May 12, 2022

Instructional Designers Improve Student Outcomes — Campus Technology

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Survey: Instructional designers improve student outcomes

Performance of online students compared to face-to-face students, with and without instructional design support (Source: CHLOE 3 Report 2019)

When professors are forced to work with instructional designers on the development of their online courses, students perform better, according to a recent survey by Quality Matters and Eduventures Research, the research arm of ACT/NRCCUA. In schools where instructional design for online course development was absent or optional, 58% of “online directors” (COOs) believed that students taking these courses would do at least as well, if not better, than those in courses. face to face ; which jumped to 70% where instructional design was mandatory.

Community colleges were the least likely to require instructional design specialists, with two-thirds (67%) reporting design support absent or optional. At the other extreme were ‘institution-wide programs’, where only 28% had no such requirements.

These findings surfaced in the third annual “Changing Landscape of Online Education” (CHLOE 3) report, which surveyed 280 COOs (up from 182 last year) at US colleges and universities about policies, practices and plans. relating to online education. The researchers defined the role of “online director” as having primary or shared responsibility for online faculty training, online instructional design and course development, coordination with academic units, online policy development, quality assurance and overall strategic planning.

Across all school types, the median number of instructional designers employed was four. Community colleges reported a median of one person in this role; four-year regional private schools had a median of four; and four-year-old regional audiences had a median of five.

Although “there appears to be a growing acceptance that instructional design expertise can help make online courses more effective”, the wider adoption of instructional design expertise “is coming up against persistent headwinds. “, especially costs and “ingrained faculty attitudes,” the report notes.

When asked why their colleges and universities made instructional design support voluntary, limited, or completely absent, one of the most common COO responses was insufficient resources, cited by 58%. The use of instructional designers “obviously [has] financial repercussions,” the report notes. But, even more surprisingly, an equally large proportion of COOs also cited faculty autonomy or academic freedom as a barrier. This predominance of faculty control over decision-making has many origins, the respondents added. the designed courses are their choice. In other places, it was highlighted as a vestige of faculty developing their face-to-face courses without input into instructional design or embarking on creating their online courses without such support and then not profiting. In other places, the “institution-wide perspective” was that instructional design was nothing more than a “push of a button” learning management system that could be done by student workers. Or there was simply a lack of administrative support for “a uniform, enforced model across the institution.”

The full report, which explores trends in online education management as well as the tools and techniques used in online programs, is available on the Quality Matters site (registration required). An earnings webinar will be held on April 11, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. EST; the event is open to members and non-members.

About the Author


Dian Schaffhauser is a former editor for educational publications at 1105 Media, THE Journal, Campus Technology, and Spaces4Learning.