A faculty development course to enhance dental hygiene distance education: a pilot study.J Dent Educ. 2014 Sep; 78(9):1319-30.JD
This article describes the implementation and evaluation of a dental hygiene faculty development course to enhance online teaching practices that foster a sense of community and satisfaction. The sampled population was drawn from the forty-seven U.S. dental hygiene programs that the American Dental Hygienists' Association identified as offering bachelor's degree completion or master's degree programs with 76-100 percent of coursework delivered in an online format. This requirement was applied to exclude programs using hybrid instruction (combination of online and face-to-face). Of the thirty-four faculty members who self-identified as meeting the criteria, seven agreed to participate (21 percent response rate); however, only five completed all parts of the study (a final response rate of 15 percent). A Community of Inquiry framework was the basis for the author-designed Distance Education Best Practices Survey used as a pretest and posttest to assess participants' use of and perceived importance of twenty-five best practices before and after taking the online faculty development course. Frequency of use ratings ranged from 4.0 (regularly) to 5.0 (always) on a response scale from 1.0 to 5.0. The results showed significant increases from before to after the course in participants' perceptions of the importance of four practices: activities promoting relevant, lifelong learning (p=0.03); faculty communication fostering a sense of community (p=0.04); encouraging students' self-introduction (p=0.04); and encouraging productive dialogue and respecting diverse opinions (p=0.04). The findings indicate a potential value for a faculty development course designed to enhance online teaching, sense of community, and satisfaction, even for faculty members with high self-ratings regarding best practices.