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Online pedagogical quality questioned: Probing instructional designers' perceptions of leadership competencies critical to practice

, Capella University, United States

Capella University . Awarded


Improvements in the quality of online courses and programs for higher education are not keeping pace with burgeoning academic enrollments. While efforts as recent as 2010 have advanced assessments of online program administration and of elements in course designs, evidence is lacking of improved pedagogies. This present study posited that less attention has been paid to causal factors of quality, such as instructional designers’ understanding and application of personal leadership in practice. To explore this situation, a qualitative, phenomenological study of a panel of experts was undertaken. In-depth interviews were guided by the central research question, “What instructional design leadership competencies are identified as critical to creating quality online learning designs?” Participants identified three major critical leadership competencies for quality instructional designs, particularly for web-based higher education: strategy—team oriented and instructional, vision—for the field and pedagogies, and interpersonal skills—communication and character traits. When interview findings were triangulated with personal documents, participant–designed online courses and student evaluations, two evidence–based quality predictors—student–centeredness and student satisfaction—were found to be prevalent. Aggregated study results confirmed a strong relationship between leadership competencies in practice and quality outputs. Conclusions extended a traditional view of organizational and positional leadership to individual designers, along with relevant competencies, for designing quality learning events. Significant to the field of instructional design was the implication that practitioners approach the craft of online learning interventions with oversight and foresight, underpinned by relevant research, in order to lead in an on–going paradigm shift of how knowledge is acquired and assimilated. The research study report concludes by offering a new model of leadership principles for instructional designers committed to excellence in crafting interventions for the 21 st century and beyond.


Ashbaugh, M.L. Online pedagogical quality questioned: Probing instructional designers' perceptions of leadership competencies critical to practice. Ph.D. thesis, Capella University. Retrieved August 5, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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