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Role of the department chair in the delivery of distance learning programs

Avery Don Schwer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to investigate department chairs role in delivering distance learning courses and programs. A survey instrument was designed to gather data in demographics, decision-making reasons, and issues related to distance learning. Engineering and non-engineering department chairs from public universities were compared. Providing greater access for students and providing greater flexibility for students were selected by engineering and non-engineering chairs as the reasons most affecting their departments' decision to offer distance education courses and programs. ^ Student evaluations of the course, academic integrity of student work and measuring the effectiveness of the learning experience were the most important quality issues selected by department chairs. Institutional budget for distance education and cost of implementation were the most important financial issues. Departmental leadership, institutional acceptance, inclusion of distance education in institutional planning, and having a shared vision of distance education were identified as the most important direction setting issues. Faculty incentives, compensation, acceptance of distance education and workload issues were the most important faculty issues. Student-to-student interaction, faculty-to-student interaction, course and program services, and a sense of a learning community were identified as the most important student issues. Reliability of technology, appropriateness of technology and student access to technology were the most important technology issues. ^ There were six issues that had significant differences in the ranking of the issues between non-engineering and engineering chairs. The six issues were: (1) Measuring the effectiveness of the learning experience, (2) Course standards, (3) Copyright and fair use, (4) Pace of implementation, (5) Pedagogical shift from teaching to learning, and (6) Student access to technology. The pedagogical shift from teaching to learning was identified as the most important issue by the researcher. Learning issues should be the central focus of distance learning and higher education. By examining the issues and reasons associated with the delivery of distance education programs, department chairs might better understand the different challenges they may encounter along the evolutionary path of distance learning. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Technology of|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Schwer, Avery Don, "Role of the department chair in the delivery of distance learning programs" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3022664.