The “Mainstreaming” of Online Teaching and Conflicted Faculty Perceptions

The “Mainstreaming” of Online Teaching and Conflicted Faculty Perceptions

Pamela Medina, Nidhi Vij, Anna Ni, Jing Zhang, Yunfei Hou, Miranda May McIntyre
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJAET.313435
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The COVID-19 pandemic heavily accelerated the adoption of online education. Technology adoption literature indicates that individuals are motivated to adopt technology as a result of various factors including social influence, performance expectations, effort expectations, and the conditions that facilitate their use. These factors are mediated by the degree of voluntariness of technology adoption and risks and rewards associated with adopting online learning. Given the pandemic experience, faculty members were forced to adopt online teaching, removing the voluntary nature of technology adoption. This study surveys a national sample of faculty to understand faculty perceptions of online teaching and reports on perceived changes in perceptions resulting from the pandemic and future intentions to teach online. In contrast to prior literature, findings indicate that faculty tend to have positive perceptions of knowledge outcomes associated with online teaching, and although there are areas for improvement, most faculty members intend to teach online again post-pandemic.
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While institutions of higher education have experienced steady growth in online learning over time (Seaman, Allen, Seaman, 2018; Inside, 2020), the COVID-19 pandemic drastically increased adoption of online education. In the Spring of 2020, a majority of institutions shifted to complete remote learning, with faculty often quickly adjusting to online learning systems and methods. With this shift, faculty who had previously expressed significant concern and hesitation with adoption of online learning (Green, Alejandro, Brown, 2009; Hunt et al., 2014; Bailey, 2016) were essentially forced to adopt these systems, resulting in a fundamental shift in the operations of institutions of higher education, and a unique opportunity to examine online learning.

Numerous studies have explored the impact of the pandemic on teaching. For instance, several studies highlight innovations required to teach students in fields which typically involved hands-on-learning, such as surgical education, teacher education, and nursing (Scull et al., 2020; Schmitz et al., 2021). Others emphasize challenges in academic integrity and ethics with online learning that arose during the pandemic (Burns, 2020; White, 2021). Many also present strategies for incorporating high impact practices, such as service learning and group work in online settings (Ahmet et al., 2021; Qasem et al., 2022). While many of these studies note some practical suggestions for post-pandemic learning, questions remain regarding the impact of the pandemic experience on overall faculty perceptions of online learning, as well as how the experience may affect long term adoption plans once the emergency necessity for online learning diminishes.

With the initial crisis response now subsiding, administrators, students and faculty are reacclimating to the new university environment. Administrators are tasked with making decisions about course offerings, and faculty must also consider pedagogical shifts and changes that may be required given the impact of the pandemic. This study contributes to this dialogue by exploring faculty perceptions of online learning, including perceived pressures and student expectations, and new perceptions of strengths and weaknesses of online learning. Using the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model, we aim to understand whether faculty are more or less likely to adopt online learning post-pandemic, and how faculty perceptions of online learning may have changed as a result of the pandemic.

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