Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Laura Smithers

Committee Director

David Ayers

Committee Member

Robin Isserles

Committee Member

Mitchell Williams


The work of instructional design in community college settings is woefully understudied. This study documents that work in three community colleges in the southeastern United States while placing it in the theoretical context of neoliberalism, and in line with that theoretical context, takes a post-structuralist stance in its methodological approach.

It is in the discourses of instructional quality, online teaching, and design that instructional designers and faculty engage with each other. In contrast to the more well understood working relationship in a four-year institution, the power relationships between these two groups have not been examined in a community college context. Therefore, the research questions for this study were:

1. What practices do instructional designers and faculty employ in negotiating the boundaries and responsibilities of teaching and design in a community college context?

2. How do power/knowledge relations produce instructional designers’ and faculty’s multiple subjectivities as they engage in the development and teaching of online courses?

To investigate these questions, instructional designers, managers, and faculty were interviewed, with the instructional designers being interviewed multiple times over a number of months in the first half of 2023.

One of the findings of the study was that instructional design as a practice is making institutional space for itself by unbundling the role of faculty, and the definition of what a course is. In this process, Quality Matters as a certifying organization has emerged as a mechanism by which instructional designers identify themselves as professionals within institutions, with areas of specialized expertise.

Among the curiosities that emerged from this study, the mutual invisibility of work appeared to function in keeping people apart and in tension with one another. Everybody was busy, unappreciated, and unacknowledged, but “others,” particularly faculty, were characterized as not “good workers” or out of touch and living in a dream world. This suggested that an intentional orientation toward hopeful futures through speculative fiction (hopepunk) might offer a way forward.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).