Exploring multi-stakeholder perspectives on dimensions of online course quality in higher education
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The main purpose of this study was to examine and compare the perspectives of academic administrators, faculty, and students in a research intensive university in the Midwestern US, on the characteristics of a quality online course. The study also sought to establish the institutional strategies used at the university to address the quality of online courses and the challenges that faculty perceived that they faced in their efforts to design and deliver quality online courses. Data was collected mainly using document analysis and semi-structured interviews. Five administrators, five faculty, and six students participated in the study. The results of this study indicated that there were areas of both similarities and differences in the perceptions of the three stakeholder groups about what constitutes a quality online course. The differences that emerged mainly related to attributes of a course prior to its commencement and to the infrastructure that supports it. The similarities across the three stakeholder groups mainly related to aspects of course processes. Differences would appear to arise with attributes that are 'behind the scenes,"--that is, those attributes such as effective faculty support that must be in place to ensure that the course processes associated with quality can occur. The results also suggest that when the goal orientations between the groups are in alignment, the perceived attributes of quality are similar. One conclusion from an examination of the differences may be that the absence of an attribute that supports quality course processes may trigger students as a stakeholder group to define that as an attribute of quality; whereas faculty and administrators recognize that there are "behind the scenes" attributes that are necessary to ensure online course quality.
Access is limited to the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia.