A distance education case study: A comparison of instructional delivery methods practiced by higher education faculty and emerging standards

Carmeta Agatha Edwards Tate-Blake, Florida International University


The purpose of this research was to compare the delivery methods as practiced by higher education faculty teaching distance courses with recommended or emerging standard instructional delivery methods for distance education. Previous research shows that traditional-type instructional strategies have been used in distance education and that there has been no training to distance teach. Secondary data, however, appear to suggest emerging practices which could be pooled toward the development of standards. This is a qualitative study based on the constant comparative analysis approach of grounded theory. Participants (N = 5) of this study were full-time faculty teaching distance education courses. The observation method used was unobtrusive content analysis of videotaped instruction. Triangulation of data was accomplished through one-on-one in-depth interviews and from literature review. Due to the addition of non-media content being analyzed, a special time-sampling technique was designed by the researcher--influenced by content analyst theories of media-related data--to sample portions of the videotape instruction that were observed and counted. A standardized interview guide was used to collect data from in-depth interviews. Coding was done based on categories drawn from review of literature, and from Cranton and Weston's (1989) typology of instructional strategies. The data were observed, counted, tabulated, analyzed, and interpreted solely by the researcher. It should be noted however, that systematic and rigorous data collection and analysis led to credible data. The findings of this study supported the proposition that there are no standard instructional practices for distance teaching. Further, the findings revealed that of the emerging practices suggested by proponents and by faculty who teach distance education courses, few were practiced even minimally. A noted example was the use of lecture and questioning. Questioning, as a teaching tool was used a great deal, with students at the originating site but not with distance students. Lectures were given, but were mostly conducted in traditional fashion--long in duration and with no interactive component. It can be concluded from the findings that while there are no standard practices for instructional delivery for distance education, there appears to be sufficient information from secondary and empirical data to initiate some standard instructional practices. Therefore, grounded in this research data is the theory that the way to arrive at some instructional delivery standards for televised distance education is a pooling of the tacitly agreed-upon emerging practices by proponents and practicing instructors. Implicit in this theory is a need for experimental research so that these emerging practices can be tested, tried, and proven, ultimately resulting in formal standards for instructional delivery in television education.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Educational software|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Tate-Blake, Carmeta Agatha Edwards, "A distance education case study: A comparison of instructional delivery methods practiced by higher education faculty and emerging standards" (1998). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9828271.