On the Recognition of Quality Online Course Design in Promotion and Tenure: A Survey of Higher Ed Institutions in the Western United States
What constitutes excellence in teaching for university faculty when they are expected or required to create quality online courses? This is a question that will increasingly be asked of members of promotion and tenure committees as market pressures demand entire degrees be delivered online. Developing a quality online course is a significant commitment in time and effort and frequently requires learning new skills and pedagogical methods. Increasingly, faculty are expected to make this commitment, yet it may not be valued in their promotion and tenure process. This study sought to determine to what extent developing a “quality” online course (one that has been reviewed to a set of standards) receives credit in the promotion and tenure (P&T) process for all ranks. A survey across multiple disciplines at 19 western universities found that only 16 percent of the departments that completed the survey specifically include the development of a quality online course in their promotion and tenure documentation. Two hundred and forty-eight departments offering online degree programs from 19 four-year research institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the western United States were invited to participate in this study. Of the 19 institutions (including New Mexico State University), 15 were peers of New Mexico State University (NMSU), with three additional non-peer Western region IHEs being invited to take an online survey. Survey takers were given the option to volunteer for a more in-depth follow-up phone interview.