Designing online interaction to address disciplinary competencies: A cross-country comparison of faculty perspectives
KeywordsDistance education, Quality learning, online interaction, Competencies for Online Teaching, higher education
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AbstractThis study was conducted at colleges in three countries (United States, Venezuela, and Spain) and across three academic disciplines (engineering, education, and business), to examine how experienced faculty define competencies for their discipline, and design instructional interaction for online courses. A qualitative research design employing in-depth interviews was selected. Results show that disciplinary knowledge takes precedence when faculty members select competencies to be developed in online courses for their respective professions. In all three disciplines, the design of interaction to correspond with disciplinary competencies was often influenced by contextual factors that modify faculty intention. Therefore, instructional design will vary across countries in the same discipline to address the local context, such as the needs and expectations of the learners, faculty perspectives, beliefs and values, and the needs of the institution, the community, and country. The three disciplines from the three countries agreed on the importance of the following competencies: knowledge of the field, higher order cognitive processes such as critical thinking, analysis, problem solving, transfer of knowledge, oral and written communication skills, team work, decision making, leadership and management skills, indicating far more similarities in competencies than differences between the three different applied disciplines. We found a lack of correspondence between faculty¿s intent to develop collaborative learning skills and the actual development of them. Contextual factors such as faculty prior experience in design, student reluctance to engage in collaborative learning, and institutional assessment systems that focus on individual performance were some of these reasons.