Teachers' perceptions of the application of instructional design elements in the distance teaching process
KeywordsUniversity of Northern Iowa--Faculty; Distance education--Iowa--Cedar Falls; Instructional systems--Design
Online and Distance Education
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AbstractEducators use an instructional design process to improve instruction and to ensure learning. Faculty who teach at a distance must rely heavily on the instructional design process because of constraints in distance instruction. Thus, it is especially important for instructors to know, understand, and apply instructional design elements when planning to teaching at a distance. However, little research has been done in this field. Therefore, additional research has become the focus of this study. This study examines the perceptions of instructors at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), Cedar Falls, Iowa, regarding how they understood and applied instructional design elements in the distance teaching process. A descriptive study approach was used with a mailed self-reporting questionnaire as the data collection instrument. A focus group of six distance educators pretested the questionnaire in April 2002. The study sample was instructors at UNI who had been involved in distance teaching using the Internet and interactive television (ITV). A convenience and unstratified sampling method was used to determine the participants. The questionnaire was designed to elicit responses concerning: (a) to what extent the instructors would report implementation of the elements of instructional design, (b) to what extent the instructors had taken advantage of opportunities provided by UNI (or elsewhere) to learn about distance teaching, and (c) what information would be gained that could promote better instruction at a distance at UNI. A combination of different kinds of scales were used in this study. Open-ended questions were also used to answer the questions in the questionnaire. The quantitative data were analyzed using statistical analysis procedures with the statistical package SPSS for Windows. A coding system was used to analyze the qualitative data. Chi-square tests were run on several demographic factors to determine if they significantly predicted results related to training for instructors using the Iowa Communication Network (ICN) and WebCT for distance learning, and training to help instructors design instruction using distance learning technologies. Results showed that generally most instructors at UNI could understand and apply the identified instructional design elements when they taught at a distance. The information from this study provides an understanding of how applying instructional design elements affects the instruction in distance education courses. The data acquired can provide administrators, instructional designers, and instructors in distance education with vital decision-making information for instructional design. Distance education program planners and educators can use this knowledge to improve the quality of distance teaching by making necessary resources and services available to them.