Academic journal article Community College Review

A Comparison of Access to the Internet and Use of the Web for Instruction: A National Study of Full-Time and Part-Time Community College Faculty

Academic journal article Community College Review

A Comparison of Access to the Internet and Use of the Web for Instruction: A National Study of Full-Time and Part-Time Community College Faculty

Article excerpt

This research explored the issues of access to the internet and use of the web for instructional purposes between full-time and part-time community college faculty. The findings that 40% of part-time faculty do not have Internet access at work would seem to indicate that part-time faculty are poorly integrated into the technology infrastructure of institutions.

Introduction

The increased use of part-time faculty in community colleges has generated considerable debate and discussion. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES, 1997a) estimated that, in 1988, 52% of all community college faculty were part time. In 1993 that number increased to 64% (NCES, 2001a). Furthermore, between 1991 and 1992, 37% of all postsecondary faculty who left their institution did so because of retirement. Specifically at community colleges during that period, 50% of exiting faculty had retired (NCES, 1997b). The increased rate of retirement at two-year colleges creates a situation where future percentages of part-time faculty may be even higher, depending in large part on the policies that community colleges adopt in the future.

In addition to an increase in the use of part-time faculty, community colleges also have the greatest number of enrollments in distance education courses with 48% (1,472,000 students), while public four-year institution enroll 31% (NCES, 2003). Nine percent of all students at community colleges participate in distance education; of the community college students participating in distance education, approximately 60% are taking internet-based courses (NCES, 2002a). It is projected that the number of students taking on-line courses will reach 2.2 million by 2004 (Green, 2000; Moe, 2002). Projections indicate that by the year 2025, forty-five million people worldwide could be learning through online higher education opportunities (Moe, 2002). These data support the notion that a greater percentage of community college faculty are involved in distance education, particularly on-line education, than faculty at four-year institutions (NCES, 2002b). While the data are not available, it may be assumed that even more faculty use Web sites to provide some type of course information to enhance traditional courses, even though the course may not be an actual distance education course. It is important that the large cadre of part-time community college faculty have the same access to the Internet and opportunity to develop web-enhanced courses as do their full-time counterparts. It is also important to determine if part-time faculty are as engaged in the use of computer technology for instruction as are full-time faculty.

The purpose of this study is to compare access to the Internet and use of the web for instructional purposes between full-time and part-time community college faculty using data from the National Study of Post Secondary Faculty (NCES, 2002a). The specific research questions for this study are the following:

1. Is there a relationship between the availability of Internet access and faculty status (full time or part time)?

2. Is there a relationship between the use of Web sites to provide instructional information and faculty status?

3. Do the two faculty groups vary in their use of Web sites to provide instructional information by discipline area?

4. Is there a relationship between how Web sites are used and faculty status?

5. Is there a relationship between use of e-mail to communicate with students and faculty status?

Methods

Sample and Data

Data for this study are from the 1999 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:99), a survey project funded by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES, 2001b). The data are collected every 5 years, and NSOPF:99 is the most current version of the data at the time of publication. A two-stage stratified clustered probability design was used to select the sample for NSOPF:99. …

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