Date of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Robert Kelchen, PhD

Committee Member

David Reid, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Natalia Kouraeva, Ed.D.


instructional design, instructional designers, higher education, collaboration theory, experiential learning theory, adult learning theory, faculty online professional development, online teaching


The rapid integration of online education has led to faculty challenges in teaching online. Research shows that faculty online professional development that focuses on pedagogical inquiry can lead to better teaching of online courses. This qualitative case study was conducted to explore the experiences of a team of eight instructional designers who developed a four-course online teaching certificate program at a large public research university. In addition, this study sought to better understand how instructional designers describe university support for leading this faculty online professional development initiative and determine whether their expertise in online pedagogy can lead to improved online course development and teaching by faculty learners. Data for this study was collected through course document analysis and semi-structured interviews to gain insight into the collaborative course development process and facilitation of the program. I analyzed the data and determined that the instructional design team consisted of a diverse group of practitioners who took upon a shared role in the decision-making process within the program. Their various specializations within the field of instructional design allowed for the co-development of four courses focusing on the fundamentals of designing and teaching online courses, the basic concepts related to accessibility in online courses and the benefits of using “universal design” for developing course materials, strategies for engaging students in online courses, and considerations for academic video production in online teaching.

Key findings included a perceived lack of university wide support for the program, the discovery that training in technological tools was secondary to the pedagogical best practices emphasized throughout the program. The team used instructional design methodology incorporating adult learning principles to deliberately design learner-centered courses, giving faculty learners in the program the experience of being an online student before considering their role as an online instructor. Discourse and shared reflection upon the learning experiences within the program transformed faculty perceptions about online education and brought recognition to the value of instructional design in the course development process. Positional parity, a centralized instructional design team of specialized professionals, and experiential learning design empowered instructional designers to be partners and leaders of a successful online teaching certificate program.

The following themes emerged from this study: diversity, collaboration, time constraints, university priorities and structure, establishing trust, and relationship building. Study recommendations included: (a) greater recognition of the pedagogical expertise of instructional designers (b) positional parity within instructional design teams can help to foster collaboration and teamwork, thereby leading to more effective online leadership initiatives, (c) instructional design teams should be centrally located and preferably situated within academic reporting lines to prevent misconceptions about their roles in higher education, and (d) experiential learning design in online professional development can transform perceptions about online education and subsequently improve the quality of online teaching.

Signed Approval for a Sucessful Defense_Nov. 18 2000.pdf (532 kB)
Signed Approval for a Successful Defense