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Implementing distance education, the impact of institutional characteristics: A view from the department chair's chair

Edward R. Kinley, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to examine quantitative and qualitative data about department chair perceptions of: (1) the reasons for implementing distance education, (2) the issues impacting the implementation of distance education, (3) the leadership strategies/approaches used to guide distance education implementation, and (4) the impact of institutional characteristics on the reasons, issues, and leadership strategies. These data contributed to an evolving understanding of the role of the department chair and the implementation of distance education courses and programs. The first section of the research addressed the “reasons for implementation” and the “issues impacting implementation.” The second section explored department chair leadership strategies and approaches. The analyses of the data revealed the following findings (N = 263). Department chairs indicated that “desire to provide students with greater access” (89.6 percent) and “desire to provide students with greater flexibility” (81.5 percent) were the dominant reasons for implementing distance education. Implementation issues related to technology, faculty, and direction setting revealed the most impact on the department. The categories of “Academic Leadership” and “Create Positive Work Environment” were dominant. Chairs expressed common agreement that faculty ownership, faculty buy-in, faculty control, and shared direction setting are critical to successful distance education implementation. Department chairs indicated that the keys to success in distance education implementation are generally the same as those for other departmental issues: collaborative and shared goal setting, support and facilitation, encouragement and resource allocation, and chair participation based in role-modeling and mentoring. Institutional characteristics of Carnegie classification, sector, and enrollment displayed some degree of association with “reasons,” “impact,” and “leadership” with the most significant differences displayed between Associates and Research 1&2/Doctoral 1&2 institutions. More significant was the large degree of concurrence among department chairs across Carnegie classification, sector, and enrollment that revealed the overarching nature of distance education issues and the tendency of those issues to transcend differences related to institutional characteristics.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Educational software|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Kinley, Edward R., "Implementing distance education, the impact of institutional characteristics: A view from the department chair's chair" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3016316.