Richard; Renihan, Patrick
CommitteeScharf, Murray P.; McCalla, Gordon I.; Carr-Stewart, Sheila
Copyright DateApril 2007