Document Type



Doctor of Education


Education, Educational Psychology

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Theresa Coble


Carl Hoagland

Keeta Holmes

Keith Miller


The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to examine current best practices building community in online faculty development (FD). Ongoing participation in pedagogical FD is critical to teaching today due to changing technologies, pedagogical strategies, and increasing numbers of at-risk students. However, competing demands make prioritizing FD challenging. As a result, many institutions are implementing online asynchronous FD offerings. Little research exists on online offerings specifically for faculty with needs and motivations different from students. Particularly, it is important to look at social construction of knowledge through community in online asynchronous FD.

This study supplemented the scant literature by interviewing 27 online FD designers from 25 institutions in 14 of US states. This included 14 public and seven private doctoral-granting institutions and four commercial enterprises providing online FD as a service. Next, a four-week online FD course was built to explore the designer recommendations. Thirty-one faculty from 10 US states participated. Pre- and post-course surveys, course submissions, and post-course interviews were collected. Results indicated successful building of community.

Five themes were identified. 1) Participants need opportunities for deliberate practice that incorporate application, feedback, and reflection. 2) Participants seek to customize their experience to their unique backgrounds and needs. 3) Participants desire a learner-centered experience that elicits and values their contributions. 4) Community creates validation through a sense of shared practice and overcoming challenge. 5) Through engagement, community fosters perseverance to overcome barriers.

Elements critical to incorporate in online faculty development programs include deliberate practice, customizability, and a humanizing learner-centered experience. Further, it is critical to provide faculty with opportunities for validation and generation of perseverance. In addition to community in the course, faculty reported interactions outside the course contributed to their learning. Further, faculty not able to complete the course still reported application results representing growth. Therefore, as a field we need to reconsider our metrics for success and find more holistic, humanizing ways to look at both design and measurement tools for success. Results from this study may contribute to future practices in online FD and its success in improving student outcomes.