Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Yiping Lou, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sanghoon Park, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Hatten, Ph.D.


lived experience, online course design, online faculty, online teaching


With the advances in technology, there has been a steady and unstoppable expansion in online education, and as technology has kept changing, so has online education. These changes have impacted the experiences of the faculty members, which has led to a growing interest in examining what online faculty members’ lived experiences are. To have a better understanding of the prior status of the research conducted on online education, this dissertation included a systematic literature review between the years 2000-2018. The systematic review of the literature demonstrated that the major issues examined in prior studies included online faculty motivation, inhibitors, online faculty course design, implementation practices and roles, and online faculty satisfaction. Researchers have attempted to explain online faculty motivation, satisfaction, workload and role changes mostly through quantitative studies. Some researchers also implemented mixed methods and qualitative research to examine online faculty members’ perceptions of online education, best practices in designing and implementing online courses. These studies were limited in terms of their data relying mostly on context bounded self-reports. Moreover, as technology evolves swiftly, so does the online education due to the changing affordances of available technology. Therefore, this study aims to describe the lived experiences of the online faculty members through a qualitative research design, namely multiple descriptive case study, collecting data from two rounds of interviews and an online course observation. In addition, a review of the literature demonstrated that only one study attempted to examine online faculty experiences through the lens of a distance learning theory (Bair & Bair, 2011). Therefore, there was also a need to analyze and explain the experiences of the online faculty members through a distance learning theory. While depicting the lived experiences of the online faculty members, the current study aims to portray a detailed picture of the online faculty members’ course design and implementation strategies in relation to Michael Moore’s (1989) Three Types of Interaction Framework.

The findings of the study demonstrate that online faculty motivation and satisfaction are dynamic. As the initial experiences of the faculty members wear out, the factors impacting their motivation and satisfaction change. The factors impacting faculty members’ motivation and satisfaction also vary from one faculty member to another faculty member. In addition, the experiences of the faculty members in designing and implementing online courses change as they become more experienced. The faculty members implement several strategies to facilitate student interaction with other students, the course content and the course instructor while they design and teach online courses. They also improve their strategies as they face challenges while they teach online.

The findings of the study in relation to Michael Moore’s (1989) Three Types of Interaction Framework demonstrate that while the faculty members design their online courses, they pay utmost attention to having a consistent structure of their online courses in order to avoid student disorientation. They use a variety of content materials to cater for the needs of their online students, and design several activities to enhance student interaction with the content. They prefer to chunk the content into modules, in which they design a consistent pattern of course activities. The faculty members while designing the course activities also pay attention to creating opportunities for learner-learner interaction such as discussion boards and group projects. The study also show that faculty design their online courses in ways help them communicate with the students, for instance, they design home pages, orientation modules, or provide several alternative ways of contact.

The study also indicates that while the faculty teach online courses, they use different strategies to facilitate student interaction with their classmates, the course content and the instructor. The strategies implemented to enhance learner-learner interaction include mostly discussion forums. The faculty members paid attention to provide variety of assignments for discussions such as reflecting on peer’s work, discussing case studies as well as checking if the students read the assigned materials. Due to student complaints about the challenges faced while completing group projects, they were rarely used. Some faculty chose to drop the group projects completely whereas some faculty used them sparingly. As for the student interaction with the content, most faculty members prefer to roll out the whole course upfront and allow students to see the whole course, be able to make connections and see the expected outcomes. Some faculty, however, also prefer releasing the course content module by module and using pre-requisites to control student interaction with the content as well as their peers. As for student interaction with the course instructor, the faculty members implement various strategies such as on-campus course orientations, announcements, e-mails, discussion boards, one-on-one synchronous sessions and phone calls to communicate with their students.

Finally, the study presents a more detailed picture of the lived experiences of the online faculty through the lens of distance learning theoretical framework. It helps to better understand how the online faculty design and facilitate student interaction with their classmates, course content as well as the course instructor. It provides several pedagogical and empirical implications in line with and addition to prior research.