Factors affecting faculty use of technology-enhanced instruction at research universities

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Thomas, Carolyn Dianna

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In traditional models of university education, students gather in classrooms, listen to instructors lecture on specific topics, and take notes with limited time for interaction. Students are then expected to spend additional time outside of the classroom reading textbooks, completing assignments, and preparing for tests. Instructors are viewed as experts providing information to students in much the same manner that they learned the content as students in college. The advent of the World Wide Web in 1991 allowed a dramatic change in the way students and faculty gather information, conduct research, and publish ideas. Internet-based technologies can transform traditional classroom experiences. Student participation can be increased by promoting group and collaborative learning online, and by the use of tools such as e-mail, discussion boards, and synchronous chat sessions. The objectives of this study were to 1) determine which factors affected faculty members’ use of technology integration in their instruction, and 2) determine what effect the integration of technology had on the role and teaching styles of faculty members.
The study employed a mixed-methods research methodology. A survey instrument was developed and sent to faculty members at the five largest, public research institutions. The level of technology integration was calculated on a scale ranging from nonuse to full integration. The scale included practices such as providing online discussion areas, allowing/requiring students to use the Internet for assignments, and using anonymous online surveys to gather student feedback. Faculty members were then asked to elaborate on their answers.
After the quantitative and qualitative survey results were analyzed, a select group of faculty members at one campus were interviewed to verify or dispute the findings. The survey results revealed the factors that significantly contributed to the overall level of technology integration were: instructional resources, professional and personal computer use, level of class, gender, title, and type of online teaching experience. One of the most significant factors was the level of instructional resources. Instructors with a facilitative teaching style were most likely to integrate technology into their instruction. This information can inform institutions when creating faculty development programs and budgeting limited resources.



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