Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dissertation Prospectus

My Dissertation Prospectus (see below) was approved by my faculty mentor yesterday and I submitted it to the three faculty members I have requested serve on my dissertation committee. Two have already responded in the affirmative. Now I have to get busy and finish writing Chapters 1-3 by September 10. I've got Chapters 1 & 2 pretty much done, but I need to work on finalizing elements for Chapter 3--Methodology.
Dissertation Title: Faculty Perceptions and Attitudes Toward the Use of Course Management Systems in Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Georgia
Statement of Your Research Problem or Area of Inquiry:
Course Management Systems (CMS) provide an integrated approach to developing courses and teaching using web-based technologies. The integration of CMS in higher education has become an important issue recently (Eighth Annual EDUCAUSE Current Issues Survey, 2007). Buzzetto-More and Sweat-Guy (2006) found that while HBCU students came to college less technologically prepared, the use of e-learning is slowly rising in popularity with student perceptions of online learning viewed positively. Although many HBCUs have CMS, online learning has not been a priority for many faculty. It is important to study faculty perceptions because faculty attitudes about the use of instructional technology influence its successful adoption and implementation.
Theory/Theories or Conceptual Framework(s) Related to the Problem or Area of Inquiry:
Rogers’s Diffusion of Innovation Model suggests that researchers simultaneously examine characteristics of the individual adopter, the institutional setting, and the technology itself—steps that have not been taken in research on faculty adoption of online teaching in higher education. In addition, examining the adoption of online teaching as a process, rather than an event is pertinent to theories such as Hall and Hord’s Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM) in order to facilitate change in education. These models provide the framework for identifying the most commonly expressed concerns stated by faculty regarding their motivations to participate in online teaching and learning.
Current Research Related to the Problem or Area of Inquiry:
Research on motivations and barriers for faculty adoption of online learning has been extensive (Betts; 1998; O'Quinn & Corry, 2002; Schifter, 2000, Shea, 2007). Even in cases where institutional support is high, Hutchins (2001) and Johnson and Howell (2005) found that faculty attitudes may be hard to change to meet new technological demands. Although online opportunities continue to increase (Butler & Sellbom, 2007), Arnone (2002) found it to be less prevalent and a “hard sell” at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Studies about CMS adoption are limited but suggest that CMS may positively influence adoption of online learning by faculty (Black, Beck, Dawson, Jins, & Di Pietro, 2007).
Goals, Purpose and Potential Significance of Your Research:
The purpose of the study will be to describe faculty attitudes toward and their use of a course management system (CMS) as part of their teaching practices. Specifically, the study will assess faculty perceptions with regard to the software and its pedagogical advantages. This study helps fill a gap in the educational technology literature concerning faculty attitudes and perceptions regarding the use of CMS in higher education. Finally, the study addresses a specific gap in the literature regarding the adoption of online learning and CMS in historically black colleges and universities. Findings from this study can be used by faculty development professionals to encourage faculty adoption and implementation of course management systems.
Your Research Design and Methodology:
Type of Inquiry: Mixed Methods (Quantitative and Qualitative)
Method of Inquiry:
The survey instrument is based on the University of Wisconsin Course Management Survey (2002) and University System of Georgia: Faculty Course Management Systems Survey (2005). After completing the survey, respondents will have the option of volunteering to participate in a synchronous virtual focus group discussion or an individualized asynchronous online interview.
Your Research Population and How You Will Draw Upon This Population for Your Research Inquiry:
The seven institutions chosen represent public and private, 4-year liberal arts HBCUs in the state of Georgia. The public institutions (Albany State, Fort Valley State, Savannah State) are members of the University System of Georgia, which has recently undergone a conversion to WebCT Vista in all its colleges and universities. The private institutions (Clark Atlanta, Morehouse University, Paine College, Spelman College) utilize either Blackboard or WebCT course management systems. Academic Affairs Officers will be contacted for permission to contact faculty members. Initial contact with faculty will be conducted by e-mail. E-mail addresses can be obtained from online faculty directory listings or via secretarial staff in each department or through the Academic Affairs offices. Each faculty member will receive up to five contacts: a pre-notice, an e-mail with the link to the web-based survey, two reminder e-mails with the link to the survey, and a thank you e-mail. Arrangements for the follow-up interviews or focus group discussions will also be conducted via e-mail.
Examples of Research Data That May Be Collected:
Quantitative data--ordinal, nominal, interval, ratio: demographic data, factors influencing use of CMS, CMS usage data, features used, faculty familiarity with CMS
Qualitative data from focus group discussions and online interviews coded by researcher: expand on data collected in survey: functional and pedagogical uses of CMS, what value in CMS, what find less useful, effects on teaching practices, wish list of features, concerns, motivations.
Other Information About Your Dissertation Proposal:
Research Questions
1. What factors motivate faculty members to use a course management system?
2. What factors hinder faculty from using a course management system?
3. What factors determine whether faculty increase or decrease their use?
4. What is the extent of faculty use of the CMS on each campus and in aggregate?
5. For what purposes is the CMS used?
6. What CMS tools do faculty members use, and how do they use them?
7. What differences are demonstrated in CMS uses in varying delivery methods (traditional/in-class, hybrid/blended and solely online courses)?

1 comment:

  1. Truly an impressive thesis proposal that will provide you with plenty of hours of data collection, analysis, and conclusions regarding your incisive questions.

    The topic couldn't be more pertinent to learning in the digital age, and knowing you as I do, you are more than qualified for this complicated, detailed, and ever-so-important research task. I'll be keeping a watchful eye this fall as I progress in a technology class for school media specialists through distance ed (Blackboard CMS) this fall.

    Keep up the great work Gayla!


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