Investigating faculty Internet use in the Association of Theological Schools
Elmer Rudolph Shelby, Indiana University, United States
Doctor of Philosophy, Indiana University . Awarded
The supply of students from theological schools has not met the demand of churches across the United States and Canada. Schools' declining enrollment is alarming and some consider distance education to be a potential solution because students who otherwise might not attend could access a theological school program from a distance. In 1996, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the accrediting agency for theological schools in the United States and Canada, permitted schools to begin a transition from traditional classroom training methods to non face-to-face methods such as Internet based education (IBE). This change allowed students to use IBE to earn a maximum of 64 credit hours (out of 90 credit hours for the standard Master of Divinity [M.Div.]) degree. Several decades of research by Hall and Hord (1987), Changes in schools: Facilitating the process, has shown that the adoption of innovations is unlikely to occur unless participants' stages of concern are addressed adequately and sequentially.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the concerns faculty in theological schools have about the use of Internet based education. Survey packets accommodating 3607 faculty members were mailed to all 251 schools. Usable returned surveys were comprised of 135 paper-based (sent through regular mail) and 86 online surveys (emailed responses), for a total of 221, which represents 6.1% of the population. Faculty concerns were measured by the Stages of Concern Questionnaire form the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM).
The composite faculty SoC profile correspondingly reflected the "nonuser" category. No significant differences in Stages of Concern were found between groups of faculty when divided by common demographic criteria such as years of teaching experience, pastoral experience, technology courses taken, and type of degree.
Quantitative methods of analysis included SoC profile comparison, High Stage Score and Second High Stage Score analysis, Profile interpretation, Cross tabulations and chi-square tests. Results reflected a general lack of knowledge and awareness about the innovation (IBE) from the faculty and strong personal concerns about what impact it will have on learning. The faculty clearly displayed a negative attitude toward this innovation and seemed unconvinced that it was the optimal solution.
Shelby, E.R. Investigating faculty Internet use in the Association of Theological Schools. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Indiana University.
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