Angie Anderson
SPEE 633
Professional Communication
Dr. Daniel Cronn-Mills
Spring 2009

Topic 2 Abstract 1: Communication, Technology & Culture
Cook, R. G., Ley, K., Crawford, C., & Warner, A. (2009). Motivators and inhibitors for
University faculty in distance and e-learning. British Journal of Educational Technology,
40, 149-163.
As distance education (DE) is the current trend, higher education administration is increasingly asking faculty to teach online courses. Despite the drive for online learning, faculty have several concerns related to course design, efficacy, student success, and compensation for the increased workload (especially when offering a course online for the first time). Administration need not ignore these concerns as “the success of electronic, web-based, courses (e-courses) depends not only upon the schools and universities, but also on the faculty and adjunct instructors who teach these courses” (Cook, Ley, Crawford, & Warner, 2009, p. 149).
Cook, et. al. (2009) cite 12 studies all indicating “faculty as a key component in the growth and unprecedented success of DE” (p. 150). Therefore, the authors examined four United States’ university studies that asked the participants what factors would motivate them to participate in DE. Participants were mostly teaching faculty, however, some of the studies included deans and administrators. To protect anonymity the four universities in the studies were labeled: Eastern University One (2001), Eastern University Two (2002), Southeast University (2002), and Southwestern University (2003). All of the studies used a Likert scale survey which asked for participant responses to extrinsic and intrinsic motivational factors, and potential inhibitors to instructors’ desire to teach DE. A principal components analysis (PCA) reduced all “53 survey variables to nine factors: traditional staff service; monetary rewards; insufficient rewards; technical and administrative support; job advancement requirements; professional quality; professional prestige; bad press; and personal benefits” (p. 155). Twenty percent of the variance included traditional service (meaning a faculty members’ desire to “serve” his or her institution by teaching DE to provide a service to students or to their profession), while 27 percent variance combined the need for monetary rewards with the concern for insufficient rewards. More specifically, the foremost motivating factors to teach DE for the four universities were as follows: ability to reach new audiences, intellectual challenge, personal motivation to use technology, overall job satisfaction, technical and administrative support available, opportunities to improve teaching, to develop new ideas, to diversify program offerings, to offer flexibility to students, monetary rewards, and professional and personal prestige.
The article suggests differences in motivational factors may exist depending on the stage of acceptance or rejection of technological innovations on the part of the faculty member. These stages are: “early adopters (enthusiasts who immediately used the innovation); adapters (those who accepted the innovation), late adopters and resisters to innovations” (Cook et. al., 2009, p. 150). Earlier studies show that early adopters were motivated by more intrinsic motivational factors, such as the opportunity to learn something new, whereas late adopters were more motivated by tangible, usually monetary, rewards. Overall, the studies demonstrated faculty are most concerned with technical support and the increased time necessary for DE instruction. Therefore, when there is a push for DE instruction, the home institution needs to provide continual reinforcement and support, as intrinsic factors may motivate a faculty member initially, but may not sustain the faculty commitment as faculty are often already full time or overtime and thus reluctant to take on more work to initiate an online course.
Distance based education is changing the paradigm of colleges and universities to be more like a competitive business. The competition for students has increased as online learning lessens the location advantage for some schools (particularly community colleges). High quality learning and successful courses may recruit more students. Cook et. al. (2009) demonstrates the success of a course depends on the motivation of the instructor to teach that course. As with any organizational setting, employees who have intrinsic and extrinsic motivation will in turn be more productive for the company. Since the motivational factors are continually changing, individual colleges and universities could do an annual or biannual survey of its own faculty to examine the motivational factors for faculty at their particular institution. Surveys could provide the information needed to decide on the programs, funding, and technical support needed to continually motivate faculty to create high quality online courses and thus remain a top choice for students in an increasingly competitive academic world. As the roll of DE grows and solidifies in the academic market, administrators need to recognize the integral role that faculty play in achieving the school’s DE goals. The studies are clear; faculty at universities with successful DE programs “indicate faculty participation and low attrition in DE” (Cook et. al., 2009, p. 157). In addition faculty members at these successful institutions “receive both extrinsic incentives and demonstrated administrative support for the university administration for DE participation” and also felt “intrinsically valued for their contributions in DE and e-learning” (p. 157).