Student perspectives of future online faculty competencies: A qualitative descriptive study
Part of a series of research studies looking at needed competencies for online faculty in higher education for a variety of stakeholder viewpoints. This qualitative study engaged 480 college students with at least one online class.
The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to acquire a better understanding of the dominant student perceptions of the competencies and abilities that online faculty might need ten years in the future. Ten years was an arbitrary time line and this study is a part of a series of studies focused on competencies for online higher education faculty. While student expectations have been discussed in the literature, studies rarely involve the students themselves. This study involved a survey of 500 college-level students who have taken at least one online class. Student college experience included some college and no degree to graduate degrees. Four major themes emerged from a study of the categories and subcategories that evolved from the coding of the surveys. Faculty communication, online and interpersonal, is the most critical aspect for success in future online classes. Technical and computer skills are critical, specifically the need to use visual, auditory, and other multimedia tools to provide as the most effective communication possible. Patience with students will be critical for faculty in the future, as diversity will continue to increase. In addition, students experience many different issues, and patience in dealing with those specific needs will be important. Related to patience, future online faculty members need to be flexible in class requirements, schedules, and communication modalities. The themes and their implications to future online teaching and future research were discussed.
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