The Rhetoric of Fear: Voices and Stories Told of Faculty Who Engage in Online Teaching

The Rhetoric of Fear: Voices and Stories Told of Faculty Who Engage in Online Teaching

Terry T. Kidd (University of Houston – Downtown, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2399-4.ch007
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Amongst the glamour and allure to teach online, the literature indicates faculty often see and experience teaching online as daunting, painful, and time consuming. While, many studies seek to detail faculty experiences with course and program design, few studies seek to understand the faculty emotional reaction and their response to online course development and online course teaching. Using phenomenology this preliminary research study sought to explore and document faculty involvement in online teaching using theories of experience, postulated by Dewey (1938) and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology, by Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, and Davis (2003) to analyze and give voice to the emotional experience and reaction of faculty who are involved in online teaching.
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Review Of The Literature

In more recent years faculty have been expected to participate in online learning as a part of their regular duties as faculty (Appana, 2008). Despite this expectation, faculty have still been hesitant to convert their traditional courses to an online format (Fish & Gill, 2009). These authors found that faculty felt uncertain and uneasy towards online learning due to perceived assumptions regarding the quality of learning and student learning outcomes. This uncertainty stemmed from assumption concerning the nature of learning and mode of learning (Appana, 2008), subscribing to myths and misconceptions of online learning (Li & Atkins, 2005), lack of competency in technology and online learning methods (McGuire, 2005) and institutional incongruence with relation to faculty, attitudes, beliefs, and practices (Mitchell & Geva-May, 2009; Simpson, 2010). Further, Saba (2005) revealed that faculty who teach online are oftentimes unsure how to teach online, due to a lack of skills sets and experience in online environment. This ultimately leads faculty to experience anxiety and negative feelings towards online teaching.

As faculty engage in online teaching, the pathway of course migration to online environments often begins with the assumption that instructional designs, grading procedures, and other methods that typically work in the traditional classroom would remain the same in online settings. When faculty come to terms with the reality that these two environments are entirely different, they suddenly become frustrated (Bruner, 2007; Conceicao, 2006) and realize the need for professional development activities and support programs that will help them teach successfully online. Instructors face the challenge of the preponderance of online courses, a distinct set of online student needs (e.g., independent learning, unlimited access to course content) and the need to promote interaction in online learning (Conceicao, 2006). This placed a burden on experienced instructors who have taught exclusively in face-to-face settings.

The acceptance of online learning within universities and individual curricula has challenged previously established teaching methods and faculty responsibilities (Dabbagh, 2004). The transition to online teaching for experienced faculty is not easy and has been labeled as “daunting”, “painful” and “stressful” (Grosse 2004). In addition, there is considerable evidence that teaching online requires additional extensive preparation time (Lorenzetti, 2006) and this preparation time was found to add additional stress on faculty (Lorenzetti, 2006). Further, Grosse (2004) found that veteran face-to-face instructors had to revise their teaching methods. This was found to cause a sense of uncertainty and frustration for veteran faculty (Grosse, 2004).

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