Strategies for generating faculty trust and buy-in for instructional design

Concurrent Session 2

Brief Abstract

Lack of faculty buy-in is the number one obstacle to effective instructional design.  This study presents the results of a national survey of institutes of higher education on the challenges faced by, and best practices used by, instructional design teams to increase faculty trust and buy-in for instructional design.


Dr. Yingjie Liu is the Lead instructional designer at San Jose State University in California. She has over ten years of experience in teaching and supporting faculty designing/redesigning quality online and blended courses. Focusing on the concept of 'Faculty as Instructional Designer, 'she always scaffolds the instructors through pedagogical course development and technology integration process so they can independently implement in their own courses. As a certified online and face-to-face Quality Matters facilitator, she enjoys teaching QM flagship workshops to help faculty and instructional designers grow beyond their current online teaching and learning expertise. She is passionate about educational research in online education and innovative technologies, and has led several national studies bridging the gap between faculty needs and course design support. She has also led many research projects and facilitated workshops on Virtual Reality and immersive learning at national conferences.

Extended Abstract

Course design significantly influences student satisfaction (Cho & Tobias, 2016; Hosler & Arend, 2012; Richardson & Swan, 2003) and success in online learning environments (Jaggars & Xu, 2016; Rockinson-Szapkiw, Wighting, & Nisbet, 2016; Yang, Quadir, Chen, & Miao, 2016).  Consequently, as enrollment in online higher education continues to represent an ever-greater percentage of overall college enrollment year-after-year (Allen & Seaman, 2016), effective design of online courses is becoming increasingly important to both student and institutional success.


Effective online course design is “strongly correlated with how the professional development approaches respond to the needs of online teachers” (Baran & Correia, 2014).  While, nearly all institutes of higher education provide training and support programs centered on technology integration and course design (Dahlstrom & Brooks, 2014; Dahlstrom & Brooks, Grajek, & Reeves, 2015), especially for online faculty (Meyer & Murrell, 2014), many faculty question the value of professional development in general and the content of professional development programs more specifically (Malik, Nasim, & Tabassum, 2015).  As a result, many faculty and administrators have negative perceptions of the quality and value of online teaching and learning (Allen & Seaman, 2016; Baran & Correia, 2014), have limited knowledge of the advantages of online education (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2016), and fail to appreciate the pedagogical requirements necessary for the successful design and facilitation of online courses (Garrison, 2015).


While collaboration with faculty in the design and delivery of online courses can provide a catalyst and support for rethinking the value of online learning (Garrison, 2015; Voogt et al., 2015), both institutional support for training and development, and ultimately target participant engagement in such training will necessarily inform the success of any training and development initiative.  Presently, there is little research on the gap between the provision of faculty training and support, and the acquisition of that training by faculty.  Thus, more research is needed to identify the challenges of, and best practices for, attracting faculty to training and development programs (Intentional Futures, 2016; Malik et al., 2015; Webb, Wong, & Hubball, 2013).  More specifically, as a lack of faculty buy-in is the primary obstacle to instructional designers encounter when attempted to engage faculty, the Intentional Futures report on Instructional Design in Higher Education (2016) specifically called for more research on the strategies instructional designers use to generate faculty trust and buy-in for instructional design.


This study presents the results of a national survey of institutes of higher education on the challenges faced by, and best practices used by, instructional design teams to increase faculty trust and buy-in for instructional design training and professional development.  


The findings provide insight into key areas such as:

  • The relationship between various institutional support structures and the effectiveness of training programs and online course quality

  • The relationship between ownership and authority, and course and training design and delivery

  • How faculty and administration resistance to change affects instructional design programs and processes

  • The importance of professional development for instructional designers

  • Specific technologies faculty are most interested in learning about

  • The most and least effective strategies for engaging faculty in the design process

  • Best practices for marketing the services of an instructional design team


Data gathered from over 150 instructional designers from 35 institutes of higher education will be explored descriptively and inferentially.  Both theoretical and practical challenges and strategies will be explored.


The presentation will include opportunities for audience engagement and interaction. Attendees will be invited to provide further insights and feedback on strategies that have worked, or failed, at their respective institutions.  Additionally, the presentation will foster discussion of the value of pragmatic, technology based professional development versus more collaborative, transformative focused approaches.  Interactive technologies such as PollEverywhere will be used to engage attendees, and capture their insights and perspectives.  Attendees will be provided access to a digital infographic report, representing the most important findings of the study.


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2016). Online report card [Research Report]. Retrieved from

Baran, E., & Correia, A. (2014). A professional development framework for online teaching. TechTrends, 58(5), 96–102.

Cho, M. H., & Tobias, S. (2016). Should instructors require discussion in online courses? Effects of online discussion on community of inquiry, learner time, satisfaction, and achievement. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(2), 123–140. doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v17i2.2342

Dahlstrom, E., & Brooks, D. C. (2014). ECAR study of faculty and information technology [Research Report]. Louisville, CO: ECAR.  Retrieved from

Dahlstrom, E., Brooks, D. C., Grajek, S., & Reeves, J. (2015). ECAR study of students and information technology [Research Report]. Louisville, CO: ECAR.

Garrison, D. R. (2015). Thinking collaboratively. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hosler, K. A., & Arend, B. D. (2013). Strategies and principles to develop cognitive presence in online discussions. In Z. Akyol & D. R. Garrison (Eds.), Educational communities of inquiry: Theoretical framework, research, and practice (pp. 148–167). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

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Jaggars, S. S., & Xu, D. (2015). How do online course design features influence student performance? Computers & Education, 95, 270–284. doi:  10.1016/j.compedu.2016.01.014

Malik, S. K., Nasim, U., & Tabassum, F. (2015). Perceived effectiveness of professional development programs of teachers at higher education level. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(13), 169–181. Retrieved from

Meyer, K. A. & Murrell, V. S. (2014). A national survey of faculty development evaluation outcome measures and procedures. Online Learning,18(3).

Richardson, J. C., & Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(1). Retrieved from

Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J., Wendt, J., Wighting, M., & Nisbet, D. (2016). The predictive relationship among the community of inquiry framework, perceived learning and online, and graduate students’ course grades in online synchronous and asynchronous courses. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(3), 20–34. doi: 10.19173/irrodl.v17i3.2203

Webb, A. S., Wong, T. J., & Hubball, H. T. (2013). Professional development for adjunct teaching faculty in a research-intensive university: Engagement in scholarly approaches to teaching and learning. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 25(2), 231–238.

Vaughan, N. D., & Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton, AB: AU Press.

Voogt, J., Laferriére, T, Breuleux, A., Itow, R. C., Hickey, D. T., & McKenney, S. (2015). Collaborative design as a form of professional development. Instructional Science, 43, 259–282. doi: 10.1007/s11251-014-9340-7

Yang, J. C., Quadir, B., Chen, N. S., & Miao, Q. (2016). Effects of online presence on learning performance in a blog-based online course. The Internet and Higher Education, 30, 11–20. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2016.04.002