Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Learning Sciences

Committee Member

Matthew Madison

Committee Member

Dale Layfield

Committee Member

Jacquelyn Malloy

Committee Member

Ryan Visser

Committee Member

Nicole Bannister


The role of faculty in online education is critical to its sustainability and success. In Time for Class: Lessons for the Future of Digital Learning in Higher Education, Tyton Partners (2017), a strategy consulting firm, asked administrators the most important factor for successful digital learning and the top response was “support for faculty professional development” (p.14). Yet, many faculty are not trained in digital pedagogy or online best practices. The focus of this research was to understand how faculty perceived the importance of online best practices as well as how they ranked their competency in said best practices. Specifically, this research asked what are faculty perceptions of importance regarding ENCORE (Experience of Students, Navigationally Sound Design, Collaborative Learning, Ongoing Faculty Presence, Relevant Application, and Experience of Students) components? What are faculty perceived competencies for the ENCORE components? How important do faculty rank each ENCORE component? It also explored what university systems (support, training, structures) could potentially increase faculty adoption of ENCORE components in online courses? To answer these questions, a needs assessment using the Borich Needs Assessment Model was conducted, along with interviews. Results emphasized the need for faculty training in areas of Navigationally Sound Design and Engaging Content as well as Relevant Application. The Diffusion of Innovation Theory was applied to understand how universities and teaching centers can better train and support faculty in online learning environments.



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