Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Assessment of the Online Instructor

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Assessment of the Online Instructor

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

In addition to measuring the efficacy of educating by the examination of student assessment, we will argue that the process of educating online itself needs to be monitored. We believe that peer oversight is necessary to maintain standards established by the institution, and that these standards need to be rigorously and continuously enforced. We offer a proposed rubric with which we believe standards in online educating can be maintained, and hope in the future to have measurable results.

INTRODUCTION

Online instruction has become a necessity for smaller institutions to grow and maintain a broader student base (Topper, 2007). In addition to fully-online courses, many schools offer hybrid options which augment the traditional classroom experience, mostly in a truncated and/or accelerated format, with an online component created to make up the deficit in contact hours and to enhance learning. Giving students a greater amount of flexibility with both scheduling and time management, online learning and hybrid learning has allowed smaller institutions to develop a unique student population that has been underserviced in the past.

Kirtman (2009) and others have shown results indicating that learning goals have been accomplished as successful whether instruction occurred in-class or online. Although online enhancements have given students measurable benefits, many students face certain challenges effectively employing online learning (Vigentini, 2009). Extraneous from financial and practical considerations, many students find online learning arduous (Topper, 2007). A certain student type may desire or require interaction with professor and peers for effective learning. Students may feel certain types of courses, particularly quantitative subjects, require active, face-to-face instruction, so that a real-time, interactive flow of information can occur.

Faculty members benefit from online instruction as well. Like their students, faculty members enjoy more flexibility in managing their time, an appreciated benefit as the role of faculty evolves in its service to administration as well as to the student body. The online format may provide less academic flexibility, but may allow faculty an enhanced ability to adhere to schedules and to learning objectives (Combs, et al., 2008). However, online learning has also provided faculty with different challenges (Lindsay, et al., 2009). Faculty members are charged with utilizing new and largely untested technology to teach otherwise familiar material, and the difficulties of removing the personal interaction partially or entirely from the process has rendered certain learning objectives particularly difficult to achieve. In general faculty satisfaction levels seem dependent on institutional support. Bollinger and Wasilik (2009) have stated that faculty satisfaction is generally high when the institution values online teaching and has established policies that benefit the faculty, such as additional release time for online course development.

Coincident with online instruction are distinctive challenges for assessing student development and learning. With traditional classroom instruction time reduced or nonexistent, unbiased evaluation should more readily occur, as the bias present in the classroom experience (the "mutual back patting" referred to by Pounder (2008), which results in student rewarding the instructor with a high teacher rating as a way to repay good grades or other positive interactions) should be significantly decreased or removed entirely. However, challenges exist for proper and fair measurement of student achievement. The assessment of student learning is an ongoing challenge, regardless of the venue, and this field will continue to develop over time.

THE MARKET FOR ONLINE EDUCATION

Online education is becoming more prevalent. According to the 2008 Sloan Consortium report, over twenty percent of all US higher education students were taking at least one online course in the fall of 2007. …

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