The Perceptions and Experiences of Faculty Teaching a Mix of Traditional and Nontraditional Students in Online Classes
Author(s)Trombley, Christina Marie
Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching
Educational Administration and Supervision
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AbstractThe purpose of this interpretive qualitative research study was to explore how faculty perceived and experienced teaching multigenerational (having traditional and nontraditional students) online classes. The online classes researched served only undergraduate students and had at least thirty percent of traditional students in the class. Ten tenured faculty were drawn from a four-year institution of higher education in the Midwest of the United States. Data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews. Findings revealed that research participants relied on their own personal experiences as students to inform their teaching and morph the definition of teaching as it relates to online education from their face-to-face teaching experiences. The difference between preparation and teaching becomes blended in the online format. In addition, online teaching is viewed as secondary to face-to-face instruction, especially in their interactions with colleagues. Finally, and most surprisingly, participants experience a disconnection with their online students because of how they view their own presence within the online classroom. How faculty perceive their role as teachers focuses on relationships, identity, motivation, and access. Conclusions from these findings and how they relate to the literature is discussed. Practical implications of the research are provided for administration, faculty, and students. Suggestions for additional academic research is also offered.