Faculty Attitudes Toward Residential and Distance Learning: A Case Study in Instructional Mode Preferences Among Theological Seminary Faculty

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Twenty-first century learners have bought into a cafeteria-style mentality for obtaining higher education that learning should be available at the student's convenience. Institutions that ignore this postmodern trend will likely find their applicant pools dwindling along with significant reductions in entering class sizes. Students will simply choose other schools able to provide respected, accredited, and useful learning which fits their busy lifestyles. Since 1987, Dallas Theological Seminary (Texas), a 76-year-old graduate school of theology in the conservative, evangelical, free-church movement, has offered distance learning classes in both extension and print-based delivery models. Because the faculty plays a pivotal role in ... continued below

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Scott, Benjamin G. May 2003.

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  • Scott, Benjamin G.

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Twenty-first century learners have bought into a cafeteria-style mentality for obtaining higher education that learning should be available at the student's convenience. Institutions that ignore this postmodern trend will likely find their applicant pools dwindling along with significant reductions in entering class sizes. Students will simply choose other schools able to provide respected, accredited, and useful learning which fits their busy lifestyles. Since 1987, Dallas Theological Seminary (Texas), a 76-year-old graduate school of theology in the conservative, evangelical, free-church movement, has offered distance learning classes in both extension and print-based delivery models. Because the faculty plays a pivotal role in the successful or unsuccessful implementation of online courses (McKenzie, Mims, Bennett, & Waugh, 2000), the present study uncovered the attitudes of full-time, graduate theological faculty at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) regarding distance learning and the likelihood of faculty to adopt this delivery innovation.
Bruce Manning's (1976) Trouble-Shooting Checklist (TSC) for Higher Education Institutions was the instrument used in the study. The TSC is a nonparametric test designed to uncover differences between the observed and expected levels of acceptance that a department, program, or institution possesses regarding change toward distance learning in contrast to residential learning. The checklist's two major purposes are to provide an overall norm-referenced, predictive score estimating the organization's likelihood of adopting and implementing an innovation and to profile the strengths and weaknesses of an organization's environment (culture) relative to the adoption and implementation of innovations. Five scales provide a comprehensive understanding of the organizational climate, personality and leadership characteristics of participants, communication pathways within the organization, the degree of sophistication or expertise within the organization, and the receptivity of the students.
An official administration of the instrument was conducted involving all full-time faculty at DTS. Frequency counts, percentage distributions, and the chi-square goodness-of-fit statistic were used to analyze the data at the .05 alpha level. A summary of findings from the questionnaire was prepared indicating that significant change must take place within the faculty culture of DTS before distance learning innovations can be implemented.

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  • May 2003

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  • Feb. 15, 2008, 2:44 p.m.

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  • April 26, 2016, 6:23 p.m.

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Scott, Benjamin G. Faculty Attitudes Toward Residential and Distance Learning: A Case Study in Instructional Mode Preferences Among Theological Seminary Faculty, dissertation, May 2003; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4146/: accessed September 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .