Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 2
The primary goal of this study is to explore the faculty perception of professional
development for online teaching at a technical college in Georgia. The study adopted the basic
qualitative approach and used three methods to collect data. First, data was collected on online
faculty perceptions of their professional development for their online environment. Secondly, the
research attempts to determine whether faculty professional development was successful or not.
Third, this study attempts to provide insight into the needs for professional development for
online faculty. The online higher education faculty is prepared to teach in college preparation
programs, technical colleges in Georgia hire teachers on academic credentials as well as years of
experience in the workplace to support the real-world experience-based goals for technical
students. Many faculty members are provided no faculty development prior to teaching online.
This study identifies the need for continued faculty development for online faculty from the
perspective of faculty members.
Background of the Study
This site is for the study is a public post-secondary institution of higher learning in the
Technical College System of Georgia, which provides technical education and training support
for the evolving workforce development needs of Southwest Georgia. Over 4,000 students enroll
each semester, attending from various demographics and ethnicities: student ages range from 16
to the late 70s, and races included, but not limited to, White, African American, and Indian. With
over 125 faculty members providing technical instruction each semester.
As distance education programs evolve with technology trends, concerns about
educational efficacy and retention rise (Costagliola, Ferrucci, Polese, & Scanniello, 2005) .
Distance education allows an individual the opportunity to complete a college degree without
stepping foot on a college campus. Many students find this to be the way to complete a degree on
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 3
their own terms; however, many students who sign up for distance education programs end up
not completing them (Chen, 2010) . The case study performed by (Gregory, & Salmon, 2013)
stated instructors who have the proper training in online teaching enhance student-learning
outcomes. As instructors are trained in developing an online course, improving the course
organization, and creating a warm digital learning environment for the student, they are better
prepared to help students succeed. Some of the faculty members may have never been given
explicit instructions on the proper steps to develop a quality online course or the use of
pedagogical strategies to teach to develop the online course (Chen, 2010) . Therefore, here is the
critical analysis of faculty professional development for online faculty members to improve
course design and development skills. This study is one of the first of its kind in the state of
Georgia to ascertain in which technical college faculty and technical colleges in general are
Through electronic interviews, online faculty provided insights into their experiences
with faculty professional development at a technical college in Georgia. Some faculty provided
recommendations for faculty professional development.
The research questions guiding this study are:
• What are online faculty’s perceptions of faculty professional development for online
• What are online faculty’s perceptions on acquired knowledge for designing and
developing online courses to better impact online students?
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 4
• Do online faculty perceive that the institution is providing them adequate professional
Significance of the Study
The increase in online student enrollment makes it imperative that online courses are
developed with student success in mind. Over 50,000 students in the Virtual College System
(VCS) took online classes in the fiscal year of 2017 (Technical College System of Georgia
[TCSG], 2017). Due to the increase in online enrollment, colleges are faced with the task of
making sure the online developmental courses are as effective as previous delivery methods
(Petrides, & Nodine, 2014; Tallent-Runnels et al., 2012). Between 2015 and 2016, the
institutions in the state of Georgia offering developmental classes online increased from 3% to
13 %. The TSCG has 26 colleges that provide traditional and online classes to over 130,000
students, with more than 75,000 of those students enrolled in an online class (TSCG, 2017).
With faculty members being the subject matter experts, and perhaps the sole developers
of their online course, it is imperative that they understand and know how to use their Learning
Management System (LMS). Research states that by helping them understand and apply best
practices in online course creation and delivery, there is an increased level of success for faculty
building courses and the learners for whom they build the class (Murray et al., 2012). To assure
that faculty members understand the LMS, there may need to be training programs. Faculty
development should be an ongoing process. Identifying faculty's perception of faculty perception
of faculty professional development for online faculty should benefit the institution in planning
future faculty developments.
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 5
Definition of Key Terms
For the purpose of this study, the following definitions of terms are presented:
Online Learning – attending courses or classes at a distance with no need of attending classes
on a campus. Can be completed completely using a computer with Internet access.
Professional Learning/Development – training performed as specialized training, formal
education or some type of advance learning for administrators, teachers, and other educators to
improve their knowledge and skills.
Technical College – colleges whose primary goal and focus is workforce development aimed at
providing services, skills and attitudes to support businesses, industries, and organizations in
specific service delivery areas across their state.
Workforce Development- Learning management system and faculty academy technologically
advanced skills that are provided to individuals in support of industry and businesses need to
maintain services and provide products for the community.
Learning Management System – Learning Management Systems (LMS) is a tool for creating,
distributing, tracking, and managing various types of educational and training material (Mershad
& Wakim, 2018).
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 6
It states as that the, Technology can be used both in ways means it could be used in either
ways that are consistent with teachers’ existing practices and in ways that shift their practices;
this difference depends upon the type of technology the professional development uses. A
teacher must be able to understand how technology connects with both pedagogy and the content
of the curriculum. A change in the instructional use of computers is dependent upon
understanding the instructional practices needed to use technology while teaching the curriculum
(Murray, Pérez, Geist, & Alison , 2012) . Often, a teacher’s technology professional development
experience is of a short duration, with the primary focus being on developing computer skills
(Murray, Pérez, Geist, & Alison , 2012) . An inherent flaw in skill-based technology professional
development is that it does not focus on instructional practices. Normally, when teachers are
provided with technology professional development focusing primarily on technical skills, they
may fall back on technology uses consistent with their existing instructional practices because
they have not been provided with an alternative vision for the use of technology. However, this
could be changed if professional development presents technology within the context of student-
centered instructional practices (Matzen, & Edmunds, 2017). This way, teachers might be more
likely to change their instructional practices with their use of technology.
Many institutions of higher education are challenged by the task of increasing the number
of staff to teach online or blended modes of learning (Chen, 2010) . Janet Gregory and Gilly
(Salmon, (2013) designed a program for professional learning. In their experience, they had little
time and opportunities to begin from scratch and thus chose to employ a course that was strongly
rooted in a well-rehearsed and respected pedagogical model which are cognitive models or
theoretical constructs derived from learning theory that enable the implementation of specific
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 7
instructional and learning strategies. They further offered their experience in the form of a case
study coupled with a set of principles to aid other parties interested in professional development:
the value of contextualization; incremental innovation; and mentoring online (Gregory, &
Salmon, 2013). These principles are especially important for individuals seeking to provide
effective professional development education to large numbers of staff.
There are several documented ways of teaching lecturers in the course of professional
development. First, it can occur through an involvement in learning-by-doing strategies. These
strategies incorporate informal, organic and need-driven strategies. Sometimes, these methods
are referred to as “bottom-up” staff development processes (Northcote, Reynaud, & Beamish,
2012). On the other hand, sometimes members of the teaching staff are formally directed to
develop online teaching skills through a variety of compulsory staff development workshops and
courses. These approaches constitute what is often known as “top-down” staff development
processes. As detailed by Northcote, Reynaud, and Beamish (2012), a group of staff conducted a
survey to establish the concerns and practices of the teaching staff. After the analysis, they
concluded that the “middle-out” staff development strategy, made up of a mixture of informal
and formal strategies, was the best approach in professional development (Northcote, Reynaud,
& Beamish, 2012). They further added that the approach should acknowledge the ethos of the
institution and the specific needs of the staff involved.
Today, it is only fair to acknowledge that professional development opportunities are too
limited for faculty who are learning to teach on the online platforms. Although most of the time
preparation is provided in the form of technology training, little emphasis is put on the pedagogy
of teaching over the web. In addition, most professional development programs offer their
workshops on campus instead of providing an opportunity for faculty to learn these skills online.
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 8
A good example of a program that could be a model for better preparation with a free, open,
year-long online class is the Program for Online Teaching Certificate Class (Murray, Pérez,
Geist, & Alison , 2012) . This program also focused on pedagogy and tool choice with
participants engaged in active reflection as part of a community. Participants in the 2011-12 class
were surveyed regarding several objectives, including whether their learning goals were achieved
within the framework of the class. Participants, including 16 who earned a certificate through full
participation, overwhelmingly indicated the achievement of their personal learning goals,
satisfaction with the community developed within the class, and increased confidence in their
ability to build online classes around their pedagogy rather than being led by the technology
tools (Lane, 2013). This indicates that an open, online class could be an effective model for
faculty development in online teaching (Gilly, 2013) .
In the wake of the Great Recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June, 2009, the
loss of wealth led to sharp cutbacks in consumer spending (New Jobs in Recession, 2011). Bad
economic times have often been good for education, either because the decreased availability of
good jobs encourages more people to seek education, or because those currently employed seek
to improve their chances for advancement by advancing their education. This was not different in
this period of recession. Since then, online enrollments have been growing substantially faster
than traditional higher education enrollments. In 2008, the 12.9 percent growth rate for online
enrollments far exceeded the 1.2 percent growth of the overall higher education student
population. Due to the bad economic times, chief academic officers and online teaching faculty
clarified that the flexibility in meeting the needs of students was the most important motivation
of teaching online (Allen & Seaman, 2008). Because of the rapid shift in the average educational
demographic towards a more non-traditional student, the academic chiefs, administrators,
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 9
teachers, and other educators would have no choice but innovate in order to remain relevant in
the market. Globalization is making the education market in the United States more international.
In Canada, for example, companies are encouraged to compete globally, based on their ability to
innovate successfully (Angel, 2006). This also applies in the field of innovation; stakeholders in
this field must innovate to order to grasp markets outside the country. To achieve this, an
innovation culture should be fostered, one that includes sharing ideas in a team, using
measurement to change behavior, making front-line supervisors better coaches of their teams and
holding annual education boot camps for administrators, teachers, and educators to improve their
professional skills (Darabi & Jin, 2012 ) . Therefore, the first move in professional learning
would be to foster a culture of innovation on ways online learning can be implemented in the
Secondly, it would be important to involve current and prospective students when making
decisions on the tools and practices to support online classes. A survey was completed asking
students what tools and practices they felt supported their learning in online classes. The tools
and practices the students were queried about were those promoted within faculty development
activities at the university and broken down into three main categories for purposes of the
survey. The categories included course design, questions were asked about the organization and
layout of online courses and syllabi instructional content, questions were asked about types of
instructional content and use of multimedia to deliver course content and communication and
interaction. Also, questions were asked about the types of communication and interaction
students felt supported their learning (Young, & Hoerig, 2013). The main aim of doing this was
to support the student’s preferences for online learning. In this particular study, it was discovered
that additional attention and focus must be paid to training in online interaction between students
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 10
and faculty as well as a multimedia presentation of content. The template and design of the
courses must be planned effectively to enhance the outcomes of online coursework. While debate
continues about the effectiveness of online instruction compared to traditional face-to-face
classes, this meta-analysis by the USDE of 51 study effects, mostly in older learners, found that
students who took all or part of their class online performed better than those taking the same
course through traditional instruction. As the number of online students grows and the scope
expands, instructors must find ways to maintain rigor and content via nontraditional course
delivery. In the quest to analyze the quality of courses and a template in a graduate studies
program from faculty perspectives regarding improvements in program goals and student
outcomes, (Borgemenke, Holt, and Fish, (2013) took part in the migration of a traditionally
delivered principal preparation program to full online course delivery. The course shell template
was reviewed to determine if it was of importance to students and instructors alike. In their
recommendation, the authors employed the new online compressed model in the hopes of
increasing student enrollment. This new program was relatively popular as it experienced
explosive student growth since the 2009-2010 semesters. Well-chosen technology resources
infused into the classroom instruction can create more engaged and better students. (Byrne,
(2009) shares some successes on combining technologies with teaching and provides a number
of suggestions on how to create more engaged students. He points out that in today’s results-
oriented school culture, having the ability to measure the effect of technology in the classroom
on student learning is important to teachers, librarians, and school administrators. One major
advantage of using Web 2.0 tools is that the users can voice their opinions on previous user’s
postings and trace back all the messages (Byrne, 2009). The users also develop a habit of
information verifying and knowledge locating. Today, the next generation of websites allow the
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 11
end-user to upload, categorize, and share content easily. Weblogs and podcasts allow anyone to
publish or broadcast on any topic. Wikis provide information that is constantly updated by the
end-user. Open-source software is free and customizable. New Schools provides a
comprehensive overview of the emerging Web 2.0 technologies and their use in the classroom
and in professional development. Topics include blogging as a natural tool for writing
instruction, wikis and their role in project collaboration, podcasting as a useful means of
presenting information and ideas, and how to use Web 2.0 tools for professional development.
Also included are a discussion of Web 2.0 safety and security issues and a look towards the
future of the Web 2.0 movement. Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools is essential reading for
teachers, administrators, technology coordinators, and teacher educators (Solomon, & Schrum,
2007). Even though technology has advanced, instructors must be innovative with regards to
content delivery and provide the students with a sense of instructor presence. Many scholars
have suggested that the online instructor is the critical factor for a successful learning experience.
Some of the indicators of instructor’s presence include behavior such as communicating, sharing
information, and maintaining a sense of community within the course. In the past few years,
these indicators have been directly linked to student perception of success in meeting learning
outcomes. Web 2.0 tools offer ways to personalize classes and demonstrate instructional
presence. Some of the more widely recognized tools include blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, video and
photo sharing, avatars, microblogging, social bookmarking, and social media. In a period of free,
easily accessible Web-based tools, users are able to access, as well as create and contribute
information to sites (Karyn, 2012). In an online classroom setting, Web 2.0 tools enable
instructors to interact with students in a variety of innovative ways. Instead of passively viewing
the information, students collaborate and learn as a classroom community.
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 12
The universal course shell template had several components namely: syllabus, course
homepage, student grading, course content and assignments, multimedia, student discussion
responses, student assignments and student Q & A. This template was considered effective as it
led to a number of changes in the master’s program. These include: the program was migrated to
fully online status and courses were shortened to 7 weeks in length. The number of semester
credit hours required to complete the master’s degree and principal’s certification courses was
lowered from 36 to 30 and the amount of time that students need to complete the program was
shortened by several months in length. The program completion rate rose significantly; and the
first-time student passing percentage on the state of Texas school administrator certification
examination is now greater than 95% (Borgemenke, Holt, & Fish, 2013). There are a number of
other course design factors that can improve student learning and satisfaction in the online
environment. One of the ways would be fine-tuning course-shells to make them simple to
navigate and understand. When the entire course works well, the students do not indicate stress
and the mechanics of the course fade into oblivion if they do not present a problem (Miller,
After learning the student behavior and response to the eLearning templates, the quality
of learning would then be determined by the eLearning platform. The process of creating an
eLearning program must be thorough. Salmon, Jones, and Armellini (2008) detail the research
development and initial outcomes of an intervention process to promote capability building in
designing for e-learning at a dual mode university located in the United Kingdom. The authors
primarily focus on the model workshop, its deployment, research and development over a 12-
month period with a variety of subject groups working closely with pedagogical facilitators,
learning technologists and librarians. Using this process, the outcomes included improved
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 13
ranking on the institutional e-learning benchmarking exercise. The results also saw increased
capability for designing for online activities for the students taking part in the Virtual Learning
Environment (VLE) (Salmon, Jones, & Armellini, 2008). Because of its immense success and
stability, the authors recommend it be used by other institutions as it continues to develop in
scope. According to Mohanty Atasi, and Madanmohan Samanta, there are four principles to be
kept in mind for successful teaching in the virtual classroom dealing with: media richness, timely
responsiveness, organization, and interaction (Atasi & Madanmohan, 2008). The online teacher
is not only to be a professional in dealing with technology, but also must use teaching strategies
to ensure interaction and communication between students. Also, instructors have to take into
account the modes of student learning. (Höhne, (2013) indicated that most people have a
preferred learning style. There are different learning types. Some people are visual learners
which means they learn primarily through visualization and observation. Some are auditory
learners who learn through listening. The communicative learners are those who learn through
communication and interaction. The last type is the kinesthetic learner. These learners learn
through practical activities.
In addition to the teacher’s skills and styles of learning, there is a very important aspect
which is the curriculum. The curriculum must be developed taking into account the special
features of the virtual classroom. It is an organized learning experience which describes the
content of a degree programmed, provides conceptual structure and time frame to get that degree.
The curriculum in the proposed virtual classroom concept consists of courses. The course is
organized in learning experiences in an area of the education (Horváth, Rudas, & Kaynak, 2001).
Preparing an online learning program, professionals in this field must acknowledge that
the program would be used by learners with different cognitive styles. In an article by
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 14
Chen(2010) a study was carried out on a Web-based learning system (WBLS) and analyses on
learners’ browsing data recorded in the log file to identify how learners' cognitive styles and
learning behavior are related. To develop the most suitable WBLS, the author proposes a design
model for system designers to tailor the preferences connected to each cognitive style. To
facilitate this process, samples comprised of 105 third-year Accounting Information System
course students from a technology university in central Taiwan. The results revealed that learners
with different cognitive styles have similar but linear learning approaches and learners with
different cognitive styles adopt different navigation tools to process teaching (Chen, 2010). A
heavy cognitive load has been linked to the lack of quality associated with conventional online
discussion. (Darabi and Jin, (2012) used the principles of cognitive load theory to create four
online discussion strategies to specifically reduce the discussants’ cognitive load thus enhancing
the quality of their online discussion. The four strategies include example-posting, filtered
posting, limited-number-of-posting and combined discussion strategy. The example-posting
strategy aimed at providing proper examples of posting to learners. The filtered posting strategy
allows the learners to see only relevant posts. The limited-number-of-posting strategy aimed at
limiting the number of discussion post displayed on discussion boards. The last strategy,
combined discussion, was the combination of above three approaches. According to this strategy,
there will be only 2 example posts, and no more than nine filtered (relevant to the topic)
discussion posts. The result of the activity indicated that: in comparison to a conventional
discussion strategy, the discussion quality was significantly enhanced for participants using
example-posting strategy and limited-number-of-posting strategy. In this case, the cognitive load
was significantly reduced for participants through the use of filtered posting and combination
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 15
strategies (Darabi & Jin, 2012). Also, an instructional efficiency of all proposed strategies was
found to be significantly better than conventional discussion strategy.
In the field of Software Engineering, a modeling language is used to create standardized
ways of visualizing a design, known as Unified Modeling Language. So, a group of authors
proposed a visually based approach to support an instructional designer in the creation of e-
learning activities, distance courses, and assessments. Specifically, the team extended Unified
Modeling Language (UML) activity diagrams to suit the definition and generation of current e-
learning activities. In their research, language turned out to be powerful in presenting e-learning
activities to end-users by offering them an easy user interface which allows them to keep track of
the student’s progress. Also, they presented a prototype based on the proposed approach. The
system created included integrated modules for different authoring activities including distance
courses, assessments, and self-assessment (Costagliola, Ferrucci, Polese, & Scanniello, 2005).
These four authors strongly believe that the formidable and innovative tools including laptop,
tablet PCs, PDAs, TV, and cellular phones can replace the traditional classroom activities
including lectures homework and assignments. As online learning continues to expand in
educational institutes around the world, educators must be in a position to understand how
interaction with online course content affects the student engagement and learning at large.
(Murray, Pérez, Geist, and Hedrick, (2012) investigated the study patterns of access to
instructional resources provided in an asynchronous online digital literacy course offered at a
regional university in the United States. Frequency counts and access rates collected from a
learning management system were used to assess patterns of student retrieval of course materials
in four categories: core materials, direct support, indirect support and ancillary materials. In the
analysis stage, it emerged that students selectively access course content based on the degree to
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 16
which they perceived it will positively influence performance and outcomes on assignments and
assessments. Their study also confirmed that students do indeed access course resources, albeit
selectively. Mostly, students access content and resources that provide direct support or guidance
for completing course requirements and assessments. This, therefore, means that students are less
likely to actively engage with course materials that they perceive to be ancillary or secondary
(Murray, Pérez, Geist, & Alison, 2012). As a result, the authors shed light on the importance of
weaving course content into a cohesive compelling bundle.
The effectiveness of an online course heavily relies on how actively students are engaged
with the instructors, their classmates, with technology and the course management tools. The
future of online learning lies in the impactful, purposeful, active online activities or e-activities
that keep learners engaged, motivated, and participating (Gilly, 2013). Engaging activities for
online courses are designed to be relevant to the content, associated with course objectives and
outcomes, require active involvement from students, increase retention, and be fun and
rewarding. Simply clicking a link, or uploading a file, is just the first step towards other
experiences of interactive learning. Some of the methods that can be employed to create
engaging activities for online courses include Syllabus quiz, interview reports, feedback survey,
and blogs or discussion posts. In addition, there are also factors that affect students’ satisfaction
and perceived learning from asynchronous online learning. In a study carried out on the
relationships between student perception and course design factors in three SUNY Learning
Network courses in the Spring, 1999 semester, it was established that three general factors
namely: clarity of design, interaction with instructors, and active discussion among course
participants significantly influenced student’s satisfaction and perceived learning (Swan, 2006).
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 17
To conclude, in today’s rapidly changing world and busy schedules, an online education
course is a necessity to some types of students, particularly nontraditional students. Technology
should be used in such a way that it aligns with existing teaching strategies, but shifts the
teaching practices, too. The effectiveness of an online course is dependent on the engagement of
participants in class and their satisfaction with the tools, so the current and prospective students
should be involved when making decisions on the tools and practices to support online classes.
This study uses the basic qualitative approach in which the characteristics would be taken
into consideration. This is a specific research project to “seek to discover and understand a
phenomenon, a process, or the perspectives and world views of the people involved” (Merriam,
1998, p.11). In this respect, qualitative methodologies refer to research approaches as the tools
with which researchers design their studies, and collect and analyze their data (Given, 2008).
This method was employed to triangulate the data and provide a more thorough examination of
the problem being investigated. The qualitative approach was selected to reveal online faculty
perception of faculty development. These perceptions have been developed from years of
teaching at the technical college. Being a former online instructor, the researcher has personal
experience and knowledge on online learning professional development.
Triangulation of research methods through multiple sources was used in this study to
enhance validity and credibility (Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Marshall & Rossman, 2006). In
addition, triangulation reduces the possibility of chance associations, as well as of systematic
biases prevailing due to a specific method being utilized, thereby allowing greater confidence in
any interpretations made (Maxwell, 1996).
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 18
This study used the theoretical-construct sampling method. This method is appropriate as
at the time of the essence and the administration has decided on faculty status they would like to
participate. The theoretical-construct sampling method has also been said to be appropriate for
generating theory whereby the analyst jointly collects, codes and analyses his data and decides
what data to collect next and where to find them in order to develop his theory as it emerges”
(Glaser & Strauss, 2012). The faculty for this study included full and part-time faculty who
teach online. Participants in this study included faculty who have taught at the technical college
in Georgia for more than one year. The participants are from various disciplines with different
teaching styles. Faculty members participating are teachers from Early Childhood Care &
Education, Technology, Business & Personal Business, Health Care Technology, and Public
Safety Divisions that offer online programs. Some of the faculty members may have online
teaching experience for years while others may be within their second year of online instruction.
The college is one of 26 institutions comprising the Technical College System of
Georgia. The college has the best graduation and placement rate in the TCSG. The population is
composed of primarily African American students varying in ages and gender, according to
instructors’ records and enrollment history with an annual enrollment of over 4,000 students,
85% are African American.
One of the important research considerations is the fact that the electronic interview
should seek consent from the participants. Seeking the consent of the participants creates a good
relationship between the researcher and the participants because their rights have been respected.
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 19
Another thing that can affect the relationship between the researchers and the participants is
causing harm to the participants during the research. For example, a participant might give a
view which may put him or her in a bad situation with his or her boss leading to the loss of the
job. In such a case, the research will have caused harm to the participants who may live to hate
Development of the Interview Guide
The interview process provided knowledge of professional development for online
faculty. The interview protocol was divided into three sections. The first section contained the
general information about the online faculty's perception of faculty development for online
faculty, while the second section covered information on knowledge gained from these
development sessions. The last section addressed whether the institution provided adequate
professional development for online faculty. This study will utilize both semi-structured and
open-ended interview processes. (See Appendix A)
Data for this study was collected through an electronic interview process. Completing
this method allowed the participants to type out the responses of their perception of faculty
development for online faculty, and was conducted in this manner due to time restraints. To call
the people to participate in the email interview an email notification was generated so that they
could be notified and the open ended questions consisted of 6 questions. The online faculty
members were also informed about the selection process and the guarantee of confidentiality.
Their time commitment was explained in the announcement containing the electronic interview
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 20
Following the collection of responses to the open ended questions were not viewed until the
closing date of the interviews, to ensure a fair and ethical research process. The data was then
exported into an excel file to be processed, organized, and analyzed.
Role of the Researcher
The role of the researcher in this qualitative research was to collect and report on online
faculty members knowledgeable of the online faculty academy, whether or not they gained
knowledge, and if the institution providing adequate faculty professional development. With the
short timeframe of this research, it is imperative that there is a clear plan for collecting and
reporting and in this method, the researchers focus their time on collecting and reporting. As the
researcher analyzed the interview responses, the researcher will analyze the responses to
understand the perceptive of the faculty member.
The data collected consisted of electronic interview responses. Interviews were sought
from faculty members who have taught online at the technical college more than one year. The
interview response consisted of six open-ended questions about faculty professional development
for online faculty. The first set of questions were to collect general information about the online
faculty's perception of faculty professional development for online faculty, while the second
section will contain information on knowledge gained. The last section addressed whether the
institution provided adequate faculty development for online faculty.
The demographics of this study include participants (n=18) who responded to the study
and were faculty members from various departments. There was no information collected on the
characteristics of the participants but more so on the perception of faculty professional
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 21
development for online faculty. The following sections will outline the purpose and the interview
responses collection through the interview questions.
An email was sent out to all faculty members from the vice president of academic affairs
who had completed at least one year of teaching online. A total of 22 participants responded to
the interviewed by viewing the initial question which was the consents agreement, but only 18
participants completed the whole interview. The interviews were conducted within a one-week
Data Analysis Process
The interview responses were examined significantly for ideas related to faculty
professional development for online faculty. In analyzing the electronic interview responses, the
process was an inductive process looking for relevant themes. The guide to analyzing the
responses was the research questions. While analyzing there was a search for the answer to the
research question in which the question was identified for. The theme was to adapt with the
strength and weakness as pointed out in responses, then give a descriptive code to analyze the
percentage. A descriptive code assigns labels to data to summarize in a word or short
phrase—most often a noun—the basic topic of a passage of qualitative data (Miles, Huberman,
& Saldana, 2014). Following using the descriptive code each response were counted in the
descriptive code category, then calculated to provide the percent of that category.
General Information on Faculty Professional Development
The first section covered general information on the perception of professional
development for online faculty, attempting to understand their perception of faculty professional
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 22
development experience. The first question asked about the most favorable experience with
faculty professional development for the instructor. Many of the participants had a common
response of faculty professional development being most favor when they gained new
knowledge and it was engaging and clear.
As responder # 1, #3, 13 and #16 stated:
“It not only provided information I needed, but it also kept my attention.”
“Gaining of new knowledge”
“The information was engaging and clearly presented.”
“The training session was interactive and engaging. The presenter was skilled in getting
the participants to buy into the need for the training.”
Responder #14 responded similarly with “the ease of the training” was most favorable. While
Responder # 10 responded:
“My most favorable experience with faculty professional development has been when
individuals communicate well and are hands on. Those who lead faculty professional
development should make sure sessions are interactive and provide opportunities for
faculty to engage with the learning platforms or learning materials.”
Responder #10 enjoyed more hands-on training but also liked the time to be engaged in the
professional development. Responder #11’s most favorable time was having others from other
organizations share their best practices. As for one of the responders, the most favorable time is
content being taught that is applicable and useful for the course and making teaching easier.
These responses to question #1 gave details on the favor of faculty professional development.
The study looked at general information on faculty professional development. The
instructors were to answer a question about the best experience that they had as the faculty. Most
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 23
of the respondents were of the view that faculty professional development was most favorable
when they gained new knowledge. The respondent number 1 said that it helped him to
concentrate in addition to giving him the information he needed. The third respondent said that it
he gained more knowledge, the 13 th respondent said that the information was engaging and
clearly presented. The sixteenth respondent praised the interactive nature of the training sessions,
praising the presenter for having the skills that makes the participants to love the training.
Knowledge Gained Impacting Course Design for the Success of Students
While some responded with favorable responses to faculty professional development
others felt it was a waste of time with no knowledge gained. Responder #15 stated: “None
existent, forcing us to go through mandatory ‘online’ training is pointless. Especially for younger
professors like myself. I am 24”. Followed by responder #4’s statement “Most of my
professional development has been a waste of time. However, the information on how to
maneuver the platform (Blackboard-taken at another college), and create my own content has
helped a lot”. Respondents that believed they gained knowledge stated:
“I have learned and implemented different methods to help my students understand the
course material better.”
“The knowledge gained has been utilized to transfer course content to students.”
“Knowledge learned was applied to the classroom with some improvement. Student
Another theme in respondents for question #2 is their actual use of technology in courses.
“I captioned my videos.”
“I have learned of her technological resources to use in the classroom for student
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 24
The process that the student gained impacted the course design for the success of the
students. Some gave favorable responses about faculty professional development whereas others
felt that the whole process was a waste of time with no knowledge gained in the process. The 15 th
respondent felt that it was pointless to attend the mandatory online training. The fourth
respondent also felt that he had wasted his time by attending the professional development
course. They were however on the view that the information that involved the maneuvering of
the site was useful to them. The response therefore shows the importance of online training.
The categories identified here are knowledge gain (KG), some knowledge gained (SKG),
and no knowledge gained (NKG). Each category is color coded for identification purposes. Dark
blue representing knowledge gained, green representing some knowledge gained and teal
representing no knowledge gained. We can see from the chart that 67% of the respondents felt
that they gained knowledge in their previous professional developments, while some knowledge
and no knowledge were close with 16 and 17 percent.
Figure 1 : Previous Faculty Professional Development Knowledge Gained Chart
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 25
The Strength of the Institution’s online faculty development and what they need to improve
While some of the of the respondents gave their opinions either on the strength of the
Institution’s online faculty development or what they need to work on, responders 3, 4 and 15
could not attest to any strengths. Responder 3 stated, “N/A”, Responder 4, “I cannot think of any
strengths”, and Responder 15, “None.”
The response on the strength of the institution’s online faculty development includes:
“They provide useful information. They test your understanding of the information. They
“Online faculty development is good, no improvement”
“Variety, dynamic instruction, pertinent to current situations.”
“The school communicates very well.”
“Well the strengths are that it allows the instructor the ability to facilitate classes to the
students to whom they may not be able to attend college.”
Some of the responses on the areas they need to improve include;
“There is virtually no staff development locally for online instructors. Best practices are
not enforced holistically.”
“Online faculty development is crucial especially for faculty that teach multiple courses
and do not have the flexibility to attend formal trainings. I believe there are several things
that can be done to improve such as develop new videos, survey faculty to assess their
needs for professional development, and alternate faculty development content. In order
to do this, staffing is needed in this area to help with providing these resources.”
“The PD needs more step by step instructions so faculty can put things to use
With the theme of responses being the strengths of the institution’s faculty professional
development, the respondents did provide insight on ways to improve the institution’s faculty
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 26
professional development. Looking at the strength of the institution’s online faculty development
and what should be improved. Responder 3, 4 and 15 could not attest to any strengths. Most of
the institutions had many strengths with others thinking that it was not necessary to work on any
improvement to the system. Some of the respondents though that there were areas that needed
improvement with regards to the local development of the staff, there was also a concern about
the improvement of the videos posted. Other respondents believed that the system could be
improved so that it allows them to do other activities. The research revealed the need for the step
by step process in the activities dome within the faculty so that the resources and faculty can be
put to immediate use. The views of the students were essential in helping the institution in
improving the service delivery of the institution in leading to professional development.
The categories identified here are impact (I), some impact (SI), and no impact (NI). The
color codes here representing orange for impact, purple for some impact and red for no impact.
The strength here was that 56% of the participants felt that the current professional development
program made an impact on their career and has affected their teaching. While 39% believe that
there was no impact.
Figure 2 : Institution’s Faculty Development Programs Impacted Chart
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 27
The study identifies several implications for professional development for online faculty
as well as future research. Participants’ response produced themes regarding new knowledge as
the content is engaging and clear, more hands on, video improvement and step by step processes.
Suggestions made by the participants parallel the recommendations found in the literature about
helping them understand and apply best practices in online course creation and delivery assist
with the increase of success level for faculty and students.
Based on participants’ responses of their perception of the current professional
development the following should be considered as recommendations:
1. Provide faculty with engaging, hands on professional development to support the success
2. Provide faculty with step by step processes of activities and tools to be used in the online
3. Ensure that faculty have a clear understanding of online learning and provide training for
the faculty on the pedagogical strategies associated with online learning.
4. Review the process of online course development and engagement ensuring that
engagement is taking place in the courses.
Often faculty development models being provided are one size fits all models which
might not meet the needs of faculty members preparing to teach online or who are currently
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 28
teaching online (Rhode, Richter, & Miller, 2017). This research can assist with providing the
research institution with different ideas to develop programs or continue programs to support and
prepare their faculty for online learning. Respondents expressed their overall perceptions of
faculty professional development as well as expressed their perception of gaining knowledge by
attending institutional faculty professional development. As responders stated, “Well the
strengths are that it allows the instructor the ability to facilitate classes to the students to whom
they may not be able to attend college. The area of improvement is that we haven't had an online
training were computers were used.” This statement might assist the institution with ideas to
make adjustments to their trainings using computers as well as answers our research question on
the over perception of the faculty professional development for online faculty. While the
responds on knowledge gained can be verified, but also require some work, according to the
response, “Most of my professional development has been a waste of time. However, the
information on how to maneuver the platform (Blackboard-taken at another college), and create
my own content has helped a lot.”
Technology has forever changed the higher education landscape through enriched
learning environments; because of this, faculty need tools and resources to help successfully
facilitate learning in online educational environments (Facer, 2011). After analyzing and results
gotten from the researchers and participants in this study, it is evident that there is a need to
continue faculty professional development for online faculty. As one-third of all students in
higher education are now enrolled in at least one online class and about half of those students
complete all of their classes at a distance (Allen & Seaman, 2017), it is imperative that faculty
properly trained to teach students at a distance. Because the availability of technologies
continues to increase, so has the need for faculty development for using technology as a tool in
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 29
the online learning environment (Picciano, 2006). With this in mind, higher education
institutions need to prepare faculty throughout their teaching career for learning theory, technical
expertise, and pedagogical shifts before and as they teach in the online environment (Shelton,
Saltsman, Hostrom, & Pedersen, 2014). As one of the responders stated,
“Online faculty development is crucial especially for faculty that teach multiple courses
and do not have the flexibility to attend formal trainings. I believe there are several things that
can be done to improve such as develop new videos, survey faculty to assess their needs for
professional development, and alternate faculty development content. In order to do this, staffing
is needed in this area to help with providing these resources.”
This response verify our third research question “Do online faculty perceive that the
institution is providing adequate faculty development for online faculty?” as the research
institution needing to continue but improve the current faculty professional development.
Research states that conducting research to assess the needs of faculty is an essential first
step to develop an effective staff development plan (Engleberg, 1991). From analyzing this data
it can be said that this institution is taking a look into assessing the needs of the current online
faculty with regard to professional development.
Recommendation for Future Research
It is recommended that using the valuable and significant feedback from the study that
the study site make enhancements to develop further professional development programs and
explore the faculty’s opinions and perceptions after the enhancements. For example
implementing an Online Faculty Academy for Online Teaching, which will provide faculty with
professional development opportunities to effectively build the online campus.
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 30
It is also important that students’ opinions and perceptions be taken into consideration
when developing professional development for faculty. As Cavanagh (2012) stated there is no
doubt that there is an upward trend in the percentage of students choosing online and blended
learning. With that being stated more students will have the ability to provide their insight of
experiences with online courses and faculty. Such a study could explore student perceptions
regarding the overall online experience at the technical college as well as the delivery of online
courses. Students can also make specific recommendations about course design and faculty
training. Further research that examines student achievement of learning outcomes and the
effectiveness of online resources for online students at the technical college would also benefit
Faculty Perception of Professional Development for Online Teaching 31
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Interview Questions for Online Faculty Perceptions of Faculty Professional Development
1. Think about your most favorable experience with faculty professional development.
What made it so favorable?
2. In reflecting on the previous faculty professional development, how has the knowledge
you gained impacted your course design for the success of your students?
3. What made the previous faculty professional development successful?
4. As an online faculty member, reflect on how the institution’s faculty development
programs have impacted your career. How have the faculty development programs
affected your teaching?
5. Think about your least favorable experience with online faculty development. What
made it your least favorable?
6. In your opinion, what are some of the strengths of the institution’s online faculty
development? What can they do to improve?