Current Issue

Theory to Practice: Implementation and Initial Impact of an Online Doctoral Program

Swapna Kumar
Fred Hartfield
Kara Dawson

by  Swapna Kumar Ed.D.
Kara Dawson Ph.D.

This article describes successes and challenges of the first implementation of an online Ed.D. program that impacted students’ professional growth and practice. Based on an analysis of student survey comments, student interviews, and faculty interviews at the end of the first year, program improvements were made for future cohorts. Lessons learned and best practices shared in this article will be useful to other institutions embarking on and engaged in online programs and professional practice degrees.

An Analysis of Organizational Approaches to Online Course Structures

Cheng-Yuan Lee, Jeremy Dickerson, Joe Winslow

by  Dr. Cheng-Yuan Lee
      Dr. Jeremy Dickerson
      Dr. Joe Winslow

The structure of an online course, including the navigational interface, visual design of materials and information, as well as the communication tools to facilitate learning, can affect students, instructors, programs and educational organizations in various ways. This paper examines online course structural issues derived from previous research as well as the authors’ collective experiences as instructors, instructional designers, and online learners at multiple universities. Three organizational philosophies of online course structure are analyzed, and ten key components for developing a well-organized online course are presented based on established design principles. This information is intended to help emerging online instructors understand their own organizational culture and to develop a more standardized approach to online course design. 

Distance Education Enrollment is Associated with Greater Academic Progress Among First Generation Low-Income Undergraduate Students in the US in 2008

David Woolstenhulme
Manuel Pontes, Nancy Pontes

by  Manuel Pontes
      Nancy Pontes

First Generation undergraduate students from low-income households (FGLI students) continue to have substantially higher dropout rates than non first generation students or students from more affluent households despite numerous efforts over many decades to improve graduation rates among this group of students. The purpose of this research is to determine whether FGLI students in the US who enroll in distance education classes are likely to make greater academic progress (more likely to be enrolled for the entire academic year and more likely to be enrolled full time during the academic year) than FGLI students who enroll in face-to-face classes exclusively. For this research, we used data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS) conducted in 2008. The NPSAS 2008 used a complex survey design to collect data from a nationally representative sample of about 113,500 postsecondary undergraduate students in the US. The results of this study show that FGLI students who enrolled in distance education were significantly less likely to have an enrollment gap in 2008 than FGLI students who did not enroll in any distance education class. Indeed, the negative association between distance education enrollment and the likelihood of an enrollment gap was significantly greater among FGLI students than among non-FGLI students. Distance education enrollment was also associated with a greater likelihood of full-time enrollment in 2008, among both FGLI students and non-FGLI students. These results, from a large nationally representative sample, suggest that providing FGLI students with greater access to distance education classes may increase degree progress rates and degree completion rates.

Electronic Media: A Motivational Strategy for Student Success
David Woolstenhulme
Laurie Millam, Dora Finamore, Aaron Hochanadel, Cathy Hochanadel, Michelle Reinhardt

by  Laurie Millam
      Dora Finamore
      Aaron Hochanadel

      Cathy Hochanade
      Michelle Reinhardt

Motivation, engagement, goal attainment and effective interaction are essential components for college students to be successful in the online educational environment.  The popularity and influx of electronic media applications has allowed educators the opportunity to incorporate social media (Facebook, Twitter), and volitional messages (Simple Truths, Animoto) in order to enhance the online student learning experience.  As a result, student-teacher interaction can be more personal, satisfying, and relevant to students’ efforts in meeting their academic needs.  Research has shown that students who are motivated, engaged, and interactive are more likely to be successful in an online classroom. However, exactly how motivational strategies work and which specific ones are effective is still an area of uncertainty. This report presents a review of recent literature and trends in order to determine the impact of various electronic media as a motivational strategy geared towards promoting student success in undergraduate online college courses.  The researchers for this study will review various targeted electronic media applications as motivational strategies based on Keller’s ARCS Motivational Model (Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction) and volition in an online environment and how these strategies can impact student success. Kuhl (1987) added the fifth component, volition, to the integrated theory. Volition or self-regulatory strategies are used by students to overcome obstacles that may impede success attainment. Kuhl defined volition as a “mediating factor that energizes the maintenance and enactment of intended actions” (1987, p. 90).

Marketing for A Web-Based Master's Degree Program in Light of Marketing Mix Model
David Woolstenhulme
Cheng-Chang (Sam) Pan

by  Cheng-Chang (Sam) Pan

The marketing mix model was applied with a focus on Web media to re-strategize a Web-based Master’s program in a southern state university in U.S. The program’s existing marketing strategy was examined using the four components of the model: product, price, place, and promotion, in hopes to repackage the program (product) to prospective students (customers) and to offset the impact of dissolved partnership with its state-funded coordinating body, which carried a stronger brand image than the university where the program was housed. Challenges and recommendations were addressed.

Attitudes of Prospective Human Resource Personnel towards Distance Learning Degrees

I. Bola Udegbe

by  I. Bola Udegbe, Ph.D

This study investigated the attitudes of Prospective Human Resource Personnel toward degrees obtained by distance learning in comparison to those obtained through conventional degree program. Using a cross-sectional survey design, a total of 215 postgraduate students who had been or had potential to be involved in the hiring process in their organizations participated in this study. Research findings showed less favorable attitudes to degrees obtained via distance learning.  Results also showed significant differences in perceived employment utility between comparable degrees obtained via distance learning and those obtained via conventional degree program. Gender, work experience, age and knowing  distance learning graduates did not have significant effects on respondents’ attitudes. Type of education (HND vs B.Sc) however had a significant effect on perceived utility of degree for gaining employment and achieving success on the job.



From the Editor

Melanie ClayHello Readers:

Today is one of those perfect spring days in Georgia. It's in the low 80s, the flowers seem to be popping out by the minute, and the sun beckons me to enjoy this edition of the journal outside on my laptop. Now, if we can just keep the spring tornadoes at bay. One of our articles, "An Analysis of Organizational Approaches to Online Course Structures," by Lee, Dickerson, and Winslow, is very timely as online education has reached the perfect storm of growth, validation, and increased accountability. While I was once a strong advocate for near complete academic freedom in the development of online courses, such an approach is less practical these days. By implementing at least the most basic of quality standards, we are assured a more streamlined administrative structure, a more positive experience for students, and the meeting of several important accreditation standards. I am still uncertain as to how formalized peer review processes should be (I think simplicity is better), but this article provides an excellent review of various paths and considerations. Have a wonderful spring, and I hope to see many of you at our DLA Conference at Jekyll Island in June.

Peace to all,

Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.
March 15, 2012

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Last modified:March 15, 2012