Most Popular of 2015, No. 10: 5 skills of successful online faculty

According to interviewed online faculty, once the five skills are acquired, the elements that contribute to stress and job burnout among online faculty who have been teaching for several years are their “inability to handle the behavior of students who take for granted their online course requirements, the demands of students for higher grades without making extra efforts, administrators who take the side of students who complain unjustly, and administrators who compromise quality education to attract and retain students,” Portugal explains.

These stress factors “are particularly experienced by online faculty from private for-profit academic institutions, who avoid arbitration due to fear of losing their jobs,” she continues.

According to all 12 survey participants, the best way to combat these stressors is to ensure that grading rubrics are set, clarified, and agreed by the students enrolled in the course. Based on this agreement, the instructors evaluate the students’ performance based on the agreed rubrics. Rubrics also serve as the instructors’ monitoring and evaluation tool concerning the achievement of the learning course objectives.

Also, Portugal notes that “regular monitoring of faculty during the interview stage where faculty are required to complete a mock online training class, the first class assignment, and annual peer-mentoring and monitoring evaluations would be effective” in recruiting and retaining online faculty.

In addition, faculty supports such as faculty chat rooms, on-going training and mentoring in areas such as technology, software, classroom facilitation techniques, and research support in all areas of online instruction would be beneficial,” she says. “Faculty could also benefit from peer-mentoring and administration support where questions, problems, and solutions can be addressed effectively and without fear of dismissal.”

Though online teaching may seem difficult thanks to the information noted above, Portugal’s report emphasized that there are many motivating factors for online faculty: continued enhancement of technical skills; a better balance between familial roles and professional practice; personal and professional satisfaction; and the perception that the online environment offers a new perspective in teaching students.

For a more in-depth look into the study, “Work Ethic, Characteristics, Attributes, and Traits of Successful Online Faculty,” click here.

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