Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

David Hailey


David Hailey


Keith Grant-Davie


John McLaughlin


Patricia Gantt


Matthew Cox


In the short history of online education research, researchers studying teacher experiences regularly relied on anecdotal examples or small samples. This research sought to support and enhance previous findings concerning the best practices in online education through a nationwide survey of online and blended course instructors. The survey inquired about demographics (such as age, race, and gender), professional position(i.e. tenured professor), institution, department, and their initial and current feelings about teaching online education. It questioned if the respondents studied online as students,what resources administrators provided, their audience, length of instructional experience, and personal behaviors such as blogging or using social media. It also asked what they would want administrators to know, all with the intent to verify current beliefs about the best practices, discover additional possibilities, and find practices,demographics, and behaviors that may be associated or correlated with positive or negative experiences in online education. The study did not acquire enough responses to make generalizable statistical conclusions to the population of online instructors at the top higher educational institutions of the United States, yet the findings supported many of the established best practices in online education: establishing teacher presence, choosing the best content, establishing supportive class communities with interactive social activities, using variety, communicating expectations with students, beginning with clearly defined learning outcomes, making the course materials easily accessible and navigable for students, and emulating the best classroom pedagogies while acknowledging and adjusting for the differences. It also revealed six primary factors the participants felt impacted their positive or negative experiences in online learning: (a) the instructor’s impressions that they/the course succeeded or failed; (b) the quality or lack thereof of student responses and learning; (c) the amount of interaction with students in the course; (d) the perceived availability or unavailability of effective, helpful, and timely support from the institution, colleagues, and IT/technical department; (e) the level of reliability, ease-of-use, and functionality of the LMS or software; and (f) the attitude of the instructor about the medium, including the freedom of design and creation;Additionally, it revealed some instructor concerns about fair compensation for time and effort, particularly when beginning online instruction.