Date of Award

Summer 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Gary Morrison

Committee Member

Ginger Watson

Committee Member

Philip Reed


To determine the primary barriers encountered by community college faculty in participating in distance education, community college faculty and administrators from community colleges in North Carolina and Virginia were surveyed using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Two separate online surveys were provided to faculty and distance education administrators (including chief academic officers) that included demographic questions and barrier assessment questions for both groups. Follow-up interviews were conducted among faculty and administrators at colleges that self-reported having successful or poorly performing distance education programs. To further frame the attributes of faculty participators and non-participators in distance education, the diffusion of innovations theory (Rogers, 1995) was used to assess the survey results.

The results showed that the faculty group that engage in distance education tend to be individuals with full-time status, possessing significant amount of community college teaching experience, and possessing characteristics that align themselves closely with innovators and early adopters of innovations as described by the diffusion of innovations theory. Conversely, faculty with less college teaching experience and tendencies of early and late majority types relative to adoption of innovations or technology were shown to not engage in distance education.

The faculty reported that the main obstacles to participation in distance education included 'faculty workload', 'lack of faculty compensation', 'the quality of students', 'additional responsibilities', 'the quality of distance courses', and 'the strong need for direct in-class contact with students' as the major barriers to their participation in distance education. The study showed that administrators feel the biggest barrier to faculty participation is the lack of a strong technological background. The results of the survey also revealed that two categories of barriers to participation in distance education that were not reported in the literature, 'philosophy and belief and 'no opportunity'.


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