Skip to main content

The Impact of Faculty Attitudes Toward Technology, Distance Education, and Innovation

Abstract

Distance education plays an important role in broadening educational access and increasing higher educational opportunities. The success, however, for any distance education initiative relies on a critical and core resource, namely having participating faculty who provide quality instruction. This study uses survey design and diffusion of innovation theory to examine faculty participation in relation to their technology use, their attitudes toward technology and distance education, and their adoption of innovations at a public postsecondary 10-campus system. Ordinal regression analysis identified 20 significant variables (16 predictors representing the four latent dimensions of the conceptual model and four demographic characteristics) that explain faculty participation in distance education. The findings identify a number of core issues underlying faculty participation and non-participation in distance education which pose implications for policy and practice relevant to technology use and skills, training and development, course design and technical support, quality issues, and workload and compensation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Research examining response rates for paper- and web-based surveys have shown mixed results. While most studies show paper surveys generate a higher response (Carini et al. 2003; Hogarty et al. 2003; Layne et al. 1999), other studies indicate the opposite with web surveys garnering higher returns (Beebe et al. 2007; McCabe et al. 2006).

  2. 2.

    For the purpose of this analysis, Minority references: African-Americans, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and more than one ethnicity.

References

  1. Allen, J. P. (2000). Information systems as technological innovation. Information Technology & People, 13(3), 210–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Arnone, M. (2001, November 30). U. of Washington creates online high-school courses. The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. A32. Retrieved December 15, 2001, from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v48/i14/14a03201.htm.

  3. Baldwin, R. C. (1998). Technology’s impact on faculty life and work. In K. H. Gillespie (Ed.), The impact of technology on faculty development, life, and work: New directions for teaching and learning, 76 (pp. 7–21). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

  4. Beebe, T. J., Locke, G. R. III, Barnes, S. A., Davern, M. E., & Anderson, K. J. (2007). Mixing Web and mail methods in a survey of physicians. Health Research and Educational Trust, 42(3), 1219–1234.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Berge, Z. L., Muilenburg, L. Y., & Haneghan, J. V. (2002). Barriers to distance education and training: Survey results. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 3(4), 409–419.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Betts, K. S. (1998). An institutional overview: Factors influencing faculty participation in distance education in postsecondary education in the United States: An institutional study. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 1(3). Retrieved January 8, 2000, from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/betts13.html.

  7. Black, E. J. (1992). Faculty support for university distance education. Journal of Distance Education, 7(2). Retrieved January 23, 1999, from http://cade.athabascau.ca/vol7.2/07_black_125.html.

  8. Bower, B. L. (2002). Instructional issues. In L. Foster, B. L. Bower, & L. W. Watson (Eds.), ASHE reader distance education: Teaching and learning in higher education (pp. 211–213). Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bradburn, E. M. (2002). Distance education instruction by postsecondary faculty and staff: Fall 1998 (Report No. NCES 2002-155). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

  10. Brancheau, J. C., & Wetherbe, J. C. (1990). The adoption of spreadsheet software: Testing innovation diffusion theory in the context of end-user computing. Information Systems Research, 1(2), 115–143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Carini, R. M., Hayek, J. C., Kuh, G. D., Kennedy, J. M., & Ouimet, J. A. (2003). College student responses to web and paper surveys: Does mode matter? Review in Higher Education, 44(1), 1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Chizmar, J., & Williams, D. B. (2001). What do faculty want? Educause Quarterly, 24, 18–24.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Clark, T. (1993). Attitudes of higher education faculty toward distance education: A national survey. The American Journal of Distance Education, 7(2), 19–33.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Council for Higher Education Accreditation. (2002). Accreditation and assuring quality in distance education (CHEA Monograph Series 2002, Number 2). Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Retrieved November 20, 2002, from http://www.chea.org/Research/index.asp#qualityassurance.

  15. Davis, F. D. (1989). Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly, 13(3), 318–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Dillon, C. L., & Walsh, S. M. (1992). Faculty: The neglected resource in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 6(3), 5–21.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Dooley, K. E., & Murphrey, T. P. (2000). How the perspectives of administrators, faculty, and support units impact the rate of distance education adoption. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 3(4). Retrieved June 4, 2001, from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/winter34/dooley34.html.

  18. Duderstadt, J. J. (1999). Can colleges and universities survive in the information age? In R. N. Katz & Associates (Eds.), Dancing with the devil: Information technology and the new competition in higher education (pp. 1–25). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

  19. Duderstadt, J. J. (1999–2000, Winter). New roles for the 21st-century university. Issues in Science and Technology, 16(2), 37–44.

  20. Duderstadt, J. J., Atkins, D. E., & Houweling, D. V. (2002). Higher education in the digital age: Technology issues and strategies for American colleges and universities. Westport, CT: American Council on Education and Praeger Publishers.

  21. Ellis, E. M. (2000). Faculty participation in the Pennsylvania State University World Campus: Identifying barriers to success. Open Learning, 15(3), 233–242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Epper, R. M., & Bates, A. W. (Eds.). (2001). Teaching faculty how to use technology: Best practices from leading institutions. Westport, CT: The American Council on Education and The Oryx Press.

  23. Farinella, J. A., Hobbs, B. K., & Weeks, H. S. (2000). Distance delivery: The faculty perspective. Finance Practice & Education, 10(1), 184–195.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Fidler, L. A., & Johnson, J. D. (1984). Communication and innovation implementation. Academy of Management Review, 9(4), 704–711.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Freberg, L., Floyd, B., & Mar, K. (1992). Faculty attitudes toward distance learning. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 6(2), 145–159.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Gumport, P. J., & Chun, M. (1999). Technology and higher education: Opportunities and challenges for the new era. In P. G. Altbach, R. O. Berdahl, & P. J. Gumport (Eds.), American education in the 21st century (pp. 370–395). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Hayes, M. H., & Jamrozik, M. L. (2001). Internet distance learning: The problems, the pitfalls, and the future. Journal of VLSI Signal Processing, 29(1/2), 63–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Henry, P. D. (2002). Scholarly use of the Internet by faculty members: Factors and outcomes of change. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 35(1), 49–57.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Hogarty, K. Y., Lang, T. R., & Kromrey, J. D. (2003). Another look at technology use in classrooms: The development and validation of an instrument to measure teachers' perceptions. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 63(1), 139–162.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Inman, E., & Mayes, L. (1998). Educational technology: A survey of faculty use and need. Journal of Staff Program and Organization Development, 16(1), 15–20.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Jones, A. E., & Moller, L. (2002–2003). A comparison of continuing education and resident faculty attitudes toward using distance education in a higher education institution in Pennsylvania. College & University Media Review, 9(1), 11–37.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Jurison, J. (2000). Perceived value and technology adoption across four user groups. Journal of End-User Computing, 12(4), 21–28.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Kagima, L. K., & Hausafus, C. O. (2000). Integration of electronic communication in higher education: Contributions of faculty computer self-efficacy. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(4), 221–235.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Kankanhalli, A., Tan, B. C. Y., & Wei, K.-K. (2005). Contributing knowledge to electronic knowledge repositories: An empirical investigation. MIS Quarterly, 29(1), 113–143.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Karahanna, E., Straub, D. W., & Chervany, N. L. (1999). Information technology adoption across time: A cross-sectional comparison of pre-adoption and post-adoption beliefs. MIS Quarterly, 23(2), 183–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Katz, R. N. (1999). Competitive strategies for higher education in the information age. In R. N. Katz & Associates (Eds.), Dancing with the devil: Information technology and the new competition in higher education (pp. 27–49). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

  37. Layne, B. H., Decristoforo, J. R., & McGinty, D. (1999). Electronic versus traditional student ratings of instruction. Research in Higher Education, 40(2), 221–232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Lee, J. (2001). Instructional support for distance education and faculty motivation, commitment, satisfaction. British Journal of Educational Technology, 32(2), 153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Lee, J. A., & Busch, P. E. (2005). Factors related to instructors' willingness to participate in distance education. Journal of Educational Research, 99(2), 109–115.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Lewis, L., Snow, K., Farris, E., Levin, D., & Greene, B. (1999). Distance education at postsecondary education institutions: 1997–98 (Report No. NCES 2000-013). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

  41. McCabe, S. E., Diez, A., Boyd, C. J., Nelson, T. F., & Weitzman, E. R. (2006). Comparing web and mail responses in a mixed mode survey in college alcohol use research. Addictive Behaviors, 31(9), 1619–1627.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Mitra, A., Hazen, M. D., LaFrance, B., & Rogan, R. G. (1999). Faculty use and non-use of electronic mail: Attitudes, expectations and profiles. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 4(3). Retrieved December 2, 2001, from http://www.ascusc.org/jcmc/vol4/issue3/mitra.html.

  43. Moore, G. C., & Benbasat, I. (1991). Developing an instrument to measure the perceptions of adopting the information technology innovation. Information Systems Research, 2(3), 192–222.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Muilenburg, L., & Berge, Z. L. (2001). Barriers to distance education: A factor-analytic study. The American Journal of Distance Education, 15(2), 7–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Mustonen-Ollila, E., & Lyytinen, K. (2003). Why organizations adopt information system process innovations: A longitudinal study using diffusion of innovation theory. Info Systems Journal, 13, 275–297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. National Education Association. (1998). A survey of higher education members and leaders. Update, 4(5). Retrieved January 5, 2000, from http://www2.nea.org/he/heupdate.

  47. National Education Association. (2000). A survey of traditional and distance learning higher education members. Washington, D.C.: Author. Retrieved January 15, 2001, from http://www.nea.org/he/abouthe/dlstudy.pdf.

  48. Olcott, D., Jr., & Wright, S. J. (1995). An institutional support framework for increasing faculty participation in postsecondary distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 9(3), 5–17.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Parisot, A. H. (1997). Distance education as a catalyst for changing teaching in the community college: Implications for institutional policy. In C. L. Dillon & R. Cintron (Eds.), Building a working policy for distance education: New directions for community colleges, 99 (pp. 5–13). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.

  50. Rockwell, S. K., Schauer, J., Fritz, S. M., & Marx, D. B. (1999). Incentives and obstacles influencing higher education faculty and administrators to teach via distance. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 2(3). Retrieved January 5, 2000, from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/rockwell24.html.

  51. Rockwell, K., Schauer, J., Fritz, S. M., & Marx, D. B. (2000). Faculty education, assistance and support needed to deliver education via distance. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 3(2). Retrieved January 6, 2001, from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/rockwell32.html.

  52. Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations. New York, NY: The Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Schifter, C. (2002). Perception differences about participating in distance education. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 5(1). Retrieved August 25, 2002, from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring51/schifter51.html.

  54. Schuster, J. H., & Finkelstein, M. J. (2006). The academic faculty: The restructuring of academic work and careers. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Schwitzer, A. M., Ancis, J. R., & Brown, N. (2001). Promoting student learning and student development at a distance. Lanham, MD: United Press of America.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Spotts, T. H., & Bowman, M. A. (1995). Faculty use of instructional technologies in higher education. Educational Technology, 35(2), 55–64.

    Google Scholar 

  57. SPSS Inc. (2004). SPSS 13.0 base user's guide. Chicago, IL: Author.

  58. Taylor, J. C., & White, V. J. (1991). Faculty attitudes toward teaching in the distance education mode: An exploratory investigation. Research in Distance Education, 3(3), 7–11.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Tornatzky, L. G., & Klein, K. J. (1982). Innovation characteristics and innovation adoption-implementation: A meta-analysis of findings. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, EM, 29(1), 28–45.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Waits, T., Lewis, L., & Greene, B. (2003). Distance education at degree-granting postsecondary institutions: 2000–2001 (Report No. NCES 2003-017). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

  61. Warburton, E. C., Chen, X., Bradburn, E. M., & Zimbler, L. J. (2002). Teaching with technology: Use of telecommunications technology by postsecondary instructional faculty and staff in fall 1998 (Report No. NCES 2002-161). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

  62. Weenig, M. W. H. (1999). Communication networks in the diffusion of an innovation in an organization. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29(5), 1072–1092.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Wilson, J. M. (2001). The technological revolution: Reflections on the proper role of technology in higher education. In P. G. Altbach, P. J. Gumport, & D. B. Johnstone (Eds.), In defense of American higher education (pp. 202–226). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Wood, E., Willoughby, T., Specht, J., & Porter, L. (2002). An examination of how a cross-section of academics use computer technology when writing academic papers. Computers & Education, 38, 287–301.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgement

The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Ronald H. Heck, professor, Department of Educational Administration, College of Education, for his assistance with the data analysis.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lynn N. Tabata.

Additional information

An earlier version of this study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association Chicago, Illinois, April 2007.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Tabata, L.N., Johnsrud, L.K. The Impact of Faculty Attitudes Toward Technology, Distance Education, and Innovation. Res High Educ 49, 625 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-008-9094-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Faculty
  • Distance education
  • Technology use
  • Ordinal regression
  • Diffusion of innovation theory
  • Institutional policy