Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Instructor Learning Styles as Indicators of Online Faculty Satisfaction

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Instructor Learning Styles as Indicators of Online Faculty Satisfaction

Article excerpt


Prior to teaching online, many instructors predict future dissatisfaction with the online classroom. These predictions are usually based on perceptions of technical skills, personality type, unfamiliarity, etc. Further, many instructors have not or could never picture themselves enjoying or taking an online class as a student. Like students, they may say, "I just don't learn that way." However, these are merely perceptions of potential dissatisfaction.

All of these could indeed be indicators of online faculty satisfaction. However, this discussion has been based on perceived levels of future satisfaction in the online classroom. A more valid and worthwhile discussion would contain actual levels of satisfaction in the online environment following the actual teaching experience. Once the levels are known, comparing them to instructor learning styles would provide deep insight to understanding online faculty satisfaction.

Faculty retention is an issue with which many institutions are concerned. Certainly, job satisfaction contributes to a faculty member's intent to leave (Rosser & Townsend, 2006). However, with deeper implications, faculty job satisfaction contributes to the quality of work performed (Katzell, Thompson, & Guzzo, 1992). The quality of work performed by the faculty at an institution affects numerous areas. Perhaps the most important stakeholders affected by high faculty performance are the students. The lifeline of any institution is its students; therefore, retaining those who enroll, thus reducing attrition, is one of the most important tasks in maintaining institutional effectiveness.

John Bean (2005) identified one of the nine themes of college student retention as academics. Within this discussion is Bean's understanding that faculty members are the ones who deliver the institution's product. He stated that, "A faculty member presents substantive material in a course in a way that promotes or does not promote students to be socialized to academic values and choose a particular major" (Bean, p. 225). For Bean, the quality of the interaction between the student and the faculty member directly contributes to his or her affinity towards the institution. Braxton and Hirschy (2005) also understand the relationship between quality faculty work and student persistence. Based on the work of Vincent Tinto, they suggested that faculty members who involve students in the learning process by engaging them in critical thinking about content contribute to persistence and retention. Engaging students in their academic experience is not only a model of quality teaching, but it is also of extreme importance in commuter campuses such as community colleges. Higher levels of academic involvement leads to higher levels of institutional commitment; institutional commitment in turn leads to persistence (Braxton, & Lien, 2000).

Research on online instructor satisfaction is extremely limited in the field of higher education. Additionally, little to no research has been completed on individual online instructor learning styles. Most of the research on online instruction has studied the student learner; these studies usually list individual instructor personality, ability, and style as delimitations. To avoid these delimitations, other studies attempt to hold the instructor variable constant; however, this method results in an extremely small sample size, resulting in less significant results. Because this study focused on areas virtually unstudied and undiscovered, the results are extremely helpful. This study should open new avenues for online education research, shifting some of the focus away from the student to the online instructor's readiness.

The findings of this study offer implications in a number of areas. First, the results provide academic departments insight on who to best choose for online course development and teaching. Next, the findings offer suggestions for online faculty training and professional development personnel. …

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