Comparing Faculty Perception of Online Instructional Design Best Practices to Faculty Implementation of Instructional Design Best Practices: A Look at Two Components of ENCORE

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This study will use the ENCORE review process to conduct a needs assessment of faculty perceptions of online instructional design best practices.  Data will also serve to compare perceptions of best practices to actual implementation.  This will identify training needs for faculty and opportunities for dissemination of best practices.​

Sponsored By


Karen works with faculty and staff in guiding course development through the entire development process by providing guidance regarding best practices in online course development and leading/completing tasks related to course design, content development, media production, course review, and others as needed. In addition to her work in course development, Karen identifies grant opportunities that are appropriate for Clemson Online (CO) and helps lead the grant writing and submission process. Karen also helps facilitate collaboration and partnership development by sharing CO's services with university leaders, faculty, and external organizations where appropriate. Throughout Karen's career, she has trained and educated students and adults in various media. This experience has given her a unique understanding of how to get information across to various groups that result in knowledge and active involvement. Beginning in June 2011, Karen began working at Clemson University on a grant-funded project, the SC Farm to School (SC FTS) Program. In this role, she was tasked with writing nutrition and agriculture lessons for the SC FTS program. Following completion of this grant, Karen worked in a supervisory capacity for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) for nutrition educator paraprofessionals. In this role, Karen was tasked with communicating policies, evaluation, and training. In 2013, a need for more formal evaluation was identified and Karen was transitioned to an evaluation role. In this role, she completed both process and outcome evaluations, led the grant writing team, and led grant-funded projects. Beginning in 2014, her role expanded to lead the development of a professional development course for SC teachers in nutrition education. This professional development course was online and Karen’s role included the development of the online modules, assessment, and evaluation of the project. In addition to this role, in 2015, Karen transitioned to Clemson Online and began working as an eLearning Strategist while co-leading the development of nutrition online training for SC child care providers. In addition to her full-time work with Clemson, Karen has also worked towards a second Masters in Agricultural Education and has now transitioned to the Learning Sciences Ph.D. program with a focus on online education. With this program, Karen had the opportunity to co-teach an undergraduate class, developing and assessing four online modules for students. In December 2010, Karen received her Masters in Youth Development Leadership at Clemson University. Her master's research focused on the importance of parental perception in fighting childhood obesity. Outside of her work with Clemson Online, Karen is an avid runner and enjoys the outdoors, spending warmer months on the lake and beach. She is a huge sports fan, enjoying football, basketball, and baseball - of course, the Tigers are her favorite team! Karen also enjoys reading and baking cheesecakes. She has one daughter. She and her husband (who she met at Clemson) have been married for over 18 years. Karen also is the proud owner of a Brittney Spaniel who is full of energy!

Extended Abstract


Introduction to Research

As a doctoral student in Learning Sciences at Clemson University, my research will focus on online instructional design best practices.  Specifically, I will look at faculty perceptions of their skills in online instructional design best practices and compare to actual implementation of said best practices in course design.  Tentative research questions are:

  1. What are faculty perceptions of online instructional design best practices regarding collaborative learning and engaging content?
    1. How important do faculty rank each component within these two best practices?
  2. Does faculty course design reflect the collaborative learning and engaging content components of the ENCORE review process?
    1. Do faculty skills in online instructional design best practices match their perceived ranking of importance for these skills?

To conduct this research, I will use the following research tools:

  • Borich Needs Assessment Model
  • Award-winning ENCORE review process components: Collaborative Learning and Engaging Content
  • Diffusion of Innovation Theory 


Presentation Format

This is a beginning research project for a dissertation in Learning Sciences.  The presentation will be facilitated through interactive slides which will provide attendees an opportunity to ask questions, take notes, and provide feedback through an interactive survey.  Attendees will have an opportunity to learn how this research will contribute to the diffusion of online instructional design best practices, specifically with faculty training.  All presentation material will be online and accessible through a presentation link.  The presentation will include the following components: 1) introduction; 2) summary of research questions; 3) summary of research tools; 4) interactive component for receiving feedback.  

Presentation Content

  1. Introduction: The introduction will include a brief description of my interests in online best practices for faculty.  For most of my career, I have been a trainer in various communications and media.  My introduction to online learning best practices began with an awarded grant to develop a professional development course for South Carolina K-12 teachers in nutrition education and obesity prevention.  Working closely with Clemson Online, our team developed an asynchronous online course which included videos, interactive games, community discussions, assessments, and a final project.  This project also included an evaluation of the online course which included the instructional design of the course.  Thus, began my research and interests into best practices for designing and delivering online courses.  This led me to the Learning Sciences PhD program at Clemson University as well as a transfer to the Clemson Online Curriculum and Instructional Design Team as a Digital Learning Strategist.
  2. Summary of Research Questions: In conjunction with my chair and committee member, along with my supervisor, I worked to develop relevant questions that would benefit Clemson Online as well as our faculty and staff at Clemson University.  The research questions were also developed to be replicable and applicable to any college offering online programs.  The focus of the research questions is to understand faculty perceptions with online instructional design best practices in the areas of collaborative learning and engaging content and how those perceptions influence the importance of those best practices.  In addition, the research questions go a step further to understand how those perceptions and rankings translate to implementation of best practices within faculty course design.  The research questions are designed to further the understanding of training needs for faculty and staff in online course instructional design.  They will also add an evaluation component to help inform policies and processes for diffusing innovative tools and training for faculty and staff in online instructional design best practices.    
  3. Summary of Research Tools: I chose the research tools for their contribution to successfully address the research questions.  
    1.     3.1. Borich Needs Assessment Model: I chose this model because of its use to not only identify perceptions but also further weight and rank the data to identify discrepancies and priorities for faculty training.  The Borich Needs Assessment Model has been used extensively in Agricultural Education and Training which consistently has a need to diffuse innovations for adoption to enhance and improve agricultural production and training.  Recognizing the importance of diffusing innovative online learning design best practices for faculty training, this model also has wider applications in the evaluation of adoption of innovative practices regardless of discipline
      1.     3.1.1. The Borich Needs Assessment Model is designed using the following criteria: 
      2. Competency statements derived from the overall goals and objectives of intended training.  In this case, competency statements would be derived from the two ENCORE standards (collaborative learning and engagement).  
      3. Faculty rank competency statements on perceived relevance and level of attainment.  Competency statements can be further defined into categories of knowledge, performance, and consequence.
      4. Competency statements are ranked based on results.  Ranking is calculated by the categories of knowledge, performance, and consequence which looks at the difference between perceived importance and perceived level of attainment using mean weighted discrepancy score (MWDS) ([(Importance Rating- Ability Rating) x (M Importance Rating)]/ Number of Observations).
      5. The analysis provides a comparison of high priority competencies (discrepancies with the highest positive rank) to actual training programs using the grand mean weighted discrepancy score (each variable’s MWDS, within a particular construct, and calculating the average).  
    1.     3.2. ENCORE: The Clemson Online Team developed ENCORE as an internal review process.  This tool has been thoroughly vetted and peer-reviewed by the nation’s leaders in online education.  It has won multiple awards and has been successfully adopted at Clemson with positive feedback from faculty.  The two components of ENCORE chosen for this research are collaborative learning and engaging content.  These components were chosen with the help of my supervisor and because of their direct relation to my career goals.  My committee also reviewed these components.  Below are the ENCORE standards for collaborative learning and engaging content.
      1.     3.2.1. Collaborative Learning: Collaboration and interaction are the keys to a successful online course. To meet ENCORE(S) standards for Collaborative Learning, a course must:
    • Provide opportunities for students and faculty to engage with one another.
    • Include opportunities for students to engage with one another.
    • Present students with opportunities to ask questions.
    • Provide students with the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways, including direct observation and/or interactions (videos, games, small group discussions, class-wide discussions, projects, etc.).
    • Present content in multiple ways (i.e., text, media, etc.) to accommodate different learning styles and abilities.
    • Feature assessment activities that prepare students for activities they will encounter later in the course.
    • Offer students individualized feedback for assessment activities.
    1.     3.2.2. Engaging Content: Research has shown that students' level of engagement corresponds with their level of success in online learning environments. To meet ENCORE(S) standards for Engaging Content, a course must:  
    • Use technology to help foster a dynamic learning environment. 
    • Feature up-to-date resources that offer various perspectives on the course content.
    • Reinforce connections to previously learned material.
    1.     3.3. Diffusion of Innovations Theory: I selected the diffusion of innovations theory after a literature review on using the theory to help with adoption of online learning with faculty.  As with the Borich needs assessment model, the diffusion of innovations has been used extensively in diffusing agricultural innovations but has also been applied successfully in online learning.  Rogers defines four main elements in the diffusion of innovation process: an innovation, communication channel, time, and social system (2003).  The theory focuses on how the innovation is communicated and accepted in a social system over time.  There are five stages of innovation: knowledge (awareness of innovation), persuasion (form an opinion of the innovation), decision (participate in activities to decide on acceptance of innovation), implementation (use the innovation), and confirmation (cues to confirm adoption or rejection of innovation).  There are five adopter categories: innovators, early adopters, early majority, later majority, and laggards.  The adopter categories are representative of the typical timeframe in which an adopter decides to accept or reject an innovation.  In general, each adopter moves through the innovation-decision process and chooses to either adopt or reject the innovation.
  1. Interactive Component for Receiving Feedback: The purpose of the Graduate Student Discovery Session is to introduce and receive feedback from the experts and professionals at OLC.  In an effort to have a seamless avenue for receiving feedback, the presentation will be available in an interactive format to allow attendees to follow along during the presentation and provide reflection and feedback after the presentation.  The format will be in a Zeetings presentation.  Zeetings will not only make the format interactive during the presentation but will also allow for reflection and feedback from attendees on the research.  Examples of interactive components during the presentation are: polls, activity (allows participants to post questions and comments), and notes (allows participants to take notes during the presentation).  After the presentation, attendees will have an opportunity to submit comments on the presentation as well as share their contact information (not required) if they would like to further discuss the research.  


Borich, G. D.  (1980).  A needs assessment model for conducting follow-up studies.  Journal of     Teacher Education, 31(3), 39-42.​


Rogers, E. M.  (2003). Diffusions of Innovations (5th ed.).  New York, NY: Free Press