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Manifestations of hidden curriculum in a community college online opticianry program :
b an ecological approach
h [electronic resource] /
by Barry Hubbard.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
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Dissertation (PHD)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
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ABSTRACT: Understanding the influential factors at work within an online learning environment is a growing area of interest. Hidden or implicit expectations, skill sets, knowledge, and social process can help or hinder student achievement, belief systems, and persistence. This qualitative study investigated how hidden curricular issues transpired in an online learning environment's institutional and organization systems using an ecological paradigm. A phenomenological approach rooted in a case study context was used to explore the experiences and perceptions of a group of students, faculty, and administrators involved with an online academic program (opticianry) at a community college. Interviews, non-participant observation, and a researcher reflective journal was employed in the data collection process to better understand: 1) how organizational and institutional systems contribute to the manifestation of hidden curricular issues, 2) how differences and similarities in perceptions between students, faculty, and administrators contribute to hidden curricular issues, and 3) how hidden curriculum issues manifest in online and distance learning environments. Themes related to the first research question emerged as: 1) Accessibility/Flexibility Differences; 2) Disconnect in Conveying and Perceiving the Professional Culture; and 3) Disconnected from College; and 4) Differences in Website Usability. Themes related to the second research were reported according to each participant group (faculty, staff, and student) then compared for similarities and discrepancies. Themes in this area for the faculty group included: 1) Workload and Time, and 2) Lack of Support for Online/Distance Learning Processes. Emergent staff themes for this question included: 1) Lack of Resources, 2) Preference for Face-to-Face Interaction, 3) Academic Program Disconnect, and 4) Faculty Interference. Lastly, student themes for this area included: 1) Student Services, 2) Faculty Assistance, and 3) Limited Interaction. Finally, global hidden curricular issues associated with institutional and organizational systems related to this case study manifested in the forms of: 1) Support Functions, 2) Advocacy, and 3) Conveying the Profession.
Advisor: James White, Ph.D.
x Secondary Education
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Manifestations of Hidden Curriculum in a Community College Online Opticianry Program: An Ecological Approach by Barry Hubbard A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Secondary Education College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: James White, Ph.D. Glenn Smith, Ph.D. Robert Sullins, Ed.D. Stephen Thornton, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 26, 2010 Keywords: Distance Education, Online Learning, Impl icit Curriculum, Ecology, Phenomenology, Case Study Copyright 2010, Barry Hubbard
Table of Contents List of Tables .................................... ................................................... ............................... v List of Figures ................................... ................................................... .............................. vi Abstract .......................................... ................................................... ................................ vii Chapter One: Introduction ......................... ................................................... ...................... 1 Problem Statement ....................... ................................................... .......................... 1 Purpose of Study ........................ ................................................... ............................ 2 Research Questions ...................... ................................................... .......................... 4 Method .................................. ................................................... ................................. 4 Limitations/Delimitations ............... ................................................... ....................... 6 Definition of Terms...................... ................................................... .......................... 6 Conclusion .............................. ................................................... ............................... 8 Chapter Two: Literature Review .................... ................................................... ............... 10 Defining Hidden Curriculum .............. ................................................... ................. 10 Hidden Curriculum in K-12 Settings ...... ................................................... ............. 12 Hidden Curriculum in Higher Education ... ................................................... .......... 16 Hidden Curriculum in Distance and Online Learning Environments ..................... 19 Implicit Messages through Media ......... ................................................... ............... 23 Classroom and Campus Ecology ............ ................................................... ............. 25 Categorization of Literature and Research .................................................. ........... 34 Conclusion .............................. ................................................... ............................. 41 Chapter Three: Method ............................. ................................................... ..................... 42 Introducation ........................... ................................................... ............................. 42 Research Design.......................... ................................................... ......................... 43 Research Questions ...................... ................................................... ........................ 45 Data Collection ......................... ................................................... ........................... 45 Sample......................... ................................................... ............................... 46 Setting ....................... ................................................... ................................. 47 Semi-Structured Interviews .... ................................................... ................... 47 Non-Participant Observation ... ................................................... .................. 49 Researcher Reflective Journal ................................................... ................... 49 Data Reduction, Coding, and Analysis .... ................................................... ............ 50 Validation .................... ................................................... ............................... 52 Ethics................................... ................................................... ................................. 53 Research Plan ........................... ................................................... ............................ 53
ii Conclusion .............................. ................................................... ............................. 54 Chapter Four: Results ............................. ................................................... ....................... 56 Introduction ............................ ................................................... .............................. 56 Case Setting ............................ ................................................... ............................. 58 Data Collection and Analysis............. ................................................... .................. 59 Sample................................... ................................................... ............................... 60 Question #1: Organizational and Instituti onal Systems ...................................... .... 65 Recruitment and Admissions .... ................................................... ................. 65 Accessibility and Flexibility D ifferences ........................................ .............. 67 Professional Culture and Practi ces ............................................... ................. 73 Subjective Views/Connection ... ................................................... ................. 76 Rules and Procedures .......... ................................................... ....................... 82 Differences in Online/Web Usabi lity .............................................. .............. 83 Question #2: Differences and Similarities in Perceptions ................................... ... 85 Faculty Themes ................ ................................................... .......................... 86 Time ................ ................................................... ................................. 86 Lack of Support for O nline/Distance Learning Processes ................. 87 Staff Themes .................. ................................................... ............................ 88 Lack of Resources ... ................................................... ......................... 88 Preference for Face-t o-Face Interaction ................................ .............. 89 Academic Program Disc onnect ............................................ ............... 90 Faculty Interference ................................................... ......................... 91 Student Themes ................ ................................................... .......................... 93 Student Services .... ................................................... ........................... 93 Faculty Assistance .. ................................................... ......................... 96 Limited Interaction.. ................................................... ......................... 98 Differences and Similarities in Perceptions ...................................... ............ 99 Question #3:Manifestations of Online Hidd en Curriculum .................................. 10 2 Support Functions ............. ................................................... ....................... 102 Advocacy ...................... ................................................... ........................... 103 Conveying the Profession ...... ................................................... .................. 104 Conclusion .............................. ................................................... ........................... 105 Chatper Five: Discussion .......................... ................................................... ................... 108 Introduction ............................ ................................................... ............................ 108 Summary of Study ........................ ................................................... ..................... 109 Research Question #1 .................... ................................................... .................... 111 Accessibility/Flexibility Diffe rences ............................................ .............. 112 Disconnect in Conveying and Per ceiving the Professional Culture ........... 114 Disconnect from College ....... ................................................... .................. 115 Differences in Website Usabilit y ................................................. ............... 117 Research Question #2 .................... ................................................... .................... 118 Faculty Perceptions ........... ................................................... ....................... 119 Staff Perceptions ............. ................................................... ......................... 120 Student Perceptions ........... ................................................... ....................... 122
iii Triangulation of Perceptions .. ................................................... .................. 124 Research Questions #3 ................... ................................................... .................... 126 Support Functions ............. ................................................... ....................... 127 Advocacy ...................... ................................................... ........................... 127 Conveying the Profession ...... ................................................... .................. 128 Limitations ............................. ................................................... ............................ 129 Implications............................. ................................................... ........................... 131 Practice ...................... ................................................... ............................... 131 Questions Raised .............. ................................................... ........................ 132 Future Research ............... ................................................... ........................ 134 Conclusion .............................. ................................................... ........................... 136 List of References ................................ ................................................... ........................ 138 Appendices ........................................ ................................................... ........................... 146 Appendix A: Interview Protocols ......... ................................................... ............. 147 Appendix B: Email Solicitation for Partic ipation ........................................... ...... 150 Appendix C: Informed Consent to Participa te in Research .................................. 1 52 Appendix D: Member Check Form ........... ................................................... ........ 158 Appendix E: Peer Reviewer/Outside Reviewe r Form .......................................... 1 59 Appendix F: Description of Institution an d Academic Program .......................... 160 Appendix G: Researcher Reflective Journal Sample ........................................... 162 Appendix H: Interview Transcription Sampl e ................................................. ..... 164 About the Author .................................. ................................................... .............. End Page
iv List of Tables Table 2.1 Comparison of Ahola (2000) and Anders on (2002) ..................................... 22 Table 2.2 Transferability of Strange and Bannin g (2002) to Distance and Online Environments .................. ................................................... ........................... 33 Table 3.1 Research Timeline and Tasks ......... ................................................... ........... 54 Table 4.1 Sample Population by Type, Age, Gende r, and Ethnicity/Race ................... 62 Table 4.2 Comparison of Sample Population to Co llege and Academic Program Population .................... ................................................... .............................. 64
v List of Figures Figure 2.1 Bronfrenbrenner (1977, 1995) Ecologi cal Systems Theory ........................ 27 Figure 2.2 Pascarella and Terenzini (1991/2002) Model of College Influence on Student Learning .......... ................................................... ........................ 29 Figure 2.3 Domains and Outcomes of Hidden Curri culum in Online Learning Environments ................. ................................................... ........................... 40 Figure 3.1 Auerbach and SilversteinÂ’s (2003) Si x Steps for Constructing a Theoretical Narrative from Tex t ................................................. ................. 52
vi Manifestations of Hidden Curriculum in a Community College Online Opticianry Program: An Ecological Approach Barry Hubbard ABSTRACT Understanding the influential factors at work with in an online learning environment is a growing area of interest. Hidden o r implicit expectations, skill sets, knowledge, and social process can help or hinder st udent achievement, belief systems, and persistence. This qualitative study investigate d how hidden curricular issues transpired in an online learning environmentÂ’s inst itutional and organization systems using an ecological paradigm. A phenomenological ap proach rooted in a case study context was used to explore the experiences and per ceptions of a group of students, faculty, and administrators involved with an online academic program (opticianry) at a community college. Interviews, non-participant obse rvation, and a researcher reflective journal was employed in the data collection process to better understand: 1) how organizational and institutional systems contribute to the manifestation of hidden curricular issues, 2) how differences and similarit ies in perceptions between students, faculty, and administrators contribute to hidden cu rricular issues, and 3) how hidden curriculum issues manifest in online and distance l earning environments. Themes related to the first research question emer ged as: 1) Accessibility/Flexibility Differences; 2) Disconnec t in Conveying and Perceiving the
vii Professional Culture; and 3) Disconnected from Coll ege; and 4) Differences in Website Usability. Themes related to the second research we re reported according to each participant group (faculty, staff, and student) the n compared for similarities and discrepancies. Themes in this area for the faculty group included: 1) Workload and Time, and 2) Lack of Support for Online/Distance Learning Processes. Emergent staff themes for this question included: 1) Lack of Resources, 2 ) Preference for Face-to-Face Interaction, 3) Academic Program Disconnect, and 4) Faculty Interference. Lastly, student themes for this area included: 1) Student S ervices, 2) Faculty Assistance, and 3) Limited Interaction. Finally, global hidden curricu lar issues associated with institutional and organizational systems related to this case stu dy manifested in the forms of: 1) Support Functions, 2) Advocacy, and 3) Conveying th e Profession.
1 Chapter One Introduction Â“Teachers and school curricula have always had cogn itive agendas that have remained hidden from the learner, the supposed beneficiary of the cognitive goals of instruction.Â” Marfo, Mulcahy, Peat, Andrews, & Cho (1991, p. 81) Problem Statement Learning environments have long been examined to un derstand the full effects of how they act on shaping educational and other devel opmental aspects of those who experience them (Jackson, 1968; Apple, 1980; Eisner 2002; Snyder, 1970; Tyler, 1969). The concept of a hidden curriculum was developed to refer to the unspoken or implicit values, behaviors, procedures, and norms that exist in the educational setting. While such expectations are not explicitly written or communic ated in formal documentation, hidden curriculum is the unstated promotion and enforcemen t of certain behavioral patterns, professional standards, and social beliefs while na vigating a learning environment. Once hidden curriculum is revealed, it is then able to b e negotiated, manipulated, and changed which can ease learner transition, promote empowerm ent, increase academic achievement, inform practice, and guide design. Hid den curriculum that remains elusive or veiled can have a negative impact on the learnin g process and overall educational experience. In Distance Education, hidden curriculum can take o n different meanings and possess distinct implications due to the uniqueness of the environment, tools, and
2 resources involved. Anderson (2002) states that due to the distinctive components involved with distance education such as multimedia computer-mediated environments, learning/course management systems, and electronic communication modes, a new context is created with the possible existence of n ew issues as they relate to hidden curriculum. Understanding how the hidden curriculum plays itself out in online learning and distance education environments is an important step in the advancement of distance education practices and the field of instructional technology. Purpose of Study The purpose of this study is to better understand t he ways in which hidden curriculum manifests in distance education learning environments from an ecological standpoint. While hidden curriculum has been discus sed and studied in K-12 and higher education learning environments, a clear need exist s to compare applicability and/or determine new representations of the principles dis covered in the face-to-face settings. Distance learning courses and those who act within them require in-depth study to fully understand how hidden curricular issues transpire ( Anderson, 2002). Communication practices and modes have been identified as signifi cant conduits for hidden curricular issues in other studies. Jackson (1968) concluded t hat students must learn and comply with the implicit expectations communicated within a classroom before they can focus on subject matter content. Snyder (1970) conducted stu dies on hidden curriculum at MIT and Wellesley College to help explain the reasons b ehind campus unrest and student anxiety. He asserted that unspoken academic and soc ial norms significantly contributed to the dropping out of students and prevented the d evelopment of creative and independent thinking. Alessi and Trollip (2001) hav e discussed the presence of cultural
3 bias in the design and development process. They ca ution designers to be aware of their own cultural and stereotypical roles ( language and references ) and how it can be infused into the educational environment. Media and other symbolic representations have been found to communicate implicit messages. Chandler (2002) found that since online environments are highly constructed, purposeful, and mediated environments, the implications of how language, culture, feelings, ideas, and thoughts play out thr ough signs and symbols used is important. Both the presence and absence of symboli c representations can affect how learners make meaning and construct knowledge. Horn (2003) observed that media carries hidden or implicit messages and that those using media need to be aware of the implications. Kwak (2004) documented the power of t he media to shape societal norms and influence perceptions and behavior of cultural groups such as African Americans and Asians. Media serves as an outlet for concerns, int erests, ideals, attitudes, and beliefs. Using an ecological perspective will assist in und erstanding the environmental influences and factors that may attribute to the ma nifestation of hidden curricular issues. Various theories exist describing and organizing th e process and agents that act within classroom and campus settings (Bronfenbrenner, 1977 /1995; Bowers & Flinders, 1990; Moos, 1974, 1979; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991/2005 ; Strange & Banning, 2001; Young, 2004). The constructivist viewpoint tells us that l earning environments can shape the educational and learning experiences of learner dep ending upon how and what the student interacts with while in the environment (Re iser and Dempsey, 2007). The extent to which these issues and viewpoints are applicable and transferable to an online or distance learning environment has yet to be thoroug hly described and explained.
4 Additionally, due to the vastness of possible issue s and to keep the scope of the project manageable, it was prudent to focus on one aspect o f the distance learning environment. The literature provides insight into the possible i ssues and ways in which hidden curricular issues could manifest in a distance lear ning environment; however, an empirically-based study is needed to better underst and how by conducting in-depth interviews with the agents involved and providing d etailed insight into the institutional and organization dimensions of the learning environ ment. Furthermore, the concept of hidden curriculum used in this study is contemporar y and holistic in nature to include collateral issues and environments both in and out of the classroom such as institutional policies, procedures, processes, and resources. Research Questions This study explored how hidden curricular issues ma nifest in distance learning program by using an ecological lens to focus on org anizational and institutional systems. The following questions were explored: How do organizational and institutional systems con tribute to the manifestation of hidden curricular issues? How do differences and similarities in perceptions between students, faculty, and administrators contribute to hidden curricular issu es? How does hidden curriculum manifest in online and d istance learning environments? Method Discovering hidden or implicit phenomena that exist and act within a distance education environment requires a research approach aimed at exposing how a learner
5 assigns meaning when he or she interacts with the v arious elements present within the environment (e.g. text, graphics, policies, interac tion, symbols, content, people, etc.). Many hidden curricular issues are the result of ass umptions and expectations that are not formally communicated, established, or conveyed wit hin the learning environment. Schutz (1967), as cited in Rubin and Rubin (2005), states that cultural lenses are Â“taken for grantedÂ” and invisible to most. The researcher must ask questions related to the Â“every dayÂ” dealings or ordinary events to begin to understand and learn about the culture. This helps to articulate an issue related to hidden curriculum; that implicit norms, expectations, and other manifestations may be diffi cult to identify by the researchers and participants because they are so engrained into the culture and day-to-day activities. Awareness of hidden curricular issues becomes a con sideration which has direct implication on how to conduct research on the topic Questions cannot be directly asked about specific aspects of hidden curriculum because they may not even be apparent and understandable to the participants or will not be b road enough to encompass all the possible issues at hand. Furthermore, the issue exp lored in this study is contemporary, broad, and unable to be controlled by the investiga tor, so it warrants using Â“howÂ” or Â“whyÂ” questions to help gain understanding into the phenomenon (Yin, 1994). For these reasons, the qualitative methodology best fit the need for exploring hidden curricular issues in online learning environ ments. A phenomenological methodology was employed, coupled with a case study analysis, to unearth the lived experiences of students, faculty, and staff associa ted with an opticianry academic program that is facilitated online and at a distanc e.
6 Limitations/Delimitations Anderson (2002) advocated that future research on h idden curriculum in distance and online learning environments will require a qua litative approach; however, with such a methodological approach comes certain limitations /delimitations. The study is limited by its small, purposeful sample which does not make the findings generalizable to the larger population. Additionally, the purposeful sam ple could leave out different perspectives and voices. The population to be studi ed is limited to an academic program at a large community college. Demographic informati on or variables are not being studied and therefore not being controlled or consi dered. The role of the qualitative researcher requires awa reness and disclosure of any personal beliefs and values. To avoid bias and ensu re validity of the conclusions, an outside expert in qualitative analysis will be used to verify coding, rich, thick description will be used to support findings, members will be c onsulted to verify accuracy of the interviews, and a researcher reflective journal wil l be kept throughout the data collection process. Semi-structured interviews will be conduct ed using open-ended questions allowing interviewees to freely express their exper iences and viewpoints. Definition of Terms Campus Ecology : Â“The study of the relationship between the studen t and the campus environmentÂ… the influence of environments o n students and students on environmentsÂ…the transactional relationship between students and their environmentÂ” (Banning, 1978, p. 5).
7 Case Study : The qualitative study of a bounded system (settin g or context) that has more than 1 person in it with the purpose of un derstanding an event, activity, system, and/or program (Creswell, 2007). Classroom Ecology : Environmental factors and practices transmitted w ithin an educational classroom setting such as language proc esses and cultural patterns that affect behavior, attitudes, learning, beliefs, and perform ance (Bowers & Flinders, 1990). Distance Education : Â“Planned learning that normally occurs in a diffe rent place from teaching, requiring special course design and instruction techniques, communication through various technologies, and special organizat ional and administrative agreementsÂ” (Moore & Kearsley, 2005, p. 2). Ecology : Concept used to represent the study of organism-e nvironment interaction. Hidden Curriculum : Unstated promotion and enforcement of certain beh avioral patterns, professional standards, and social belief s while navigating a learning environment and/or experience; that which is uninte ntionally conveyed or taught in an educational system (Miller & Seller, 1990). Institutional/Organization Systems: complexity and cultural press of a learning environment on a student, both in and outside of th e classroom, to include but not limited to rules, procedures, regulations, level of efficie ncy, morale, attitudes, climate, complexity, distribution of power, and accessibilit y. Learning Management System (LMS) : An online system that is mediated electronically and allows for interaction, the deli very of content, management of resources, and assessment of learning (often often database-driven and secure).
8 Online Learning : Electronically mediated form of education usually facilitated through a computer that utilizes various forms of t echnology and media (also referred to as e-Learning, computer-based learning, computer-ba sed training). Phenomenology : The qualitative examination a group of people who have experienced a common or shared issue or phenomenon; an Â“objectÂ” of human experience (Creswell, 2007). Semiotics : Study of signs or symbols and their perceived mea ning by others (Chandler, 2002). Socio-Cultural : Issues or characteristics relating to the social and cultural practices, beliefs, paradigms, lenses, and traditio ns of a group or segment of society. Web-Portal : A web-site that presents information from differe nt sources in an integrated manner (often database-driven, secure, a nd customizable). Web-Site : A collection of content-related HTML-based/writte n web pages that are usually hosted on a common server and most commonly access through the Internet. Conclusion Chapter 1 provided an overview of the need for this research and briefly introduced significant concepts related to hidden c urriculum and ecology. Understanding how the various socio-cultural aspects of distance and online learning environments function can have significant implications to the f ields of instructional technology and distance education. The next chapter will provide an in-depth overview of the significant and relevant literature related to hidden curriculum and classro om and campus ecology. Various contexts such as K-12, higher education, and distan ce education are reviewed. The
9 chapter concludes with a grouping of the literature thematically into categories to assist with operationalizing the study.
10 Chapter Two Literature Review This section will provide an overview of the litera ture on hidden curriculum and classroom and campus ecology. The evolution of hidd en curriculum as a concept and the nature of implicit messages will be explored as it relates to various contexts and settings such as K-12 education, higher education, online le arning environments, and media. A brief definition and overview of several classroom and campus ecological models will then be presented to provide a framework for consid ering how hidden curricular issues could categorically manifest. Lastly, a delineation of the literature into the various ecological categories based on the given models wil l be offered to assist in operationalizing the study. Defining Hidden Curriculum The concept of a hidden curriculum was developed to refer to the unspoken or implicit values, behaviors, and norms that exist in the educational setting. While such expectations are not explicitly written or communic ated in formal documentation, hidden curriculum is the unstated promotion and enforcemen t of certain behavioral patterns, professional standards, and social beliefs while na vigating a learning environment and/or experience. In a broader sense, hidden curriculum c an be that which is unintentionally conveyed or taught in an educational system (Miller & Seller, 1990). Once hidden curriculum is revealed, it is then able to be negot iated, manipulated, and changed which
11 can ease learner transition, promote empowerment, i ncrease academic achievement, inform practice, and guide design. The literature has had some debate about the word Â“ hiddenÂ” and its appropriateness in this context (Vallance, 1973). S ome have argued that the word suggests intentional or purposeful harm on the part of the educator while others state that it only represents a descriptor for that which is n ot revealed or apparent (Cornbleth ,1984; Margolis, 2001). For the purpose of this study, the term hidden is used in the latter sense and meaning of the word. It is not the assumption t hat hidden curriculum is the result of premeditated ill intent; that faculty or teachers a re purposefully withholding or hiding information, materials, or expectations from studen ts. It is used in this context, like many others, to represent the unintentional or the unawa re. Other words such as implicit, embedded, or unspoken could be used instead; howeve r, a case could likely be made that all similar descriptors could imply a negative conn otation. additionally, the use of the word has, for the most part, been established in th e lexicon of the educational cannon and poses a recognizable concept. Furthermore, it is important to note that discussio ns and research on hidden curriculum have mainly focused on negative outcomes or consequences; however, limited reference has been made to possible positiv e results (Eisner, 2002). This study will mainly focus on the possible negative issues r elated to hidden curriculum but will report on any significant findings, negative or pos itive. Lastly, the study uses the concept of hidden curriculum in a broad sense as seen in co ntemporary literature on the subject. Peripheral and adjunct systems or environments foun d within the educational setting are in need of consideration and examination due to the ir influence and ability to shape
12 student attitudes, behaviors, achievement, and perf ormance. This study uses the term hidden curriculum to include both classroom and ins titutional processes or agents that can manifest implicitly. Hidden Curriculum in K-12 Settings The concept of hidden curriculum mainly grew out of the literature on K-12 educational environments. Dewey (1948) discussed ho w oneÂ’s experiences in the educational system can positively or negative shape oneÂ’s growth. His concept of collateral learning those experiences or notions not related to subje ct matter or formal education objectives, speaks to the ability of an e nvironment to convey messages and information which can contour future attitudes, beh aviors, and beliefs. In GordonÂ’s (1957) book, The Social System of High School an early formation of the concept was seen. The educational experiences of students are s haped and closely related to that of their greater social status in a community. Those w hose families had greater influence and power in the community had easier times navigat ing and negotiating the school environment compared to those who had less social c apital. The earliest direct reference to the term, hidden c urriculum, is accredited to Philip Jackson (1968). In his book, Life in Classrooms he stated that before students can focus on learning subject matter content, they must first understand when and how to defer to the authority of the teacher, the system of learnin g, and the teacherÂ’s assessment of what constitutes progress. Jackson argued that the educa tional process includes a covert socialization practice that is not formally outline d but necessary to be successful. Students are required to conform and comply with ex pectations such as attentiveness, punctuality, and compliance; however, such expectat ions are not a part of the explicit
13 curricular goals and standards. Those who learn to comply with these expectations will be more successful compared to those who do not comply Dreeben (1968) also argued that the educational system can influence and shape how students perceive themselves in terms of social relationships and identity. Certain norms and values are conveyed to students which assists in the formation of what it means to achieve and be independent in society. Scholars expanded upon the idea of hidden curriculu m to include factors such as economic class, labor preparation, social privilege race, and gender (Apple, 1980, 1982; Giroux, 1978, 1981; Grant, 1992; Thorne, 1993). A n umber of critical theorists explored the issue of hidden curriculum and how it affected children in the K-12 system. Giroux (1978, 1981) argued that student achievement and le arning is based more on the constructs and power relationships found in the sch ool setting rather than the formal curricular goals put forth. Students who are not ab le to function in an environment where they have influence over their own educational path will result in poor achievement and the sustained social oppression of minority groups. Anyon (1980) observed fifth grade classrooms from v arious social classes (lower, middle, and elite) and found differences in ways cl assroom instruction was conducted between the groups. Students from lower socio-econo mic backgrounds were less challenged and tracked into educational programs th at were designed to produce lower to mid working class skill sets and dispositions (obed ient, docile). Those from higher socioeconomic conditions were more often rewarded, chall enged, and tracked into educational programs that were designed to prepare them for wor k in higher occupational positions
14 (managerial, college-prep). While all settings had explicit curricular objectives in the same subject areas, the approaches, experiences, an d outcomes were vastly different. Apple (1980, 1982) argued that schools mirror socie tyÂ’s social strata and that hidden curriculum practices assisted with maintaini ng such class structures. Lower-class students were taught skills that would prepare them for unskilledlabor jobs while upperclass students were taught skills and dispositions that required critical thought and creativity which lent themselves to management and skilled-labor positions. Apple argued that schools had the opportunity to act as a counter-agent by acknowledging this form of hidden curriculum and using it to help elev ate marginalized groups. Communication and person-to-person interactions are not the only focus of hidden curriculum research. How other elements with in the educational environment interact with and act upon the inhabitants have als o been studied. Wren (1999) explored how symbolic aspects and representations found with in the culture of the school setting, such as documents (handbooks, announcements, poster s, mission statements, newsletters, reports), ceremonies, rules, field trips, and polic ies, establish expectations and values including. Such artifacts can promote inclusion or exclusion, depending on the messages conveyed and interpreted by students. Implicit messages and values can also be represente d in the very content and materials being used to achieve the explicit goals and objectives (Eisner, 2002; Vallance, 1973). Diagrams, illustrations, language, character s, and reward systems carry associations, customs, and viewpoints which can inf luence understanding and shape attitudes. The absence of women as referents in a l iterature passage on the medical profession can instill beliefs that only men should pursue a job in that particular field. Or
15 a picture book depicting a story about a person suc ceeding at sports with no ethnic or racial minority representations could mean that onl y white/Caucasian people should be considered as athletes. Furthermore, Eisner (2002) argues that schools can instill in students the need for competitiveness, even at the cost of defeating anot her (through sports, educational games, ranking achievement). This can then influence the p erception of oneÂ’s personal ability and even self-worth by dividing and tracking studen ts into special groups (honors, special need, advanced placement). Schools can influence wh at subjects are deemed important based on the amount of time spent studying the subj ect. Elective status and less time on physical education, art, music could translate into diminished value of the discipline. This argument relates to NoddingsÂ’ (1992) assertions tha t students are not able to choose content of interest to them; instead curriculum and subject matter is prescribed and forced upon them which can affect performance and attitude s toward learning. Furthermore, schools should use their influence to instill a sen se of caring versus competitiveness and achievement. This would require institutions to mak e personal connections between and among all those involved in the learning process an d to use the curriculum to model and develop attitudes and skills to achieve this goal. Lastly, it is important to mention EisnerÂ’s concept of the null curriculum due to its close relationship to the idea of hidden curric ulum. The null curriculum constitutes that which is not taught or mentioned in intellectu al processes and subject matter. The exclusion of certain topics, representations, exper iences, and/or values can also propagate implicit messages and expectations. Flinders, Noddi ngs, and Thornton (1986) also explored the notion of null curriculum and its conc eptual applicability and utility to the
16 field of curriculum study and development. They con cluded while the concept is challenging to specifically delineate, its relevanc e is valid. Most of the literature on hidden curriculum in the K-12 arena has focused on specific phenomena (socio-political influences, sub ject areas) or affected groups (race, gender). Frameworks or models have not been produce d to empirically explain in a more systematic way how hidden curricular issues may man ifest. Portelli (1993) identified four themes related to how hidden curriculum has been re garded in the K-12 literature: 1) unofficial expectations; 2) unintended learning out comes; 3) implicit messages as a result of the structure of schooling; and 4) student-creat ed expectations. Although this does not represent a comprehensive framework, it does provid e a categorical means to conceptualize how hidden curriculum has been discus sed in K-12 settings. Hidden Curriculum in Higher Education While much of the research and discussion on the hi dden curriculum has been related to the K-12 educational environment, the co ncept has also been explored in higher education settings. A distinction is made between t he two educational settings in this literature review due to the unique environmental f actors and differences present in each (population, socio-political players, choice of att ending, funding structures, etc.). Shortly after JacksonÂ’s (1968) publication, Snyder (1970) c onducted studies on hidden curriculum at MIT and Wellesley College to help exp lain the reasons behind campus unrest and student anxiety. He asserted that unspok en academic and social norms significantly contributed to the dropping out of st udents and prevented the development of creative and independent thinking.
17 Bergenhenegouwen (1987) observed that the universit y operates to socialize students in four ways: 1) to distance oneÂ’s self so as to become detached or emotionless toward the area of study in order to prevent bias; 2) to become familiar with the professionÂ’s terminology, concepts, and ways of con duct; 3) to put up a front of selfassurance and confidence regarding their area of st udy and expertise; and 4) to recognize and appreciate the satisfaction gained from achieve ment. He argues, Â“The hidden curriculum in university can be described as the wh ole of informal and implicit demands of study and study achievements that are to be met for someone to complete units of study. The teachers' informal demands are made part ly consciously and partly unconsciouslyÂ” (pp. 536-537). BergenhenegouwenÂ’s vi ew primarily focuses on experiences and influential factors that transpire through the classroom between faculty and student. Aspects such as co-curricular activiti es, organizational structures, and sociocultural dimensions are not explored. Margolis and Romero (1998) used BergenhenegouwenÂ’s work to explain the environmental demands present on students in a soci ology graduate program. They found a covert reproduction and perpetuation of oppressiv e societal attitudes and actions within the departmentÂ’s policies, expectations, and overal l climate toward minority racial, ethnic, and gender groups. Margolis (2001) later co mpiled a collection of works related to the hidden curriculum found in higher education which ranged from navigating graduate advising process (Acker, 2001) to the pres ence of perpetuating social stratification in professional school through the p rogramsÂ’ admissions processes (Costello, 2001). Various topics were presented to demonstrate the wide range of agents
18 at play, not only within the classroom, but from ad ministrative and other systems within the entire educational context. Although not explicitly classified as a hidden curr icular issue, BiglanÂ’s (1973) taxonomy outlines the ways in which academic discip lines are similar and different in their behavioral patterns and general ethos. He fou nd that vast differences exist with regard to presentation style, approach to intellect ual investigation, and reliance on other fields to support research endeavors. He concludes that scholars in varying disciplines have different ways of looking at the same issue or phenomena. Also, Donald (2002) explored in her book, Learning to Think how each academic discipline embodies and promotes different thinking practices, knowledge pa radigms, and characteristics. Institutions, departments, and faculty convey these expectations and traditions to students in both explicit and implicit ways. This idea suppo rts other work done on hidden curricular issues found in higher education setting s (Ahola, 2000; Bergenhenegouwen, 1987; Margolis & Romero, 1998). Ahola (2000) developed a hidden curriculum model fo r the higher education setting based on the work of Bergenhenegouwen (1987 ) and Margolis and Romero (1998). Although not empirically tested, he argued that hidden curriculum in higher education settings can be categorized into four dim ensions. The first dimension, Learning to Learn entails the assumption that students are adequate ly prepared to navigate the demands of the higher education academic landscape. Although students arrive at institutions of higher learning with many years of schooling, the culture and expectations of higher education pose new challenges and demands that can be quite different than previous experiences causing students to learn new strategies and roles as a learner. The
19 second dimension, Learning the Profession speaks to discipline-specific expectations and nuances that students must come to understand a nd model. This dimension possesses a relationship to BiglanÂ’s (1973) taxonomy and Dona ldÂ’s (2002) work on how each discipline embodies different thinking practices an d characteristics. The next dimension, Learning to be an Expert involves learning how to think scientifically and adhering to the traditions of the academy. The last dimension is titled Learning the Game which Ahola states is the most profound of the four. This aspect states that students must learn various social expectations or rules that reside wi thin a educational environment and understand how to negotiate them effectively. The literature on hidden curriculum in higher educa tion settings has largely focused on how environmental influences shape and c ondition students to be agents of an academic discipline and profession. Some work has e xplored how implicit organizational processes and administrative complexities affect th e success and persistence of students. Lastly, socio-cultural issues dealing with race, et hnicity, gender, and socio-economic status have been mentioned, although to a lesser ex tent. Hidden Curriculum in Distance and Online Learning E nvironments In Distance Education, hidden curriculum can possib ly take on different meanings and possess distinct implications due to the unique ness of the environment, tools, and resources involved. Understanding how the hidden cu rriculum plays itself out in online learning and distance education environments is an important step in the advancement of the instructional technology field. Examining the e nvironmental factors present in online environments will help provide additional insight i nto the ways in which hidden curricular issues could manifest.
20 As seen in the literature thus far, interaction is a key element in hidden curriculum. Moore (1989) describes ways in which pa rticipants within an online learning environment can interact: learner-content, learnerinstructor, learner-learner, and learnerinterface. All of these interactions provide opport unities for the learner to create meaning, construct knowledge, and establish beliefs. Such ex changes set the stage for expectations, interpretations, and assumptions based on how the s tudent interacts with the various elements present within the environment. Learners i n online and distance education settings are, like in face-to-face situations, nego tiating their encounters with content, instructors, and other students which allows for th e manifestation of hidden curricular issues. Feenberg and Bellman (1990) have discussed how dist ance and online education has moved away from an industrial model to a more c ritical approach where there are opportunities for mediated communication and a grow ing focus on the socio-cultural context and presence in the learning environment. T he location, arrangement, and functionality of the online learning environmentÂ’s communication features all influence the effectiveness of group communication just as wo uld the placement of chairs, tables, and other physical structures in a face to face env ironment. Culture and the social shaping of an individual als o plays an important role in the manifestation of hidden curriculum. Alessi and Trol lip (2001) discuss the presence of cultural bias in the instructional design and devel opment process. They caution designers to be aware of their own cultural and stereotypical roles ( language and references ) and how they can be infused into such elements as the u ser interface, content, and overall design architecture. The use of metaphor in design choices can mean different things to
21 different people. Symbols and punctuation can have different meanings and functions across different cultures and countries which can l ead to different interpretations. Additionally, they discuss how the use or non-use o f pronouns (gender bias) or names (racial bias) to describe characters or people in a certain kind of jobs can imply roles or expectations. Using the elements related to distance education en vironments, Anderson (2002) attempted to construct an online learning hidden cu rriculum model by translating AholaÂ’s (2000) framework. He stated that due to the unique components involved with distance education such as multimedia, computer-mediated env ironments, learning/course management systems, and communication modes, a new context is created with the possible existence of new issues as they relate to hidden curriculum. The same categories from AholaÂ’s model are used to outline the ways in which hidden curriculum can manifest ( learning to learn, learning the profession, learnin g to be an expert, and learning the game ); however the descriptions in each category were m odified to account for the components and considerations listed above. Table 2.1 provides an overview of AndersonÂ’s assertions as compared to AholaÂ’s origin al model. While insightful, AndersonÂ’s model lacks empirical support and possibly leaves out other factors that are unique to the online lea rning experience. His argument focuses heavily on access/usability concerns and communicat ion avenues and excludes much of the socio-cultural aspects seen in the literature p reviously. While the issues raised are relevant and important factors, the use of AholaÂ’s categories and overall framework has proven problematic by its limited ability to illust rate a more comprehensive picture.
22 Table 2.1 Comparison of Ahola (2000) and Anderson (2002) Ahola (2000) Anderson (2002) Learning to Learn How do students learn to be a student? How do students learn how to study and learn? Does the elearner know how to use the technology involved? Does the elearner know how to pace and structure her or himself? Learning the Profession How do students learn their disciplineÂ’s practices? How do students learn their professionÂ’s practices? How can elearners interact with others to learn the fieldÂ’s values and norms? How can elearning opportunities be afforded to life-long learners? Learning to be an Expert How do students learn scientific practices? How do students learn to navigate the academy? How can expertise be effectively communicated or displayed? How can expertise be defended? Learning the Game How do students learn the Â“rulesÂ” or acquire information about the environment? How do student learn to Â“playÂ” or negotiate in the environment? How can elearners confer with other students to learn the Â“rules?Â” How can elearners be supported by campus resources and contacts? the socio-cultural aspects seen in the literature p reviously. While the issues raised are relevant and important factors, the use of AholaÂ’s categories and overall framework has proven problematic by its limited ability to illust rate a more comprehensive picture. This is due to the exclusion of a systematic study expla ining how the process of hidden curriculum is fully represented. Furthermore, the r esearch upon which the model is derived looked mainly at classroom interactions and relationships (instructor-student and classroom-student). Other affective considerations such as the organizational or administrative processes involved in higher educati on, the institutional/campus culture,
23 and an individualÂ’s constructed meaning of the lear ning environment are not considered in his model. Implicit Messages through Media Since online and distance learning endeavors often use computer mediated environments and a significant amount of multimedia to facilitate learning experiences, it is prudent to present literature on how such settin gs and tools (web-based environments, text, video, images, etc.) can carry and transmit i mplicit messages. As mentioned previously, online and computer mediated environmen ts use metaphor to represent various symbolic elements (Alessi & Trollip, 2001). Semiotics is the study of signs or symbols and their perceived meaning by others (Chan dler, 2002). Both the presence and absence of symbolic representations could have effe ct on how learners make meaning and construct knowledge. For example, the use of a metaphor to represent navigation, content, or other representational artifacts found in online learning environments could be familiar to some while indiscernible to others. Do the user controls for a media player incorporate play, stop, and pause symbols that are known to all of the users? How can navigation (home page, exit/logout, advance, go bac k) and layout of the learning environment be graphically represented to account f or all user interpretations? Since online environments are highly constructed, purpose ful, and mediated environments, the implications of how language, culture, feelings, id eas, and thoughts play out through the signs and symbols used is an important consideratio n of hidden curriculum and online learning environments. Related to semiotics, Luke (2005) explored how web portals and participation in online networks influence and shape oneÂ’s understan ding of cultural phenomenon. By
24 interacting with a web-portal, users are exposed to a number of commercial advertisements and messages which carry various imp licit messages. Users are often tracked or monitored for insight into personal inte rests so they can be targeted with and exposed to certain types of marketing. The result i s an acculturation into capitalistic practices which can shape opinions, attitudes, and understanding of a variety of issues and concepts. While this work primarily focuses on the role consumerism plays in shaping digital literacy, digital identity, and per sonal empowerment, strong correlations can be made to educational settings which make use of web portals and learning management systems, media, the Internet, and World Wide Web as teaching and learning tools or resources. Media, such as video, text, animations, and images are used heavily in online and distance education learning environments. Horn (200 3) observed that media carry hidden or implicit messages and that those using media nee d to be aware of the implications. Furthermore, students need to understand and learn to recognize how such messages manifest themselves in media so they can be more aw are of and process any possible influential messages. Kwak (2004) documented the po wer of the media to shape societal norms and influence perceptions, attitudes, and beh avior toward cultural groups such as African Americans and Asians. Media serves as an ou tlet for concerns, interests, ideals, attitudes, and beliefs. The author argues that impl icit messages can shape cultural identities and social mores just as much as explici t reflection. Dines and Humez (2003) presented a number of works by various authors rega rding how media carries implicit messages pertaining to race, ethnicity, sexual orie ntation, class, and disability.
25 Implicit messages and values can be represented in the very content, materials, and learning environments being used to achieve the explicit goals and objectives (Eisner, 2002; Vallance, 1973). Diagrams, illustrat ions, language, characters, and reward systems carry associations, customs, and viewpoints which can influence understanding and shape attitudes. Ladson-Billings (2005) noted t he considerable lack of African American figures, history, and other references in mainstream and educational literature. Along these lines, the absence of women as referent s in a literature passage on the medical profession can instill beliefs that only me n should pursue a job in this field. Or a picture book depicting a story about succeeding at sports with no racial or ethnic minority representations could mean that only white/Caucasia n people should be considered as athletes. The heavy use of media in online and distance educa tion makes these assertions and findings particularly relevant. Since media pos sesses the ability to communicate implicit messages, careful consideration must be ta ken when media elements are created and implemented in the learning environment. Classroom and Campus Ecology Understandably, the creation of a comprehensive mod el detailing every manifestation of hidden curriculum in an educationa l environment is not realistic. However, a general framework can be provided to hel p guide online and distance education designers, administrators, and faculty to understand how hidden curriculum manifests and effects those associated with the lea rning environment. A common theme throughout the literature on hidden curriculum is t he extent to which environmental factors (communication, interaction, administration or organizational processes,
26 artifacts/symbols, etc.) shape and influence the ed ucational experience in unintended ways. Drawing upon an ecological perspective to ass ist in establishing a framework seems prudent because it allows for the considerati on of how multiple influences concurrently interact with and influence an individ ual over a given time within an environment. While the term ecology has mostly been associated w ith the environmental and natural sciences, the concept has been used to expl ain how organizational processes and agents such as physical elements, perceptions, peop le, language, and socio-cultural factors interact and influence each other within a given system. Kurt Lewin (1936) provided a seminal perspective with the equation B= f(PxE) to help explain why people behave as they do; that behavior (B) is a function (f) of the interaction (x) of a person (P) and environment (E). Because not every person will respond or react in the exact same way to a given situation, personal characteristics in conjunction with the various environmental factors at work within an environment should both be explored. Bronfrenbrenner (1977, 1995) described human behavi or as the result of complex interactions between five different subsystems in h is Ecological Systems Theory The microsystem includes structures closest or most immediate to t he individual such as family, school, and neighborhood. Interactions with in this subsystem are bi-directional meaning both the individual and the structure can a ct upon each other. The mesosystem involves the relationships between structures at th e microsystem level such as between an individualÂ’s family and school. The exosystem refers to other external social environments to which the individual is linked. Dir ect involvement with this subsystem may or may not occur; however, he or she is still i ndirectly influenced by happenings and
27 situations that transpire. The macrosystem is comprised of the larger cultural and social environment (national, political, economic, etc.). Lastly, the chronosystem is represented by the events and transitions experienced over time by the individual. As illustrated in Figure 2.1, each system and the structures found wi thin all have the ability to directly and indirectly influence behavior, beliefs, and develop ment. Figure 2.1 Bronfrenbrenner (1977, 1995) Ecological Systems T heory. Bowers and Flinders (1990) discussed the ecological factors present within a classroom environment and their affective abilities They argued that the classroom is made up of cultural patterns and language processes which are transmitted by teachers
28 and then interpreted and/or internalized by student s. Cultural patterns can be viewed as organized social and psychological processes which are maintained through symbolic and communicative patterns of meaning. Language is need ed for cultural expectations, traditions, meanings, and knowledge to be conveyed, negotiated, shaped, and perpetuated. Inherent in language are various kinds of metaphor ( analogic generative and iconic ) and hidden non-verbal communication ( proxemics kenesics and prosody ). Breakdowns in understanding can occur when meaning is different among a group who possess different cultural paradigms. Since metapho rs are culturally constructed, meaning ascribed by one group may not hold the same connota tion for others. The behaviors exhibited by the teacher within a classroom regardi ng language practices and awareness of cultural plurality can have significant affect o n student learning, attitudes, belief systems, and performance. The authors connect the i ssues related with language and culture with implicit curriculum. The effect of social climate on behavior, mood, hea lth, oneÂ’s sense of well-being, and overall development has also been studied. Moos (1974, 1979) described several clusters of social climate dimensions. First, the intensity of personal relationships entails how people affiliate their mutual support through i nvolvement, staff support, peer cohesion, and spontaneity. Next, personal growth and self-enhancement influence speaks to the potential for or opportunity found in the en vironment for personal growth or development of self-esteem. Factors involved in thi s cluster include the level of autonomy, practical orientation, competition, and i ntellectuality of the agents present in the space. Lastly, system maintenance and change refers to the extent to which the environment is orderly and clear.
29 In addition to the ecology of a classroom, the envi ronmental aspects of higher learning institutions have also been examined. Pasc arella and Terenzini (1991/2005) outlined how the college environment can shape stud ent learning based on three decades of research. Students are affected on a variety of levels from multiple sources including the institutional context. The authors state, Â“One of the most inescapable and unequivocal conclusions we can make is that the impact of colle ge is largely determined by the individualÂ’s quality of effort and level of involve ment in both academic and nonacademic activitiesÂ” (p. 610). They go on to state that if colleges want students to achieve more, it is incumbent upon the institution to provi de students with motivation, aspiration, and support. Classes and services that are intentio nally and systematically structured to actively engage them will result in higher levels o f learning and achievement. Figure 2.2 conceptually depicts the influence a college can ha ve on student learning. Figure 2.2 Pascarella and Terenzini (1991/2002) Model of Col lege Influence on Student Learning.
30 Strange and Banning (2001) outlined multiple ecolog ical factors (or environmental types) present within a campus learni ng environment that can influence and shape a learnerÂ’s experience. These areas inclu de the physical environment human aggregate organizational environment and constructed environment Through the careful design and purposeful structure of a learni ng environment, educators can help ensure positive challenging, yet supportive, experi ences. Conversely, poorly designed and unfocused strategies can result in unintended a nd unstable experiences for students. The physical environment includes aspects such as building placement, layou t of the educational space, and the artifacts found with in a learning environment. This environment can be conceptualized into three discre te positions. The architectural determinism of the physical setting refers to the actual struc tural design and how it functions to permit behavior. For example, the widt h of a hallway and exit-only doors can determine the flow and movement of traffic within a space. Architectural possibilism is viewed as the possibility of a space to limit behav ior. The location of a building a mile off-campus may prevent some students from traveling to it but not all of them. Lastly, architectural probabilism speaks to the prospect of an environment to shape behavior. The presence of a gated entrance to a college versu s an open one may prevent or deter some from entering. Additionally, various kinds of artifacts are found within the physical space such as signs and symbols (wayfinding or plac emarking); art work and posters; graffiti or trash/waste; and specific structures (s idewalks, curbs, buildings). The physical artifacts found within an environment can send expl icit and implicit messages, as well as influence the process of learning and developing.
31 The human aggregate speaks to how the people within the learning envir onment present themselves, act, and shape the overall clim ate. The characteristics of the members who inhabit the setting will exude certain qualitie s and press. New students must determine the degree of fit between their own trait s and attributes and the human aggregate of the environment. This will help determ ine attraction to, stability, and satisfaction within the setting. Students will eith er adapt their behavior, move to remake the climate, or seek a new and more congruent envir onment (leave). The organizational environment includes the rules, processes, procedures, and climate enacted by any purposefully organized entit y and administration at all levels. The climate created by an organization can be flexible or rigid, fixed or fluid, and/or dynamic or static depending on the purpose and goals of the organized body. A number of components exist in this environmental type includi ng complexity (number and size), centralization (distribution of power), formalization (rules and regulations), stratification (mobility and access), production (what is done), efficiency (cost), and morale (attrition). Dynamic organizations are ones that are flexible in design and respond to change. Conversely, static organizations are more rigid and resistant to change. If an organization seeks to be a positive developmental force, it will be appreciative of individual differences, expect participation, encourage risk t aking, and engage in personal interactions versus functional. This type of enviro nment echoes PrasadÂ’s (2005) symbolic interactionist view of organizational entities: Office rituals, organizational policies, managerial styles, and new technologies are all meaningful in the sense that t hey evoke a variety of emotions and responses to them. As a result, they a re also constantly
32 interpreted and made sense by managers, employees, customers, and other who are exposed to the organization. For symbolic i nteractionists, organizational phenomena only come to life in and t hrough these interpretations, and they have little existential s tanding without them (p. 22). Lastly, the constructed environment entails the reality that learners create based on their interactions with and perceptions of all e lements within the learning environment. Constructed paradigms are subjective v iews and experiences created by an individual. Important aspects of this area include the environmental press the pressures and demands that act on a person operating within t he setting; social climate as described by Moos (1979); and campus culture artifacts, perspectives, values, and assumptions. Press can come from administrative (rules, regulations, procedures), academic (curricula, classroom expectations), and student (co-curricular, activities, attitudes) sources. While distance and online learning environments pos sess some different characteristics and features compared to face to fa ce, overlap and transferability of Strange and BanningÂ’s concepts are viable. Table 2. 2 provides a comparison of the transferability of concepts between modalities and settings. Distance and online learning environments posses the same capacity as face to fa ce environments to create interactive, dynamic learning ecologies that are mediated and ne gotiated by those who operate within them (students, faculty, administration). Using a c onstructivistsÂ’ viewpoint, Reiser and Dempsey (2007) state: Reality is constructed by individuals and social gr oups based on their
33 Table 2.2. Transferability of Strange & Banning (2002) to Dist ance and Online Environments Physical Features Physical/Face to Face Environment Online Learning E nvironment Natural features: geographic location, climate, terrain Human-made features: buildings, open spaces, artifacts Way-finding and place-marking Web Architecture/Design/Layout User Interface and Navigation Metaphors present/in-use Multimedia present Human Aggregate Physical/Face to Face Environment Online Learning E nvironment Characteristics of members Degree of Â“fitÂ” Relationship forming Ability to communicate and connect with others in the environment Inferences of people who inhabit the course Presence of diversity in media Organizational Structures Physical/Face to Face Environment Online Learning E nvironment Rules, procedures, regulations Complexity, centralization, formalization, stratification, production, efficiency, and morale Dynamic vs. Static Rules, procedures, regulations Complexity, centralization, formalization, stratification, production, efficiency, and morale Dynamic vs. Static Constructed Meaning Physical/Face to Face Environment Online Learning E nvironment Subjective views and experiences Environmental Press Social Climate Campus Culture Administrative, academic, and student sources Subjective views and experiences Environmental Press Social Climate Campus Culture (face to face and online) Administrative, academic, and student sources experiences with and interpretations of the world. The mind constructs its own conceptual ecology for interacting with, interp reting, and making meaning for that world. Rather than being objective ly independent from the knower, knowledge, according to constructivists is embodied in
34 human experience, perceptions, imaginations, and me ntal and social constructions (p. 46). Young (2004) advocates the use of an ecological psy chology perspective, compared to traditional cognitive concept of a Â“lea rner as a computer,Â” when considering distance and online learning environments. If the i nstructional design is learner-centered, the goals and intentions of the learner will be a c entral consideration. Common learning principles such as self-directed learner goals and intentions, improvement with practice, and improvement with feedback are the foundation fo r YoungÂ’s argument to view the learner as a detector of information Learner action and goal adoption based on and guided by environmental design become critical elem ents within learning experiences which, as seen in the literature on hidden curricul um, are also common arguments for the manifestation and transmission of hidden curricular issues. Categorization of Literature and Research To assist in operationalizing the study, a categori zation of the literature and research based on thematic commonalities seems prud ent. Additionally, since a comprehensive hidden curricular model for distance and online learning environments has yet to presented and empirically tested, the cr eation of such a working framework is needed. The following section will group literature by author into four domains: communication modes and messages; content and learn ing material symbols/representations; learning environment funct ionality and architecture; and institutional/organizational systems and procedures Interaction relies upon some form of communication whether it is verbal, nonverbal, or written. Distance and online learning en vironments have various unique and
35 purposeful avenues through which communication can transpire including message boards, chat rooms, blogs, wikis, and audio/video c onference forums. An emergent theme regarding how hidden curriculum can manifest includ es communication modes and messages Research and literature with such references or f oci include: Ahola (2000) Alessi and Trollip (2001) Bergenhenegouwen (1987) Biglan (1973) Bowers & Flinders (1990) Chandler (2002) Donald (2002) Dewey (1948) Eisner (2002) Jackson (1968) Moore (1989) Noddings (1992) Portelli (1993) Margolis and Romero (1998) Strange and Banning (2001) The inclusion or exclusion of diverse representatio ns in course content and materials (videos, textbooks, animations, illustrat ions, diagrams) can carry and convey implicit messages. Another emergent theme regarding how hidden curriculum can
36 manifest includes learning c ontent and materials Research and literature with such references or foci include: Chandler (2002) Eisner (2002) Dines and Humez (2003) Horn (2003) Kwak (2004) Ladson-Billings (2005) Luke (2005) Margolis and Romero (1998) Moore (1989) Vallance (1973) Young (2004) Distance and online learning endeavors require the use of an electronic or digitally-mediated environment such as a web-portal learning management system, and/or computer or web-based space. A third emergen t theme regarding how hidden curriculum can manifest includes learning environment functionality and architecture Research and literature with such references or foc i include: Alessi & Trollip (2001) Anderson (2002) Chandler (2002) Feenberg and Bellman (1990) Luke (2005)
37 Moore (1989) Reiser and Dempsey Strange and Banning (2001) Wren (1999) The complexity and cultural press of a learning env ironment, both in and outside of the classroom, can act up on a student. Distance and online learning students must also navigate through numerous administrative hurdles of the institution, department, and program. A fourth emergent theme regarding how hidd en curriculum can manifest includes institutional/organizational systems Research and literature with such references or foci include: Acker (2001) Ahola (2000) Anderson (2002) Anyon (1980) Apple (1980, 1982) Bronfenbrenner (1977, 1995) Costello (2001 Dewey (1948) Donald (2002) Dreeben (1968) Giroux (1978, 1981) Grant (1992)
38 Margolis and Romero (1998) Moore (1989) Moos (1974, 1979) Noddings (1992) Pascarella and Terenzini (1991/2002) Portelli (1993) Thorne (1993) Snyder (1970) Strange and Banning (2001) Young (2004) Furthermore, personal filters and cultural percepti ons are also seen as important elements regarding the extent and effect of hidden curriculum on an individual. While not a manifestation or domain, an individual will react and respond differently to hidden curricular issues based on their past experiences, mental processes, and constructed understanding. Research and literature with such re ferences or foci include: Bowers and Flinders (1990) Bronfenbrenner (1977, 1995) Dewey (1948) Lewin (1936) Noddings (1992) Pascarella and Terenzini (1991/2002) Portelli (1993) Reiser and Dempsey (2007)
39 Strange and Banning (2001) Young (2004) Based on this categorization of the literature on h idden curriculum and ecology, Figure 2.3 illustrates the ways in which hidden cur riculum can manifest within a distance or online environment and the possible effects. Com mon inciting agents or domains of hidden curriculum can be found in communication modes and messages (verbal, nonverbal, and textual messages); symbols and represen tations found in learning content and materials (images, animation, video, illustrations); learning environment functionality and architecture (metaphoric symbols, layout, design, appearance, c omputer skills/proficiency); and the institutional/organizational systems in place within the environment (press, climate, rules, regulations, pr ocesses). As a person is exposed to an inciting hidden curricular agent, personal assumpti ons, interpretations, previously constructed meanings, and expectations act as a fil ter and influence the impact of effect. For example, the absence of ethnic representations in course content would have greater effect on those who identify with or value diverse representations compared to those who do not. The resulting outcomes, which can be either positive and negative, interconnected, and often overlap, include academic achievement (GPA, content mastery, performance); behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes (so cial roles, perception of the academic/educational process, professional conduct or culture); and persistence (completion or drop-out). The consideration of positive outcomes as a result of hidden curriculum is important to mention. Eisner (2002) mentioned that the products of hidden curriculum are not always negative; effects can produce positive r esults. For example, just as the
40 nn rn n nrr rr rr rnrn n nnrrn r !r" #r$ rn n n nrn %"r%rr r&r rrr n n nnn rr"'rr (nrr"r )rrr"r nnn nn rnr n n rn!"nr!r"nn#! n rn n !*+ $r"n$%"nn n rr,r$ &-rr $rr-!r nn n $rr r Figure 2.3. Domains and Outcomes of Hidden Curriculum in Onlin e Learning Environments
41 exclusion of diverse ethnic representations in cont ent can develop negative beliefs, the presence can help promote inclusive attitudes and p aradigms. This aspect of hidden curriculum has not been given much attention in the literature or the resulting conceptual models but is important to consider when conceptual izing the functions of hidden curriculum. One should view the result of hidden cu rriculum as possibly having a negative or positive outcome on such factors as ach ievement, beliefs, and persistence. Conclusion This chapter provided an overview of the literature and research associated with hidden curriculum and classroom/campus ecology. Hid den curriculum can be viewed as the implicit norms, expectations, and socialization practices that take place in a learning environment. The literature on hidden curriculum in the K-12, higher education, and distance education settings were all presented. Add itionally, sever perspectives on person-environment theory, classroom ecology, and c ampus ecology were reviewed. Lastly, a categorization was performed to assist in operationalizing the study and establishing a working model of how hidden curricul um could manifest in distance and online learning environments from an ecological per spective.
42 Chapter Three Method Introduction The previous section presented literature and suppo rting theoretical frameworks related to hidden curriculum in various settings an d environments, as well as possible contributing ecological factors. The main question asked in this study aims to understand how hidden curriculum manifests in online learning environment from an ecological perspective. This chapter outlines the research met hod and data collection techniques used in this study. The research design will be pre sented, followed by data collection techniques, setting, sample, and ethical considerat ions. After a description of the setting, a detailed account of each data collection strategy will be offered. Discovering hidden or implicit phenomena that exist and act within a distance education environment requires a research approach aimed at exposing how a learner assigns meaning when he or she interacts with the v arious elements present within the environment (e.g. text, graphics, procedures, symbo ls, content, people, etc.). Many hidden curricular issues are the result of assumpti ons and expectations that are not formally communicated, established, or conveyed wit hin the learning environment. Schutz (1967), as cited in Rubin and Rubin (2005), states that cultural lenses are Â“taken for grantedÂ” and invisible to most. The researcher must ask questions related to the Â“every dayÂ” dealings or ordinary events to begin to understand and learn about the culture. This helps to articulate an issue related to hidden curriculum; that implicit norms,
43 expectations, and other manifestations may be diffi cult to identify by the researchers and participants because they are so engrained into the culture and day-to-day activities. Awareness of hidden curricular issues becomes a con sideration which has a direct implication on how to conduct research on the topic Questions cannot be directly asked about specific aspects of hidden curriculum because they may not even be apparent and understandable to the participants or will not be b road enough to encompass all the possible issues at hand. Furthermore, the issues ex plored in this study are contemporary, broad, and unable to be controlled by the investiga tor, so it warrants using Â“howÂ” or Â“whyÂ” questions to help gain understanding into the phenomenon (Yin, 1994). For these reasons, the qualitative methodology best fit the n eeds for exploring hidden curricular issues in online learning environments. Research Design This research was conducted using a qualitative phe nomenological approach situated within a case study context that describes and explains an in-tact academic program being facilitated through an online or dist ance learning environment. Phenomenology investigates the experiences of multi ple persons surrounding a common phenomenon (Creswell, 2007; Ehrich, 2003). In the d esign of phenomenological research, Â“Human experiences are examined through t he detailed descriptions of the people being studiedÂ” (Creswell, 1994, p.12). Mario n (1997) further explains, Â“Phenomenographers do not make statements about the world as such, but about peopleÂ’s conceptions of the worldÂ” (p. 145). As illustrated in the literature review, perception and an individualÂ’s socio-cultural lens plays a signifi cant role in how hidden curricular issues manifest. Additionally, phenomenological data analy sis involves a reduction method
44 which allows for the researcher to search for all p ossible meanings. Data reduction allows the researcher to discover thematic connections bet ween participants or determine if the information is specific to each individual. Unearth ing such conceptions, views, and connections is best done using a phenomenological a pproach. Complimenting the discovery of the faculty and stud entsÂ’ perceived realities would be the case study method, which allows the re searcher to understand the how the organizational and environmental context (a bounded system) is impacting or influencing social processes (Creswell, 2007; Hartley, 2004). A dditionally, the case study approach is designed to offer detailed, descriptive accounts in areas in which little research has been conducted (Merriam, 1988; Yin, 1994). Using an ecol ogical viewpoint, understanding the factors that contribute to hidden curricular manife stations requires exploration in a holistic manner. Hartley (2004) affirms the use of case study in the context of learning more about the effects of an organizational entity: Case studies are useful where it is important to un derstand how the organizational and environmental context is having an impact on or influencing social processes. Case studies can be u seful in illuminating behavior that may only be fully understandable in t he context of the wider forces operating within or on the organization, whe ther these are contemporary or historical (p. 325). Therefore, observing and interviewing those who are operating in an online academic program or setting (case) allowed for a more compre hensive investigation of the transpiring hidden curricular issues.
45 Research Questions This research employed a qualitative methodological paradigm which aimed to answer how or why questions by reporting the lived experiences of others. This study described the perceptions of students, faculty, and administrators associated with an academic program that is facilitated online. The pr imary research questions were: How do organizational and institutional systems con tribute to the manifestation of hidden curricular issues? How do differences and similarities in perceptions between students, faculty, and administrators contribute to hidden curricular issu es? How does hidden curriculum manifest in online and d istance learning environments? Data Collection For this study, the Institutional and Organizational Systems domain outlined in the literature review were explored. Due to the sco pe of all the domains and inciting agents, it was not realistic to explore all of them in this research. The institutional and organizational systems domain was chosen because it includes many issues, inciting agents, and situations a student is likely to first encounter when beginning the academic process. For example, recruitment, admissions, and numerous administrative processes must transpire before a student encounters the func tionality and architecture of the learning environment or learning content and materi als. While communication modes and messages could be a significant aspect of the insti tutional and organizational systems domain, it has high applicability to the classroom experience and warrants being explored separately. Multiple sources of information were dr awn from in the data collection
46 process including interviews (student, faculty, and administrators), non-participant observations of the online academic environment, an d a researcher reflective journal. Sample Qualitative research involves purposeful samples wh ich are non-random and seek to identify information-rich cases (participants) t hat embody the characteristics of the issue being studied (Creswell, 2007; Pattton, 1990) This provides an opportunity for indepth study about issues of central important to th e purpose of the research. Merriam (1998) states, Â“the most appropriate sampling strategy is nonproba bilisticÂ” (p. 60) which includes choosing a sample from which the most amou nt of information can be learned. In the case of this study, using students, faculty, and administrators or student support services personnel operating in an online learning environment was most appropriate and yielded information best suited to answer the resea rch questions posed. F indings are not meant to be generalizable to larger populations but to help inform theory building and promote insight into similar situations which is de scribed by Yin (1993) as Â“analytic generalizabilityÂ” or transferability. By providing thick, rich description and detailed accounts of the case, others can determine transfer ability and generate hypothesis testing questions for further study. Three types of student participants were targeted f or interviews. First, two to three (2-3) students entering the academic program and at tending online will provided a fresh perspective of the organizational and institutional systems in place. Second, two to three (2-3) students who attended online and had been ope rating within the academic program for at least a two semesters provided a variation s ince they have had a longer time to experience the organizational and institutional sys tems present within the environment.
47 Third, two to three (2-3) students who were enrolle d in the academic program and attended in a face-to-face modality were included t o help the researcher identify issues that were related and unique to the online environm ent compared to those in the face-toface environment. All types of student were current ly enrolled in the academic program. Next, two (2) faculty members were identified to in terview who were directly involved in the teaching, designing, and facilitation of the ac ademic program (online and face-toface). Lastly, one to two (2) administrators or stu dent services personnel involved with the organizational management of academic program ( areas such as admissions, advising, recruitment, graduation, or policy compliance) were interviewed. The faculty interviewed were asked to identify administrators or support pe rsonnel who worked regularly and were familiar with the academic program. Setting The study took place at a large community college l ocated in the south over the course of several months, including the month prior to the first day of classes. The academic program selected for this study prepares s tudents to be opticians and is facilitated completely online which allowed the res earcher to directly holistically explore issues related to hidden curriculum in a distance e ducation setting. For a detailed description of the institution and academic setting please review Appendix F. Paperbased materials, institutional websites, and an asy nchronous learning management system, Blackboard, were also observed in this stud y, as needed and appropriate. Semi-Structured Interviews The researcher solicited participation from student s, faculty, and administrators or student support personnel who were associated with an online academic program at a
48 local community college in person and through email Semi-structured interviews were conducted over a 3-4 month period to gain insight i nto the ways hidden curricular issues manifested. A series of questions related to studen t and faculty expectations, perceptions, and experiences within the environment were explore d, compared, contrasted, and analyzed for themes, differences, and similarities. Separate but related interview protocols were given to each population (see below) to allow the researcher to discover differences and similarities between each group. In terview protocols were created based on the themes, factors, and conclusions seen in the hidden curricular and ecological literature. To help increase the standardization of the interview process for all participants, the researcher first attempted to int erview participants face-to-face. Failing that, synchronous video (e.g. video conference) was used. Lastly, synchronous audio (e.g. phone or Skype) was used. Using a semi-structured i nterview approach allowed the researcher to build on new findings, explore emergi ng themes, and ask follow up questions by continuously redesigning the questions (Rubin & Rubin, 2005). Data collection points for students originally were to occur at three to four week intervals to allow for prolonged engagement in the field and to give students time to reflect upon the questions being asked in relation to their experiences in the environment; however, time concerns on the part of the student p articipants prevented this strategy from being employed. Student interviews were conduc ted through the telephone or Skype (internet voice over IP) and asynchronously through email due to the geographical disbursement of the participants in relation to the researcher. Telephone or Skype conversations were recorded using an audio-recordin g device and translated. Email communication was sent from the researcherÂ’s secure university email address containing
49 an invite to participate, the document outlining th e consent to participate, and the interview protocol questions (see appendix A). Foll ow up emails transpired if clarification or further probing was needed. An inc entive wase offered for student participation in the form of an iTunes gift card or fast food gift card. Interviews with faculty and administrators were con ducted face-to-face and recorded using an audio-recording device (see appen dix A). This also allowed for consistency, integrity, and effectiveness of data c ollection. Recordings of the interviews were transcribed and all data collected was secured for confidentiality. Follow up interviews were scheduled, as needed, based on emer ging themes and points of clarification. Non-Participant Observation Non-participant observations were conducted and the researcher will provide thick-rich description of the online learning envir onment in which the participants operate and navigate. Aspects such as physical and online layout/set up, administrative policies/procedures, screen-shots, printed document ation, online documentation, and other features relevant to the institutional and or ganization focus of the study were reviewed to determine transferability and and stren gthen validity of the researcherÂ’s observations and reports. Researcher Reflective Journal In qualitative research, the researcher is widely c onsidered a data collection instrument. To this end, the need for transparency was necessary to make the constructed nature of the research visible to the reader. Harri son, MacGibbon, and Morton (2001) suggest that qualitative research is increasingly:
50 Â…presented in ways that make it clear how the resea rcherÂ’s own experiences, values, and positions of privilege in various hierarchies have influenced their research interests, the way they c hoose to do their research, and the ways they choose to represent the ir research findings (p. 325). I kept a reflective journal and reported personal b ackground information, presuppositions, choices, experiences, and actions that transpired t hrough the research process (Janesick, 2007; Mruck & Breuer, 2003). I am currently employe d as a computer science instructor at a large community college creating and teaching face-to-face and online courses in web design, multimedia design and software, and com puter basics. Additionally, I teach student development theory at the graduate level in both face-to-face and online modalities. I hold an undergraduate degree in music a masterÂ’s degree in college student affairs, and two graduate certificates in instructi onal technology. I am enrolled at a large research university in a doctoral program studying Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Instructional Technology. My previous v ocational and professional endeavors have been in the realm of higher educatio n in various student affairs and administrative support services roles including onl ine program involvement, academic advising, residence life, student activities, and o rientation. Additionally, I have been trained in qualitative research methods through my doctoral study course work and participated in the data collection and analysis ph ases of two qualitative research projects. Data Reduction, Coding, and Analysis Qualitative research is an iterative process that t ranspires throughout the study from beginning to end (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Que stions are refined, approaches are
51 modified, and positions changed based on emerging t hemes, patterns, and findings. The data collected was analyzed by the researcher throu gh a reductive process by looking for patterns and themes, establishing codes, and drawin g conclusions (Creswell, 2007; Miles & Huberman, 1994). An initial review of the informa tion determined which data was related to the research questions and theoretical c onstructs explored previously. To assist in the coding and analysis of the data, A uerbach and SilversteinÂ’s (2003) systematic approach to qualitative data analysis wa s utilized. Acknowledging that researcher conclusions and themes must be supported by textual accounts, raw text (the lowest level of coding) was reviewed and reduced in to manageable segments. Reoccurring ideas were identified in the raw data b y making note of repeated phrases or words both within and across groups (students, facu lty, administrators, environmental elements and observations, researcherÂ’s reflections ). Themes were then established and included if any of the following is found: 1) refer ence made by multiple individuals and concurs with previous research; 2) significance was indicated by a majority of participants; or 3) in-depth responses from key par ticipants display thematic significance (Oliver, 2004). Figure 3.1 depicts Auerbach and Sil versteinÂ’s (2003) six-step procedure for coding and constructing a narrative from text.
52 Figure 3.1 Auerbach and SilversteinÂ’s (2003) Six Steps for C onstructing a Theoretical Narrative from Text. A narrative was then constructed to illustrate the significant findings and convey the participants lived experiences and stories as relat ed to the research questions being explored and literature presented in the previous c hapter. Validation To ensure validity of the findings, the following s trategies were employed as identified by Creswell (2007): 1) the data was tria ngulated using the student interview data, faculty interview data, non-participant obser vations, and researcher reflective journal; 2) rich, thick description was used to all ow readers to make decisions on transferability and establish conclusions separate of the researcher; 3) the researcher was engaged for a prolonged amount of time in the field ; 4) interviewees were asked to check
53 and verify transcripts of the interview for accurac y (see appendix D); and 5) themes and conclusions were externally audited by an expert in qualitative analysis and validation for inter-rater reliability (see appendix E). Ethics Qualitative research, particularly those that emplo y interviews at as means of data collection, requires the researcher to establish an d maintain a trustworthy relationship with the participants (Rubin & Rubin, 2005). The re searcher treated participants with respect and reported any questionable issues that a rose during the data collection process. Informed consent was obtained from all participants (see appendix B) and confidentiality was maintained at all times. All participants were given the option to use a pseudonym in place of their real names. The researcher shared al l data and results with the participants and made it clear that participation in the study i s strictly voluntary. Internal Review Board (IRB) approval was obtained before the collec tion of data will begin to ensure the humane and fair treatment of subjects. Research Plan Participation was solicited through email to all in coming and returning students of the program with the assistance of the programÂ’s fa culty coordinator in July and August 2009. The researcher approached and worked with the faculty and administrators associated with the academic program to gain permis sion and solicit participation in July 2009. New and returning students in the program wer e emailed throughout August and September 2009 to solicit participation and set up interviews. Faculty and student interviews were conducted through August, September and October. In October and November 2009, student, faculty, and member checkin g was performed and follow up
54 interviewswere conducted, if warranted. All member checking was completed by midNovember 2009. The researcher will then wrap up and provide closure correspondence with participants at the end of November 2009. Tabl e 3.1 provides an overview of the estimated research timeline and tasks list. Table 3.1 Research Timeline and Tasks July 2009 Consulted with faculty and academic program Emails sent to solicit participation in study August 2009 Student solicitations send Faculty interviews conducted September 2009 Student solicitation and interviews performed; foll owed up, as needed Administrator/support personnel interview conducted Follow up interviews with faculty conducted, as nee ded October 2009 Student interviews performed; followed up conducted as needed Follow up interviews with administrators/support pe rsonnel conducted, as needed November 2009 Member checking completed Wrapped up and closed experience with participants Conclusion This section provided an overview of the methodolog y utilized for this research. A qualitative research design that incorporates a p henomenological approach situated within a case study was used to investigate the res earch questions. Data collection methods included interviews with students, faculty, and administrators associated with an online opticianry academic program at a large commu nity college. Non-participant observation and a researcher reflective journal wer e used to provide rich, thick data,
55 transparency, and to ensure triangulation of data. A systematic coding procedure was used to reduce the data, establishes themes, and pr esent the findings. The proposed data collection timeframe transpired between July 2009 a nd ended November 2009.
56 Chapter Four Results Introduction This study used a qualitative phenomenological appr oach situated within a case study context which aims to describe and explain an in-tact academic program being facilitated through an online and/or distance learn ing modality. The researcher conducted interviews over the course of a semester with three populations: faculty, staff, and students (distance/online and on-ground). Students classified as online Questions were asked related to how hidden curricular issues may m anifest in an online and/or distance learning environment. The complexity and cultural p ress of a learning environment were examined including subjective views, climate, and r ule/procedures. Additionally, several general open ended questions were asked to allow fo r other issues that may not have been asked to arise. Furthermore, non-participant observ ations of the online and web spaces and a researcher reflective journal were used to he lp triangulate the data and provide further insight. This chapter will present the resu lt of common themes in addressing the research questions: How do organizational and institutional systems con tribute to the manifestation of hidden curricular issues? How do differences and similarities in perceptions between students, faculty, and administrators contribute to hidden curricular issu es?
57 How does hidden curriculum manifest in online and d istance learning environments? Participant quotes and thick, rich descriptions are used heavily throughout the chapter to support conclusions and observations mad e by the researcher. Additionally, readers can draw their own conclusions based on the data presented. The quotes presented are nearly verbatim from the transcriptio ns of the recorded interview sessions to preserve the authenticity of each participantÂ’s voice and lived experiences. In cases where identifying information was mentioned in a re sponse or transcript, some aspects have been changed to generic terms or labels to pre serve confidentiality and to clarify or provide context for the quote. This chapter is organized into four major sections that correspond with the research questions. First, an overview of the setti ng, data collection procedure, and sample population is described including demographi c information. Next, organizational and institutional systems, as outlined in the liter ature, such as subjective views, environmental press, social climate, college and pr ogram cultures, rules, and procedures are used as a framework to help categorize and pres ent the themes. The major themes related to these area and the first research questi on were: 1) Accessibility/Flexibility Differences; 2) Disconnect in Conveying and Perceiv ing the Professional Culture; and 3) Disconnected from College; and 4) Differences in We bsite Usability. The third section of the chapter corresponds with t he research question pertaining to differences and similarities between student, fa culty, and administrators (staff) perceptions. The themes from each population are pr esented, followed by a comparison between groups. Themes in this area for the faculty group included: 1) Workload and
58 Time and 2) Lack of Support for Online/Distance Lea rning Processes. Emergent staff themes for this question included: 1) Lack of Resou rces, 2) Preference for Face-to-Face Interaction, 3) Academic Program Disconnect, and 4) Faculty Interference. Lastly, student themes for this area included, 1) Student S ervices, 2) Faculty Assistance, and 3) Limited Interaction. The final section summates the major themes that em erged in the study as it relates to the global research question of how hidd en curriculum manifests in online and distance learning environments. Global themes assoc iated with institutional and organizational systems were identified as: 1) Suppo rt Functions, 2) Advocacy, and 3) Conveying the Profession. A summary concludes this chapter. Case Setting This study took place over the course of four month s of one academic semester at a community college located in the southeast. The a cademic program under study was an opticianry program located in the division of Healt h Sciences of the institution. Students enrolled in this program complete a two-year Associ ate of Science or Applied Science (AS or AAS) degree in Opticianry. The academic prog ram offers a variety of ways to take courses and earn a degree including face-to-fa ce (all on-ground instruction), hybrid (mix of on-ground and online/computer-mediated inst ruction), and online (all online/computer-mediated). For a detailed descripti on of the setting, see Appendix F. This program met the criteria for the needed popula tion for the study and allowed for comparison and an in-depth understanding of the dif ferences and needs of each group.
59 Data Collection and Analysis Faculty, staff, and students were contacted by the researcher via email soliciting interest to participate (see Appendix B). Students were offered an incentive of a $25 gift certificate to participate in the study. Out of 20 interested respondents, a total of 14 (n=14) interviews were set up and completed. Partic ipants included two faculty members from the program, three staff members from student services who were identified by the faculty as being regular contacts for their program and nine students (four being new online/distance students, two being returning onlin e/distance students, and three being on-ground/hybrid students). Faculty and staff inter views were conducted face-to-face on campus. Student interviews were conducted via telep hone and through online video conferencing due to location and time. All intervie ws were recorded and then transcribed. While a metered interview approach was proposed (co ntacting students two-three times over the course of the four month period with two-t hree questions at a time), time constraints and willingness of participants to be c ontacted multiple times over the course of a semester prevented this strategy from being im plemented; however, single interviews with an additional follow-up question/clarification opportunity is a long standing qualitative practice. New students had been suffici ently exposed to the institution and program to allow detailed responses, which resulted in the collection of rich data. Furthermore, a follow-up email was sent in the four th month asking participants to review the interview questions asked previously, re view their transcribed conversation with the researcher, and to add any additional comm ents or information. Themes were identified by reading through the inter view transcripts, researcher reflective journal, and using OliverÂ’s (2004) crite ria for data selection. A theme was
60 included if: 1) reference was made by multiple indi viduals and concurs with previous research; 2) significance was indicated by a majori ty of participants; or 3) in-depth responses from key participants display thematic si gnificance. Relevant passages of text were grouped by the researcher to lay the basis for naming themes. Themes were then categorized into larger abstract groups as they rel ated to this study. An outside reviewer/code-checker analyzed the transcripts and researcher reflective journal using the same process. Minimal differences were found betwee n the researcher and the outside reviewer results. Adjustments were made to some the matic titles to more concisely express the essence of the theme. A third global th eme was added due to its uniqueness and inability to be collapsed into the two original ly identified by the researcher. Furthermore, additional quotes were added to some p assages to strengthen support for and solidify understanding of the theme. All percei ved differences between the codechecker and researcher were reconciled to 100% agre ement. Passages from transcripts are used heavily to help support thematic findings and provide a deeper understanding into the lived experiences of the participants; however, passages were not used from every respondent for every question or theme. Sample Participants fell into one of five different classi fications depending on their relationship with the college and status in the aca demic program. Faculty members (n=2) were those who had instructional and curricular res ponsibilities with the academic program. Both faculty members were full-time and ta ught both face-to-face and online student populations. Staff members (n=3) were those who work in student services area. One staff participant worked in academic advising, another in admissions/records, and
61 the third in graduation. All staff members who were interviewed were full-time and worked not only with the opticianry program but wit h all students at the college. Students fell into one of three different categorie s. New online/distance students (n=4) were those in their first semester of their f irst year of study, resided a significant distance away from the college (two hours or more), and do not attend classes at the main campus. New online/distance students take classes o nline but participate in a face-to-face lab to fulfill apprenticeship requirements and gain hands-on experience in the field of opticianry. Labs were completed at an approved priv ate optical company (n=1) or through a partnership with a sister college two hou rs south of the institution (n=3). Returning online/distance students (n=2) were those who had at least one semester of classes in the program, resided a significant dista nce away from the college (two hours or more), and do not attend classes at the main campus Returning online/distance students also take classes online but participate in a faceto-face lab to fulfill apprenticeship requirements and gain hands-on experience in the fi eld of opticianry. Additionally, labs were completed at an approved private optical compa ny (n=1) or through a partnership with a sister college two hours south of the instit ution (n=1). Lastly, on-ground students are those who primarily take face-to-face classes a t the main campus and live in close proximity to the college (less than two hours). All desired participant numbers were met as proposed (two faculty members, two staff, two-th ree new online students, two-three returning online students, and two-three on-ground students) and in several instances exceeded the desired range of participants for each category. The vast majority (86%) of the participants identif ied as female (n=12) while 14% identified as male (n=2). Ethnicity/race was report ed by all participants who self-
62 identified as being 78% White/Caucasian (n=11), 7% African American (n=1), 7% Hispanic (n=1), and 7% Asian (n=1). The average age in years of the participants was 40.7 with a range of 23 to 57. Participant names we re replaced with pseudonyms for confidentiality purposes. Table 4.1 depicts a break down of the participant sample by type, age, gender, and ethnicity. Table 4.1 Sample Population by Type, Age, Gender, and Ethnici ty/Race Type Age Gender Ethnicity/Race Faculty Member A 38 Male W Faculty Member B 46 Female W Staff Member A 36 Female W Staff Member B 31 Female W Staff Member C 48 Female W New Online/Distance Student A 36 Female H New Online/Distance Student B 29 Female W New Online/Distance Student C 47 Female W New Online/Distance Student D 57 Male W Returning Online/Distance Student A 47 Female W Returning Online/Distance Student B 55 Female AA On-Ground Student A 30 Female A On-Ground Student B 47 Female W On-Ground Student C 23 Female W *AA=African American; A=Asian; H=Hispanic; W=White Compared to the actual population of the program, t he participant demographics were fairly similar. Males were underrepresented in the participant sample and some ethnic/racial groups were not present. Although qua litative data does not seek to generalize findings, and while the purpose of this research was not intended to look for trends between certain demographics, a comparison i s provided for informational purposes.
63 A total of 148 students were enrolled in the academ ic program in 2008. Of those, 102 (69.4%) identified as female and 45 (30.6%) ide ntified as male with one not responding regarding gender. The mean student age w as 32.3 and the median age was 28.9. 55 (37.2%) are full-time students while 93 (6 2.8%) part-time students. Ethnicity/race was categorized as follows: 10 (6.8% ) identified as African-American; six (4.1%) identified as Asian; 34 (23.3%) identified a s Hispanic; two (1.4%) identified as Native American; 94 (64.4%) identified as White; an d two did not respond regarding race/ethnicity. A total of 1116 full and part-time faculty were rep orted for the 2007-2008 academic year of which a total of 262 were full-tim e and 853 were part-time. There were no demographic data by gender, age, or ethnicity/ra ce available for full-time faculty only. 527 (47%) identified as female and 587 (53%) identi fied as male. The mean faculty age was 48.2. Ethnicity/race was broken down as follows : 106 (10%) identified as AfricanAmerican; two (<1%) identified as American Indian/A laska Native; 31 (3%) identified as Asian; one-two (9%) identified as Hispanic; and 873 (78%) identified as White. A total of 1121full and part-time staff were report ed for the 2007-2008 academic year of which 625 were full-time and 496 were parttime. There were no demographic data by gender, age, or ethnicity/race available fo r full-time staff only. 659 (59%) identified as female while 462 (41%) identified as male. The mean staff age was 43.6. Ethnicity/race was broken down as follows: 247 (22% ) identified as African-American; 13 (1%) identified as American Indian/Alaskan Nativ e; 40 (4%) identified as Asian; 186 (17%) identified as Hispanic; and 635 (57%) identif ied as White. Table 4.2 outlines a
64 Table 4.2 Comparison of Sample Population to College and Acad emic Program Population Sample Population N %* College and Academic Program Population N %* Faculty (full & part-time) 2 1116 Gender Female 1 50% 527 47% Male 1 50% 587 53% Age (mean) 42.0 48.2 Ethnicity/Race African-American 0 0% 106 10% American Indian/AK Nat. 0 0% 2 <1% Asian 0 0% 31 3% Hispanic 0 0% 102 9% White 2 100% 873 78% Not Reported 0 0% 2 <1% Staff 3 1121 Gender Female 3 100% 659 59% Male 0 0% 462 41% Age (mean) 38.3 43.6 Ethnicity/Race African-American 0 0% 247 22% American Indian/AK Nat. 0 0% 13 1% Asian 0 0% 40 4% Hispanic 0 0% 186 17% White 3 100% 635 57% Not Reported 0 0% 0 0% Students 9 148 Gender Female 8 89% 102 69% Male 1 11% 45 31% Not Reported 0 0% 1 <1% Age (mean) 41.2 32.3 Ethnicity/Race African-American 1 11% 10 7% American Indian/AK Nat. 0 2 1% Asian 1 11% 6 4% Hispanic 1 11% 34 23% White 6 67% 94 64% Not Reported 0 0% 0 0% *Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding
65 basic demographic breakdown of the sample participa nt population to the academic population according to the most recent college rec ords available. Question #1: Organizational and Institutional Syste ms The first research question was designed to determi ne at how organizational and institutional systems contribute to the manifestati on of hidden curricular issues; specifically, how do organizational and institution al systems contribute to the manifestation of hidden curricular issues? Particip ants were asked a series of questions related to how the institution and academic program functions, is perceived, and conveys its cultural press. This section presents responden t answers and themes related to recruitment and admission; accessibility and flexib ility; professional culture and practices; subjective views and connection; rules a nd procedures; and the online/Web space. The major themes related to this question we re: 1) Accessibility and Flexibility Differences, 2) Disconnect in Conveying the Profess ional Culture, 3) Disconnected from the College, and 4) Differences in Website Usabilit y. Recruitment and Admissions All participants were asked a question related to t he recruitment and admissions practices of the college and academic program (see Appendix A). Widely, participants became aware the program through word of mouth and Internet searches from various sources including program alumni, optical retail bu sinesses, and government listings. Faculty reported recruiting students through profes sional associations, conferences, word of mouth, and reputation of the program (n=2). Addi tionally, all students (n=9) reported applying through the college website via an online form. Faculty Member A described recruitment efforts as follows:
66 As far as recruitment, the Opticianry Faculty trave ls for seminars and conventions throughout the state and nation. We pro mote the program as much as possible. The Opticianry Program is a membe r of the National Federation of Opticianry Schools. The NFOS promotes formal Opticianry educational throughout the nation. Faculty Member B stated that the program relied mai nly on word of mouth but also used conventions and seminars as opportunities: We recruit mainly by word of mouth, optical convent ions Â– we give seminars and people who know people who know people who may want to get into the field... Our students tend to be th e non-traditional type, more so, not all. And itÂ’s really word of mouth. Additionally, both face-to-face and online/distance students learned of the program largely through associates and some publici ty. Returning Student A and New Online Student D both saw a newspaper article in a local paper discussing available government financial assistance for enrolling in th e program and access information via the Internet, phone, and/or in-person through a pro gram representative or informational session. On-Ground Student A described finding out about the program through a neighbor: So, my parents, their neighbor is a guidance counse lor and she suggested the [collegeÂ’s] opticianry program, because itÂ’s, y ou know, quite a reputable program here in theÂ… area. So, I decided to go on the website and I took a look, and then I got into contract wit h [Faculty Member A],
67 and, you know, he directed me to all the links on t he website, and thatÂ’s how I applied to the opticianry program. The staff interviewed reported not being fully awar e of the current recruitment practices for the program (n=3). Additionally, staf f mentioned not being a part of the recruitment and admission process for the opticianr y students (both on-ground and online/distance). Staff Member B described the circ umstances as follows: As far as the recruitment, we donÂ’t really deal wit h that, you know, because weÂ’re a community college and, the optician ry program is not a limited access program, so everyone who applies is automatically admitted into the program. So they submit an online applica tion. Within seven to ten days of their acceptance, they receive a welcom e letter in the mail. Now, the welcome letter is a form letter that every one receives and it tells them steps that really kind of differ a little bit from the opticianry program, because opticianry, they do their own orie ntation and they, you know, do their own advising and things like that. So itÂ’s not necessarily the same as the students who are going to come in a nd go through advising, through testing, orientation and then reg ister for their classes. Accessibility and Flexibility Differences All participants were asked questions regarding the level of accessibility students had to college personnel and the level of flexibili ty of the institution (see Appendix A). Themes emergent from this line of questioning revea led a polarization of accessibility and flexibility; one whereby the academic program w as perceived to have a high level of accessibility and flexibility while the college had a low level of accessibility and
68 flexibility. A total of eleven (n=11) participants identified accessibility and flexibility in this manner. Both faculty members discussed how access and flexi bility of the faculty and program were high while issues with student service s were persistent which limits access and flexibility. Faculty Member A characterized the level of institutional accessibility for services as being limited to face-to-face interacti ons which causes issues for online/distance students stating: For the most part [the college] requires students t o be present in-person to obtain any information regarding their status as [a college] student or to receive assistanceÂ… [student services] continually ask students to come to campus. Some are out of state and many live hours f rom [the college]. I say it is manageable by other means, email, phone c alls, etc. but emails and phone calls are rarely answered. Faculty member A stated that access to the program and faculty was Â“excellentÂ” that they Â“take every opportunity to help our students in any wayÂ”. Faculty Member B went on to comment, Â“They have great accessibility to us. WeÂ’ re crazy maniacs about emailsÂ… certainly, the financial aid, the admissions and re cords areas are, are tough. Especially eLearning students, Â‘cause they already feel discon nected.Â” For staff, no real distinction was seen between the needs of a face-to-face student and an online/distance (n=3). When asked if the lev el of accessibility to services were easier or harder for online/distance student compar ed to their face-top-face counterparts, Staff Member A stated:
69 I think itÂ’s about the same. I mean, we have this general email in our, in our office, that each month a different person in o ur office takes care of Â– like, this month, itÂ’s me. And I probably spend cl ose to two hours in the morning just answering emails from students and try ing to get to it quickly. But, you know, like I said, I think we tr y, with what resources we have, I think we try our hardest to be there for ev eryone. Staff Member B characterized the level of accessibi lity as being prohibited by policy, law, or procedure, especially for online/distance s tudents. She stated: ItÂ’s a little bit more difficult. And the students that I primarily work with in the opticianry tend to be the ones who are in [a remote city in the state], because, you know, they donÂ’t really have hands-on access to the staff. So, theyÂ’re calling and theyÂ’re asking for things t hat sometimes we may or may not be able to give them between [the college] policies and the FERPA regulations. For example, the student calls i n and they ask for their student ID number. ThatÂ’s not something we c an give over the phone. We ask the students to either come in with a photo ID or weÂ’ll resend their welcome letter that has that informati on. So, it can be a little bit more difficult. The students have to be a bit more proactive, more responsible to do things in a timely manner, so tha t theyÂ’re not delayed in their process. But, as long as theyÂ’re on top of e verything, they should be okay. ItÂ’s just, you know, if thereÂ’s an error on [the collegeÂ’s] part, it makes things a little bit more difficult for the wh eels to turn. Furthermore, Staff Member B states that student ser vices attempts to be flexible to
70 student needs: From the admissionsÂ’ side, we try to be more flexib le with the opticianry students, especially the ones who are in [a remote city] and canÂ’t just drop by the campus, so, you know, if theyÂ’re asking us t o do something with regards to registering, I mean, their classes, you know, weÂ’ll make exceptions for them where we wouldnÂ’t make exceptio ns for students in other programs. However, when asked about specific accommodations o r services designed for online or distance students, no distinctions were made from l ocal or face-to-face students. Staff Member B responded: The way the process works, you know, like students donÂ’t necessarily come and sit down and have appointments, you know. WeÂ’ve got the windows, so students are corralled through the line s, they come to the window, they ask their questions. You know, so itÂ’ s not necessarily because of the volume, a high level of customer ser vice for students from other programs, either. So, in that way, I suppose d theyÂ’re not receiving a disservice that would be any different from the gen eral population. Staff Member C also indicated that contacting staff was difficult through telephone, making access more challenging for online and dista nce students: They [online students] try to do it by phone, and I Â’m sure youÂ’ve experienced calling in here and trying to get someb ody to answer the phone. And a lot of times, there is a large group that do answer their
71 phones, that do return their phone calls, but like myself, if I have a student in front of me, I canÂ’t stop what IÂ’m doing to pick up the phone. Additionally, Staff Member A characterized the flex ibility of the institution as flexible but only as far as policy and procedure would allow : Actually, I think that we maybe are kind of, a litt le bit more flexible than we should, Â‘cause a lot of our clerks in the office they, they wanna go out of their way to help people but sometimes, itÂ’s jus t with deadlines and policy, it restricts us a lotÂ… Like a lot of studen ts, they try to, you know, they wanna get in late and like, well, if we donÂ’t set deadlines, whatÂ’s the use of them, you know. But, you know, itÂ’s just, i tÂ’s justÂ… We can only do what the policy allows us to do, but with me, IÂ’ d like to try to go out of my way to help students if I can, but thereÂ’s just so much we can do Â‘cause our hands are tied. Lastly, Staff Member C characterized the admissions and registration process for online and distance students as more difficult compared to face-to-face students. She advocated the need for a direct point of contact or specializ ed staff who only deal with online and distance student so as to mitigate issues. She stat ed: We need a specific department that if they want to continue to do this onlineÂ… Opticianry, they come from [a remote count y], they come from [a remote county], they come from [a remote city]. They need a direct contact so that the information can be put in prope rly from the very beginning, so that as they enroll in their classes, they donÂ’t get hit with all
72 the bad things. They donÂ’t end up talking to ten d ifferent people and getting ten different answers. Online/distance students described the academic pro gram as being flexible, mainly due to their ability to access content and f aculty when they needed to and the options related to attend labs sessions (n=6). New Online student C stated: I, actually, thatÂ’s one of the reasons that I enrol l is because they were very, very flexible. When I went to the orientation and I said, Â“IÂ’m working. I donÂ’t know if I can do that,Â” they said, Â“Oh, thatÂ’ s okay. You can do it online.Â” Then he said, uh, Â“You have to come Tuesd ay and Thursday mornings for the lab,Â” and I said, Â“I canÂ’t. IÂ’m w orking on those mornings.Â” And he said, Â“Oh, donÂ’t worry, youÂ’ll g o to a lab in your town, and this is not a problem,Â” and that was real ly good. Returning online Student A also mentioned the flexi bility of the program positively: I work fulltime and I have a family, and IÂ’m able t o still attend classes fulltime without really feeling as if IÂ’m stretched too thin, and thatÂ’s because you can take your, you know, be in class at midnight if you wanna be. New Online student D described the academic program as flexible but the college as not: Okay, I feel that the Opticianry is flexible and th at we can do it during our own time. We can watch the videos several times, r eview, take the test when we want to Â– or the, the quizzes, rather. Tha tÂ’s very flexible. The [college] has been nothing but dealing with stonewa lls. You know? I, I, just, I couldnÂ’t get a response from day one to tod ay about anything, on
73 any subject. I still havenÂ’t gotten a response from anybody at [the college] about anything IÂ’ve ever inquired about. The face-to-face student participant responses did indicate a somewhat higher level of flexibility with the academic program and lower frustration with student services; however, not to the same extent or in the exact same manner. On-ground students indicated they were able to easily speak w ith college personnel before or after classes in regarding to flexibility and acces sibility. Online/distance students reported a higher level of challenge when trying to reach or communicate with staff/administrators to resolve issues and convey n eed. Professional Culture and Practices All participants were asked a question regarding th e ways in which the academic program helped students understand what it meant to be an optician (see Appendix A). A disconnect was found between the ways faculty and s tudents perceived how professional culture and press are communicated and exposed. Fac ulty (n=2) identified seminars, conferences, and personal example as being the prim ary ways students are exposed to the field and conditioned to understand the profession. Students (n=8), however, expressed that labs and course content were the primary avenu es and methods used to communicate and promote exposure to the field. Faculty Member A described modeling and events a significant ways to convey cultural expectations an d practices: Our academic program helps students understand what it means to be an optician in many ways. We lead by example. Not only do we present information in class regarding the culture of Optic ianry but all [college] Opticianry Faculty live it. We speak at education s eminars locally,
74 statewide and nationally. We are members of many pr ofessional organizations; some of us are executive officers on many Opticianry boards. The [college] Opticianry Faculty coordinate manage and participate in many charitable events. We strive to lead by example and report all our activities to our students and encou rage them to participate with us in the events. Faculty Member B identified conferences and persona l example as the primary ways students are exposed to the culture and press of th e field: We heavily advertise whenever thereÂ’s an optical co nference, and [our state] has one of the largest organizations in the county, and we have three large conferences Â– one in [town A], one in [town B ], and one in [town C] Â– so we heavily advertise that and we have, um, reg istration fees are waived for students. We invite them to participate to participate to see the world of opticianry, if you willÂ… WeÂ’ve stresse d that, and I bring a lot of my personal experience into my teaching. And I t alk about real things that happened with real people and then the optical people. Students did not recognize conferences as a primary means for exposure to the industry or to learn more about the opticianry fiel d; however, most of the student interviewed were new students and might not have be en informed or encountered these opportunities. Most online/distance and on-ground s tudents (n=8), even the returning students, identified content, curriculum, and labs as the primary ways they learned what it meant to be an optician. New Online Student A talke d about learning content and the
75 various courses required when asked how the program helps her to understand what it means to be an optician: Well, I mean, when you take all these courses, they give you all theseÂ… I have taken like four of Â‘em. And each one has a se parate, you know, like anatomy and physiology, you learn something differe nt.You learn the diseases andÂ… You know, I never knew there was so many layers to the eyeball and I was like, Â“Oh, this is gonna be easy. Â” But itÂ’s not. ThereÂ’s a lot of information. New Online Student B identified what was taught and learned through course work as the primary way the program transmits professional expe ctations: Going into it, I really didnÂ’t know the difference between an optician and an ophthalmologist and an optometrist and now we do know of the difference and what IÂ’m responsible for and what th eyÂ’re responsible forÂ… just through the courses and teaching and lear ning and then describing things to us, I guess. Additionally, Returning Online Student A stated: I think the lab is really important in helping all of us to understand, because youÂ’re able to work hands-on, and you are f ace-to-face with others, and, you know, it provides a setting for di scussion and, uh, to really understand exactly what youÂ’re doing and how and why and the importance of, of it, and of the entire service tha t youÂ’re gonna provide. It may appear that this disconnect is not unique to online/distance students since all students expressed course content and labs as the p rimary way to gain insight into the
76 profession and understand the norms and cultural pr actices to be successful. On-Ground Student A also identified course content and labs a s being the primary ways in which the academic program helps to convey the professional c ulture and press: Everything that they teach is geared to prepare us to take the Florida State Boards, so IÂ’m sure they donÂ’t add anything else th at we donÂ’t need to know, so, I guess everything that weÂ’re taught is j ust very relevant to what weÂ’re gonna do in the future, Â‘cause our goal is to become licensed, licensed opticians, so, basically, everything that we learn is relevant. Well, I guess the lab courseÂ… IÂ’ve only taken one lab so farÂ… and it, so the lab is actually more of a hands-on, so that would proba bly be a class taken that would kind of correlate the real world, and al so tie in the theories. Â‘Cause like now, since IÂ’m only in the first semest er of the first year, like I have no idea like what real opticians do, so a lot of the courses are just, like anatomy and physiology, are just laying the gr oundwork. So, theyÂ’re just teaching like, the parts of the eye and stuff like that. Subjective Views/Connection The differences in accessibility between the progra m and the college carried through to online/distance student subjective views A distinction was seen in how connected a student was to the institution and to o thers in associated to with the program (student, etc.) based on academic program versus th e college. Most online /distance students (n=5) expressed feeling more disconnected compared to their on-ground counterparts. Faculty and staff (n=5) also perceive d a limited connection to the college but not to the academic program. Faculty Member A s tates:
77 As much as the Program tries to facilitate the conn ection of the student to the college, many of our Distance Learning Students report little to no feeling of connection from the institution to the s tudent. They report almost a lack of concern for the distance learning student in comparison to the on-campus student. [As for the academic program ,] we find the students feel very connected to the Opticianry Prog ram once they get through the red-tape of the college and actually st art our program. I feel we may do too much sometimes to involve all student s in our thoughts, processes, and activities. Faculty Member B also discussed the limited connect ion that online/distance student have compared to on-ground students: TheyÂ’re very connected to us [academic program]Â… Th e campus-based students definitely do [feel connected] who partici pate in student government and things... The [off-campus] group, th ey feel disconnected more and thatÂ’s a goal of, not to tell our family s ecrets, but itÂ’s a goal of mine [to increase the connection]... I thought that the Internet students would connect to each other more, and that hasnÂ’t h appened. Staff Member B perceived that online/distance stude nts were connected to the academic program but not as much to student services due to their location: For the opticianry students, I think on the departm ent side, theyÂ’re really well connected. I mean, I think theyÂ’re constantly in contact with [Faculty Member A], and his staff via email, primarily, but on the student services
78 side, I wouldnÂ’t say the same thing is true for the m because theyÂ’re not physically here. Staff Member C expressed the need to work to improv e the admission and administrative processes student encounter because it can shape th eir subjective view of the college: They start off on the negative and they just kind o f go through the system, unless they get lucky and they happen to come acros s the right person, the right faculty member, or the right staff, the right just the right person that can kind of try to help to turn it aroundÂ… Everythi ng else is done through the computer. If there were more attentiveness to t hem Â– a phone call, during the middle of the semester. Do a survey. Wh at about the process in the beginning did we miss? Because if you can fix the beginning, then the distance learning and all that, the opticianry prog ram, it just goes back to having someone go to the different areas and, and s cheduling a meeting. The online/distance studentsÂ’ comments reinforced t he perceptions of the faculty and staff. New Online Student B characterized her conne ction to the academic program and college in the following manner: On like a scale of one to ten, I would probably say seven. I feel semiconnected. I definitely feel more connected with t he people that IÂ’m taking this lab class with. We have like study gro ups, so we go over all of our courses together. So, with that part, I feel c onnected with these people. But I also, I donÂ’t know, I feel like you kind of build a relationship watching the videos, even though theyÂ’ re not directly talking to me, you still kind of feel like they are a littl e bit, you know?
79 Returning Online Student A described her connection to the program and institution as very low in the beginning but stronger after having completed four semesters: The first semester, not at all. In fact, the first semester, I really thought it wasnÂ’t gonna work for me. But now that IÂ’m really kind of used to their program and the process and, also, attending the la b where IÂ’m able to talk to other students face-to-faceÂ… because you donÂ’t r eally know what to expect and thereÂ’s not a lot of clear communication regarding that, so youÂ’re just kind of muddling your way through, thro ugh the processÂ… Some students expressed the lack of connection betw een students, as well, in light of some effort on the part of faculty and other stu dents to make connection. Some online/distance student expressed that those with f ace to face interaction might have higher connection levels compared to those who did not interact. New Online Student B stated: I think because of the distance thing, I think that thatÂ’s probably as much connected as, as we could be. We do occasionally g et like emails that thereÂ’s like, Professional Opticians of Florida is having a meeting. But itÂ’s usually like a weekday between six and eight or som ething up in Tampa, soÂ… I mean, if, if I had the time and whatever, I would definitely feel more connected if I could make it to those meetings and stuff, but just because of our location. New Online Student C attends lab at a private compa ny and has little face-to-face interaction with anyone from the program outside of traveling in for exams. She expressed a limited feeling of connection with othe rs associated with the program and felt
80 that there may even be an advantage on the part of those who do attend college-run labs and classes: I said that sometime if you go to the lab with the teacher, you get a few more information than going to lab with professiona l. And I, I kind of felt the difference a little bit on the, on the midterm, that they knew those few details that I wasnÂ’t aware ofÂ… Because the instruc tor, I think he does more than just the lab. Returning Online/Distance Student A stated that she didnÂ’t have any much contact with other online students her first semester and no con tact with any face-to-face student through labs. Returning Online Student B also descr ibed her connection to the college and program as low during her first semester: No, at first, I kind of just felt so, I wasÂ… I eve n explained to the instructor, I say, Â“IÂ’m feeling so left out.Â” And they was, they tried their best to make me feel like, Â“Hey, this happensÂ” and it all like happens at the, probably around about the end, then comes toge ther. Additionally, New Online Student C described her in teraction with other students as minimal, only seeing or communicating with other st udent during face-to-face examinations: No. It was really nice when IÂ… I did my, my midte rm in [remote city], so I got to meet some of the students but I, as far as online, I sent an email asking, Â“If youÂ’re in the area and youÂ’re going to the program, letÂ’s get together and meet.Â” Â“LetÂ’s have coffee at Starbuck Â’s, or meet at the library and study together,Â” and try to meet, and I didnÂ’t get one answer.
81 However, she did feel connected to the faculty: I will say that the relation with the instructor se ems to be a little more closer and more comfortable than I anticipated it. They seem to be more friendly, you know. ItÂ’s only through email, but i tÂ’s a little bit more friendly than I, well, anticipated, and it makes me more comfortable. They encourage you, theyÂ’re very positiveÂ… If you ask th e question, they donÂ’t just send you an answer, like, matter-of-fact, like make you feel that, you know, itÂ’s not a great question or whatever. ItÂ’s veryÂ… They seem to be very open and very flexible. New Online Student D characterized his connection t o the college as being more committed to seeing the work through than a true re lationship: How connected? Well, I guess IÂ’mÂ… What can you say ? I am, I guess IÂ’m as connected as you can be. IÂ’mÂ… WhatÂ’s the w ord IÂ’m looking for? IÂ’m committedÂ…[but] somewhat connectedÂ… I just don Â’t feel connected to [the college] proper. Conversely, on-ground students (n=3) reported a hi gher level of connection to the college and academic program. On-ground students re ported being able to participate in organizations and see college personnel face-to-fac e, which allowed for additional opportunities to connect, bond, and establish a rel ationship. On-Ground Student A discussed the extra-curricular activities she was i nvolved in and the desired to stay connected the program after graduation when asked a bout how connected she felt: I know that itÂ’s very important to stay active, so they have an association for the students, opticianry students, and I joined that, and there is a lot of,
82 um, different charity events across Tampa Bay that that association participates in. So, in the future, I wanna be, li ke what these people are doing now. I hope to hold an office position next year, and then even after I graduate and get my license with the State of Flo rida, I still plan to stay active with HCC, because itÂ’s such a great program. Rules and Procedures When directly asked, students stated that they had no issues or concerns regarding the rules and procedures associated with the academ ic program. The characterized them as being reasonable and fair; however, students bot h online/distance and face-to-face largely associated rules and procedures only with t he academic program, not the college (n=7). Almost all participants expressed problems w ith admissions, financial aid, and other college procedures but the students didnÂ’t se em to connect them as being rules and procedures. New Online Student B stated, Â“IÂ’d descr ibe [the rules as] pretty straightforward. They let us know at the beginning this is whatÂ’s expected of you. This is what you should learn and it, this is what you n eed to do to accomplish it.Â” New Online Student C related rules to the academic program, st ating: IitÂ’s, I think itÂ’s very good. ItÂ’s, all the rule and procedure are good and we have an instructor that really is behind us for that. So, if we donÂ’t understand something, or if we miss something, heÂ’l l tell you what to go back and read and what to do. Returning online Student B also characterized the r ules as acceptable in terms of the academic program but did not associate the administ rative processes with them:
83 I, as far as the rules, I think theyÂ’re great. I m ean, I havenÂ’t had any problems with any of the rules, any of the procedur es, because I think they really work. And they know what theyÂ’re doing to g et you prepared to pass the exams and to know what you need to know as an optician. On-Ground Student A described the rules and procedu res as follows: Well, they have specific things that they want each student to follow. When we have different assignments and, like we jus t had midterms, or this is our midterm week, weÂ’re supposed to follow specific rules and, you know, like studying for it, and like the coursework So, IÂ’d say they have a pretty clear direction. So, IÂ’m really appreciat ive of that, too. As evidenced in the previous section, faculty, staf f, and students all mentioned issues with the administrative processes associated with a dmissions, financial aid, and records. When follow up and probing questions were asked to attempt to make the connection, most acknowledged them as being relevant and relate d to rule and procedures but did not elaborate. Differences in Online/Web Usability Two distinct representations emerged regarding the Web space frequented by the population: the academic programÂ’s website and the college website. The academic program website was described as being organized an d easy to navigate. The college website did not receive as favorable of comments. B oth on-ground and online/distance students characterized the Web space in these ways, as did faculty. At the time of writing, a notification was posted that the academic program website was going to be overhauled and changed to be even more user friendly and helpf ul. Returning Online Student A
84 characterized the academic program positively and s tated that she had not encountered problems using it. New Online/Distance Student A st ated: That is the worst website to work with. I donÂ’t kno w if you get [another schoolÂ’s] website, but it is so user-friendly in it s website. I love [that school]. ItÂ’s so nice. And then you have, and the n I went to [this institution], and I had so much problems with them. Additionally, New Online Student B mentioned that t he college website was challenging at first but after time it becomes easier: Well, the first few times, like a little bit confus ing, just because I didnÂ’t really know exactly what I was looking for and how to get to where I was going. But IÂ’ve been on it, I donÂ’t know, a handfu l of times, and itÂ’s easier every time. New Online Student C characterized the college webs ite as Â“overwhelmingÂ” and that Â“there are a lot of, a lot of things. I mean if I, if I didnÂ’t go to the orientation before to tell me where to go for the opticianry program, I would have been lost.Â” On-Ground Student A described the two websites in a dichotomo us manner in terms of ease and navigation: The [college] website isnÂ’t that user-friendly, but the opticianry section is pretty user-friendly, because it gives you all of t he links in the process in which you have to register to become enrolled in th e program. So, that part of it was very easy. You can see Â– like, ther eÂ’s a section for current students and, at the time, I was a prospective stud ent, so they had a
85 different link for prospective students, and all yo u had to do was click on it and then everything was right there. Lastly, Faculty Member A reinforced the problematic design and structure of the college website with his comments, Â“We can sit down and go through the [college] Website. ItÂ’s a disaster. Students are asked to Â“go to the websiteÂ” for information. I know what I am doing and cannot find the information stu dents are responsible to know.Â” Question #2: Differences and Similarities in Percep tions The next research question sought to understand how differences and similarities in perceptions between students, faculty, and admin istrators contributed to hidden curricular issues; specifically, how do differences and similarities in perceptions between students, faculty and administrators contribute to hidden curricular issues? Themes related to this question from the faculty group inc luded: 1) Workload and Time and 2) Lack of Support for Online/Distance Learning Studen ts. Emergent staff themes for this question included: 1) Lack of Resources, 2) Prefere nce for Face-to-Face Interaction, 3) Academic Program Disconnect; and 4) Faculty Interfe rence. Lastly, emergent student themes included, 1) Student Services, 2) Faculty As sistance, and 3) Limited Interaction. Participant responses were then triangulated for si milarities and differences in an effort to reveal possible areas of misunderstanding and misin terpretation that would contribute to hidden curricular issues. Issues discovered during comparison included, 1) awareness of issues with student services but a lack of forewarn ing; 2) perception of faculty interfering in administrative processes when faculty felt that they were advocating for online/distance students; 3) a lack of understandin g of online/distance student needs and service avenues compared to on-ground students; 4) lack of resources to support
86 online/distance learning student initiatives and pr ocesses; and 5) agreement across all groups that the academic program was flexible and a ccessible toward their online/distance students. Faculty Themes Time. Both faculty members (n=2) mentioned workload and a mount of time involved as being aspects that were not expected when they star ted to translate and teach courses online and at a distance. Faculty Member A gave the following response when asked about unanticipated facets of online/distance learn ing: The amount of work it took/takes to manage a large online program such as the [the college] opticianry program. Managing a course online takes a 24/7 commitment. No longer do todayÂ’s students come to class, leave, and be done until the next class. Email and other onlin e communications tools allow for communication all day, every day and that communication must be managed all day, every day. Faculty Member B discussed the high level of work a nd expectations of students to respond to inquiries and grade: So, thereÂ’s, thereÂ’s that one dynamic which weÂ’re s till learning how to, how to have realistic expectations, in my opinion o f the faculty and the studentÂ… Pushing me into presbyopia too soon, needi ng reading glasses because of all of the time I spend on the computerÂ… we took in eighty freshmen, which is wonderful and, therefore, every time we open our in-
87 box, you know, so thereÂ’s the challenge of, you kno w, just keeping up with the workload. Lack of Support for Online/Distance Learning Proces ses. Furthermore, both faculty members discussed the lac k of support for online/distance learning processes in areas of stud ent services and instruction technology/design. Faculty Member A discussed the n eed for the academic program to create an orientation module for online/distance st udents due to resource issues: To combat the lack of resources HCC has for distanc e learning students, we require our students complete an online orientat ion. This orientation was created by the opticianry program to address th e admissions requirements of [the college] and to present import ant information about the opticianry program to interested prospective st udents. Faculty Member B mentioned the need for more suppor t in the area of instructional technology and design from the institution: We definitely need more support. We have [Faculty Member A], which, which makes our department thrive. But quite frankl y, his job is a faculty member, not an ITÂ… because what he should be doing is, is focusing on developing his, his lectures and his teaching metho dologies. I think all the colleges who expect that the faculty will do it wit hout a heavy, heavy IT support presence and we donÂ’t have it. Additionally, Faculty Member B spoke about the need to improve the admissions process for online/distance students:
88 If, if the whole thing, could be mainstreamed onlin e. Absolutely. It and a staff, with one or two or however many our budget a llows with, our FTEs, if we track online versus face-to-face FTEs whoÂ’s d evoted only to estudents, because their needs are different. Staff Themes Four major themes emerged from the staff interviewe d for the study. These themes included: 1) lack of resources; 2) preferenc e for face-to-face interaction with students; 3) disconnect from the academic programÂ’s inner-workings; and 4) faculty interference in student services procedures. Lack of Resources. All staff (n=3) interviewed indicated that a lack o f adequate resources their ability to fully serve their student population. Staff Memb er B discussed the limited ability of staff to address all student demand by stating, Â“Bu t, I mean, in [the college], in general, itÂ’s difficult, because there are not enough staff resources to meet the student needs.Â” Staff Member A stated that there was a limited numb er of staff available to serve students which interferes with being able to provide assista nce when needed: I mean I know our office is, I would say, itÂ’s, itÂ’ s not always staffed properly. I mean, we are a little understaffed, an d I know that sometimes it may be hard to get a hold of us, because, not be cause we, weÂ’re not ignoring people, but because our window customers a re our priority. So, if, if theyÂ… I mean not saying that we donÂ’t try o ur hardest, like I saidÂ… and I like to try to take care of them, but, I mean Â… But, yeah, I mean, like I said, it is a little tough, because we, we donÂ’t, we donÂ’t have enough
89 manpower, like we would like to have. I mean if we had a little, just twice the staff that we have, I would say that, yes, we w ould have a great, you know experience for the students. Lastly, Staff Member C mentioned the recent growth in enrollment and its limiting effect on their ability to serve students by stating, Â“WeÂ’ ve grown so much and even just this past registration, even though we have seven adviso rs right now, we can barely handle whatÂ’s going onÂ… It would help our students to brin g more bodies in.Â” Preference for Face-to-Face Interaction. All staff members (n=3) interviewed also mentioned a preference for working with students face-to-face interaction versus onlin e or through other electronic means. Staff Member B stated: It makes them more successful, as long as youÂ’re no t enabling and going too far, you know, it can, help them to have somebo dy to touch base with on a regular basis in person, as well, because some times people just donÂ’t get the same experience over the phone or onlineÂ… I mean on the one hand, sometimes I think, Â“Well, if itÂ’s something r eally major and youÂ’re only three or four hours away, you can get in your car and drive here,Â” but I understand people have lives and other things goi ng on so, you know, that would be one of the biggest challenges. Staff Member C also mentioned the use of face-to-fa ce meetings to help resolve online and distance student issues: And if the college isnÂ’t gonna offer [beginning and end year meetings with students], then the college needs to use one of the recruiters to go
90 wherever they need to go, and sit down, schedule a meeting with ten of the students, fifteen of the students, sit down with th em, go through their records. ThatÂ’ll help smooth it out. Make sure th at they have all their opticianry classes, that they donÂ’t have Â“IÂ”s [inco mplete grades] sitting there, that kind of stuff. Finally, Staff Member C later stated that face-to-f ace meetings and interactions were a better way of working with and resolving online and distance student issues: It goes back to the basic, itÂ’s kind of like a hosp ital. You can have all the computers in the world that you want, but if you do nÂ’t have human contact, a personÂ’s really not gonna get better. I tÂ’s kind of like the distance learning. We have a lot of knowledge with in the institution, you can try and talk to somebody on the phone, but typi cally that one-on-one contact is what helps. You know, it makes everybod yÂ’s life better. Academic Program Disconnect. When asked about the academic program and how it fu nctioned or helped to teach students what it meant to be an optician, all staff members interviewed (n=3) communicated that they were not involved and did no t have insight into the innerworkings of the program. Staff Member B stated: I just really havenÂ’t been involved enough with the program. ThatÂ’s more something that they handle on the departmental side so I mean, no, I wouldnÂ’t say that IÂ’ve heard anything negative abou t the program, so thatÂ’s good. But I just donÂ’t have a sense of that.
91 Another participant talked more in general about wh at attending college can do for someone by the way of self-discipline but didnÂ’t pr ovide insight into how the program conveys what it means to be an optician. Staff Memb er A stated: With any program, when they come here and theyÂ’re l earning something, it, it teaches Â‘emÂ… discipline. You know, it, itÂ’s itÂ’s a form of boundaries, and thatÂ’s really good in the outside w orld, is to learn boundaries and procedures and how to dealÂ… And, an d college can, in a way, kind of help you deal with those things. I me an, it gives you structure. And I think being in opticianry or any program, you know, college, all about it, is learning how to stay focu sed and to achieve a higher goal in life and not just, you know, wander around aimlessly, so I think that helps. Lastly, when Staff Member C was asked how the acade mic program conveyed professional standards and cultural practices to st udents, she responded, Â“Honestly, I donÂ’t think I could answer that for you because min eÂ’s more the academic side. And, again, I donÂ’t have contact with them until somethi ng happens. So, thatÂ’s, that wouldnÂ’t be a good a question for me.Â” Faculty Interference. Finally, all three staff member participants (n=3) made reference to the high level of involvement the faculty from the academic progra m and how that has led to tension and restricted access between the academic program and the administrative department. Staff Member A stated:
92 And, [Faculty Member A] would come in a lot, at lea st we donÂ’t let him come in anymore, because [Faculty Member A] is a re al supporter of his students. He wants to get them in and out, so they Â’ve, theyÂ’ve not let him come in any more about thatÂ… I think that, um, the overall is, well, communication, at the same time, not try to take ad vantage of you know, the position. I mean, Â‘cause you have toÂ… I mean, I think if everyone realizes that itÂ’s hard all the way around, and tha t are willing to work together, then I think it works smoothly. Now, if, if someone tried to, you know, bully, because they thing that theyÂ’re, the o pticianry program is better than the other, other programs we haveÂ… that causes a problem. Staff member C discussed another instance how facul ty will attempt help minimize issues with the student services process by conducting the ir own orientation and gathering admissions documents: I know that [the faculty] does orientation, but not all of [the students] get into orientation on time. And even when he does or ientation, itÂ’s really not his responsibility to make sure they have their transcripts so that they donÂ’t get these holds put on them. And, in fact, I wish he wouldnÂ’t take their transcripts. I wish he would let it go throu gh the normal process, through the admissions office. Additionally, staff member C expressed how the prog ramÂ’s faculty have come to promote themselves as the primary point of contact for any questions which limits access to assistance and can cause confusion:
93 I would say [access is] limited at this point, beca use they believe their point of contact is the two of them [faculty member s], and theyÂ’re very busy people and if they canÂ’t get back to them righ t away, thatÂ’s when the student typically starts calling around and looking for an advisor. More communication needs to happen on that. Finally, Staff Member C expressed the desire of tho se involved with the academic program to shadow staff during heavy student-traffi c time and eluded to tension that has been created between the program and department: Most importantly, I would love one time during heav y registration to have the administrators and faculty come into our area, sit at our desks for several days just to get the feel of what itÂ’s real ly like, to understand that itÂ’s not always necessarily the employee that is wr ong; so that they can understand when someone takes a book and throws it at you. To hear what these people are saying. Just to have that experien ce. They think itÂ’s very easy. Student Themes Three themes emerged from the student participants: 1) Student services; 2) Faculty Assistance; and 3) Limited Interaction. Student Services. All online/distance students (n=6) interviewed refe renced issues with student services processes. New Online Student A described student services as being challenging for students:
94 I see people in my class that they donÂ’t even know if their credits are gonna transfer over and stuff, because no one gets a hold of them, they donÂ’t tell anyone there. So, I had a, you know, a b ad experience with that. And I had to, I just had to keep calling people to make sure they got my diploma and anything else that they needed. Additionally, New Online Student B also described i ssues with student services, particularly with financial aid and communication f rom those in the department: Yes, and I did not have a good experience with that and IÂ’m still dealing with [financial aid]Â… like two months ago, they sen t me an email that they needed a student acknowledgement form from me. I s canned it back to them, emailed it to them, probably three or four ti mes. No response, and so I got the DeanÂ’s email address and he still hasn Â’t even responded to my email. And IÂ’m to the point, like, itÂ’s been two m onths now, they could at least respond and tell me my status. Am I in a wai ting line, or, you know, whatÂ’s going on? Furthermore, New Online student C mentioned having problems communicating with the financial aid department and identifying staff memb ers who can provide assistance: You get no answer back, no nothing. You have to ca ll them a hundred million times before you can go through somebody. You donÂ’t know whoÂ’s taking care of you. This is really bad, and s o that part was really bad. Returning Online Student A noted problems with stud ent services receiving transcripts which caused a delay in registration and starting h er coursework:
95 IÂ’ve had to mail college transcripts several times, the high school transcripts were lost and both semesters Â– IÂ’m in m y second semester Â– but both semesters, it was hard to actually register fo r classes and get my books, because they, you know, kept losing that pap erwork. So, it puts you behind, essentially, when you start class. I think I started this time four weeksÂ’ behind. New online Student D expressed issues with the coll ege admissions process: So, it, there was one delay after another, after an other, as they went round and around and around. Â“But you need to this.Â” Â“N o, but you donÂ’t need to do that.Â” Â“Oh, but you checked with this person ?Â” Â“Oh, oh, well, youÂ’ve already done that. Oh, you already have thi s. Oh, you donÂ’tÂ…Â” Round and around and around for weeks, to the point where I thought I was really gonna lose the whole thing. I was gonna lose it just by, just incompetency. Furthermore, New Online Student D discussed a situa tion with student services that was still ongoing at the time of the interview: So, IÂ’ve called them. IÂ’ve left messages on their phone. IÂ’ve emailed them. And I get no response. IÂ’ve gone through [ email] system to email them; I get no response, saying, Â“I, this was a mis take on my part. I am not financial aid. I am Rapid Recovery, one hundre d percent. Please erase this from my record, because it doesnÂ’t apply ,Â” so that, you know, I donÂ’t, when I go through two years of this schoolin g, at the end, IÂ’m not
96 prevented from graduating due to some bureaucratic faux pas.And they just donÂ’t take it down, and they donÂ’t respond. Lastly, Returning Online Student B talked about how physical distance from the institution made it difficult to resolve issues wit h student services. Ultimately she was required to drive several hours on a couple of occa sions to work out problems: It was, it was crazy because of the simple fact tha t IÂ’m in [another part of the state] and I was trying to sign up for classes for that fall, and I had all my funds there ready to be used, but it was like ce rtain papers that I had to sign. I couldnÂ’t do the online signing thingÂ… I had to make a trip there before I could get everything finalizedÂ… But it wa s just the fact that I gotta go all the way to [the college], I gotta stay in a hotel the next, you know, and then drive back. Faculty Assistance. The second student theme involved assistance from t he academic programÂ’s faculty. Five online/distance students (n=5) refere nced ease of communication and times when a faculty member from the program intervened o n their behalf to help resolve problems. New Online Student A stated: So, I just called one of the guys [faculty] in char ge over there [with the opticianry program]Â… And heÂ’s the one that got me m y ID number, because I didnÂ’t get itÂ… And then, once I got admit ted, I was supposed to wait for that number to come, and then apply for th e optician program. That never came about. So, I called [a faculty mem ber] and, right away, he got me my ID number.
97 New Online Student B explained how accessible and e asy it was to reach faculty when they have questions or problems: Well, we have the email through each course that go es directly to the instructors, so, any time that IÂ’ve emailed with a question or a problem, IÂ’ve gotten response, like the next day if itÂ’s a w eekday, you know; if itÂ’s like the weekend, then Monday IÂ’d get response, so, itÂ’s, I think, really easy. [Faculty Member B] has given us her direct o ffice line and told us when sheÂ’s in the office. I personally havenÂ’t had to call her yet, but I know other students that just call her and sheÂ’s th ere to answer questions and walk you through things over the phone, and I t hink that theyÂ’re there for you as much as they can be, as far away as they are. Returning Student A also reported an instance regar ding faculty assistance by stating, Â“[Faculty Member A] really has been the, the primar y one to, you know, be helping in any wayÂ… he helped with the transcript issues and the passw ord issue and, whatever. So, heÂ’s been the one to iron things out.Â” Lastly, Retu rning Student B stated that the faculty would help out when online/distance students had is sues with administrative processes: Yes, thatÂ’s what I was saying, in the beginning, th e administrative part, getting signed up there they were very, very helpfu lÂ… They were very helpful and they, they would go, actually, and I go t an email, Â“IÂ’m going to go and speak with the financial aid department t o find out,Â” you know, Â“why theyÂ’re making you do this, because you should nÂ’t have to do this.Â” Â“YouÂ’re, the way this is set up is that you donÂ’t h ave to come here for this.Â”
98 Limited Interaction. The final student theme identified was limited inte raction. Three online/distance students (n=3) reported limited interaction with ot her online/distance students in the program. When asked if she felt connected to others in the program, New Online Student A stated: When you go on the discussion board, somebody who w anted to email, like have a conversation with me, so I answered the ir questions. But that was only like twice. No one really uses that anymo re since from the beginning, Â‘cause I think everyone knows basically whatÂ’s going on and we donÂ’t have to use it. New Online Student B also mentioned limited contact with other students but cited discussion boards as an avenue for interaction: NoÂ… Well, we have like with discussion boards in o ur classes that are all online people. I guess those would be an interactio n. Â‘Cause like if someone needs help with something or for example, thereÂ’s a girl thatÂ’s trying to get more information on pediatric opticia ns, so, thereÂ’s like a few blogs and discussion boards going on about that, th at type of stuff. Finally, New Online Student C reported attempting t o connect with other student through email but without response: Not really. I donÂ’t know. I sent an email, tried to get in touch with other students and it doesnÂ’t really, you know, I donÂ’t k nowÂ… Now, I, sign up for the student opticianry thing, also, so, I donÂ’t know. WeÂ’ll see when I
99 get, if I get an answer from that, and if IÂ’m a lit tle bit more, because being so far from [the college], I donÂ’t really feel too connected. On-ground students did not report having concerns r elated to interaction with other students in the program. While some on-ground stude nts also mentioned problems with student services, themes related to frustration wit h having to travel hours to campus and the need to utilize faculty to resolve issues were not expressed. Differences and Similarities in Perceptions. Based on a triangulation of emergent themes between all three groups, five intersections linked to hidden curricular issues re garding differences and similarities in perceptions surfaced. These included:1) not communi cating negative information regarding student services; 2) differences in perce ptions regarding faculty involvement in administrative processes; 3) lack of knowledge rega rding online/distance learner needs; 4) agreement across all groups that the academic pr ogram is open and flexible; and 5) that a lack of resources exist regarding online/dis tance learning initiatives. All groups experienced issues or expressed concern with student services, but those aware of the existence of these issues did no t convey them to parties ahead of time. All faculty and staff (n=5) interviewed reported be ing aware of problematic trends and practices related to student services prior to new students encountering them such as difficulty with communication, lost paperwork, and delays in financial aid. Students also reported experiencing these problems; however, they were not told ahead of time of any possible issues they may encounter and/or were not given a strategy by staff or faculty regarding how to handle issues should they transpir e. In follow up and clarifying questions by the interviewer, all online/distance s tudents (n=6) stated they were not told
100 of any foreseeable issues related to the admission, financial aid, and other administrative processes associated with student services ahead of time. New Online Student B stated, Â“As the problems are here now, when I talk about it with people in class, thereÂ’s a few other girls that are having problems with financial aid as well, but beforehand, no, we werenÂ’t forewarned about anything.Â” The second area discovered involved faculty involve ment in administrative processes. Faculty (n=2) reported trying to help on line/distance students when they encountered problems with various administrative pr ocedures. This was verified by all online/distance students (n=6) through them conveyi ng experiences that depicted faculty taking active roles in resolving problems. Students also expressed high levels of appreciation for this intervention on their behalf. Conversely, student services staff (n=3) characterized faculty intercession as problematic a nd a disruption in their processes. As a result, accounts of faculty being restricted or pre vented from approaching student services staff to reconcile issues for online/dista nce students were reported by staff members interviewed. Thirdly, the staff members (n=3) who were interview ed all expressed a lack of understanding into the needs of online/distance stu dents. Suggested avenues for online/distance students to resolve problems all re sulted in face-to-face exchanges or meetings. Technologically facilitated solutions wer e not identified by staff and when asked about possible alternatives from face-to-face interaction, no practical suggestions were offered. Based on the staff interviews, studen t services approach online/distance student in the same way face-to-face students are p rovided service. While some services and processes involved online delivery such as the application process, more face-to-face
101 avenues for on-ground students existed for the reso lution of issues due to their close proximity to the college. Next, all groups, faculty, staff and students, inte rviewed (n=14) agreed that the academic program was highly accessible and flexible to student need. Both faculty perceived themselves and the academic program to be highly accessible and flexible. This observation was supported by the online/distan ce students who were interviewed. They expressed being able to easily contact and rec eive fast replies from faculty through email and phone. Additionally, online/distance stud ents expressed gratitude and appreciation when faculty assisted with problems. S taff members also communicated that the faculty in the academic program were very helpf ul and champions for their students even though it would create frustration and tension between the staff and faculty in the academic program. Lastly, faculty and staff expressed a lack of resou rces for online/distance learner initiatives and processes. Both faculty (n=2) expre ssed limited resources for assistance in helping with the development and facilitation of co urse materials. A need for instructional technology support was communicated. Additionally, due to the lack of support for online/distance learners in student ser vices, faculty reported being highly involved in assisting students through the administ rative process and expending time and effort that could otherwise be devoted to instructi on. All staff members interviewed (n=3) conveyed a lack of resources and staff to address t he high demand placed on them by serving all students at the college, both on-ground and online/distance. Although these issues are known, none reported seeing any change o r movement to improve support services for online/distance learning. As of the wr iting of this paper, the college did move
102 to create a center for teaching and technology to b etter assist faculty with the design and development of hybrid and online courses. The resea rch was not aware of any plans to address concerns communicated by faculty related to student services for online and distance students. Question #3: Manifestations of Online Hidden Curric ulum The final research question explored in this study sought to understand how hidden curriculum manifests in online and distance learning environments; specifically, how does hidden curriculum manifest in online and d istance learning environments? While this question is broader in scope and is limi ted to institutional and organizational systems, two global themes were identified: 1) Supp ort Functions (Student Services and Instructional Technology), 2) Advocacy, and 3) Conv eying the Profession. Support Functions As evidenced previously, issues related to student services and instructional support for faculty were expressed by students, fac ulty, and staff. Faculty reported issues gaining assistance with online course development a nd problems with student services processes for their online/distance learning studen t population. As presented earlier, Faculty Member B discussed concerns with the lack o f technical/development support followed by the need for improved student services processes. She stated that a faculty member in the department handled a lot of the instr uctional technology and technology support issues in the department (see previous sect ion for full quote). Staff expressed the lack of resources to handle the volume of work from all students, both online and on-ground. Also presented earlier, Staff Member A helps to summarize this theme through her statement regardin g the understaffing of the office in
103 which she works (see previous section for full quot e). She also described the problems students faced getting a hold of them because of st affing issues and acknowledged the frustration and challenges it caused for students. Finally, online/distance students also communicated the need for better support from student services staff when they encounter dif ficulty. Again, as stated by New Online Student B in the previous section, she helps to convey the essence of this theme from the online/distance student perspective throug h her statement related to financial aid. She expressed a lack of instruction and commun ication with the department in light of having attempted to reach staff and the Dean on several occasions (see previous section for full quote). Advocacy A theme of advocacy was present throughout the inte rviews from all groups. Faculty members explained their efforts to help stu dents work through administrative and logistical hurdles, often going beyond what is norm ally required of a faculty member. Faculty Member AÂ’s statements help to illustrate hi s ongoing efforts The [college] offices continually ask students to c ome to campus. Some are out of statemany live hours from [the college ]. I say it is manageable by other means (email, phone calls, etc) but emails and phone calls are rarely answered. I am just today going back and for th with Student Services about emails being forwarded to me that we re not answered for more than a month. Students frequently discussed how faculty assisted them through issues and problems that arose and their appreciation for inte rvening. Advocacy, on the part of the
104 faculty member, led to the resolution of dilemmas t hat students may or may not have been able to reconcile themselves at a distance. Re turning Student A also reported an instance regarding faculty assistance by stating, Â“ [Faculty Member A] really has been the, the primary one to, you know, be helping in any way Â… he helped with the transcript issues and the password issue and, whatever. So, h eÂ’s been the one to iron things out.Â” Additionally, Returning Student B stated that the f aculty would help out when online/distance students had issues with administra tive processes. She expressed gratitude for the faculty member intervening on her behalf so she didnÂ’tÂ’ have to drive several hours to campus to resolve the issue in person ((se e previous section for full quote). Staff also expressed the desire to provide a high l evel of service to all students but limitations in resources seem to tarnish the depart mentÂ’s efforts. Staff Member C, however, provided a good summation of how advocacy can shape the experience of an online student. She stated: If the program manager or the faculty members are r eally involved people that, you know, really care about their students; I Â’ll hear wonderful things. And then there are some that are just here, you kno w, for the paycheck or theyÂ’ve been here for a period of time, theyÂ’re tir ed, theyÂ’re burnt out. While on-ground students made limited references an d also spoke positively about the efforts of faculty to assist them, the extent to wh ich they relied on such advocacy was seemingly less compared to the online/distance lear ning students. Conveying the Profession Unrelated to support and advocacy was the theme of conveying the profession. Faculty felt they presented professional expectatio ns through seminars, personal example,
105 and conferences. Student expressed a different pers pective by identifying labs and course content as the primary means by which they would le arn what it meant to be an optician. Furthermore, staff did not express any insight or u nderstanding into how the academic program conveyed the profession to student. This th eme is unique from support functions and advocacy due to its focus on academic program c ulture versus the institutional culture. As referenced prior, Faculty Member A desc ribed modeling and participating in outside events as the primary avenues to convey the profession (see previous section for full quote). Conversely, online Student A identifie d course content and labs as being the primary ways in which the academic program helps to convey the professional culture and press (see previous section for full quote). Conclusion This chapter provided an account of participants li ved experiences as related to the research questions being explored in this study Fourteen participants were interviewed over the course of four months (August 2009 to November 2009) to discuss their perceptions and experiences as they related t o hidden curricular issues that manifest in online learning environments. Data was then anal yzed and presented in a narrative format to answer the following research questions: How do organizational and institutional systems con tribute to the manifestation of hidden curricular issues? How do differences and similarities in perceptions between students, faculty, and administrators contribute to hidden curricular issu es? How does hidden curriculum manifest in online and d istance learning environments?
106 A detailed overview of the setting, data collection procedure, and sample population was described. Next, the emergent topics related to various organizational and institutional systems were presented such as subjec tive views, environmental press, social climate, college and program cultures, rules, and p rocedures. Themes related to this line of questioning and research question were: 1) Acces sibility/Flexibility Differences; 2) Disconnect in Conveying and Perceiving the Professi onal Culture; 3) Disconnected from College; and 4) Differences in Website Usability. Results related to the second research question we re then reported by participant type: faculty, staff, and student. Themes from the faculty group included: 1) Workload and Time and 2) Lack of Support for Online/Distance Learning Processes. Emergent staff themes for this question included: 1) Lack of Resou rces, 2) Preference for Face-to-Face Interaction, 3) Academic Program Disconnect, and 4) Faculty Interference. Lastly, student themes for this area included, 1) Student S ervices, 2) Faculty Assistance, and 3) Limited Interaction. Themes from all groups were then triangulated to in vestigate hidden curricular issues regarding differences and similarities in pe rceptions surfaced. These included:1) not communicating negative information regarding st udent services; 2) differences in perceptions regarding faculty involvement in admini strative processes; 3) lack of knowledge regarding online/distance learner needs; 4) agreement across all groups that the academic program is open and flexible; and 5) t hat a lack of resources exist regarding online/distance learning. Finally, global themes that emerged from the interv iews were presented in response to the final research question: 1) Support Functions, 2) Advocacy, and 3)
107 Conveying the Profession. The next chapter will con clude the dissertation by providing reflection on the results revealed in chapter 4 and presenting implications for practice and future research.
108 Chapter Five Discussion Introduction This chapter provides an overview of the study and discusses the results presented in chapter four regarding hidden curricular issues in online and distance learning environments using an ecological perspective. This study used a qualitative phenomenological approach situated in a case study to gather the lived experiences of fourteen participants (faculty, staff, and students ) associated with an online academic program. Interview transcripts and the researcher r eflective journal were analyzed, coded for themes, and then presented in narrative form or ganized by the three research questions. The frequency of participants referenci ng each theme along with direct quotes were used to support the validity of the themes dis covered and provide a thick, rich account of the phenomenon in the participantÂ’s own words. Chapter five is organized into six sections. A summ ary of the study is presented first, followed by a discussion of each research qu estion and their themes. Related literature is tied back in to strengthen validity a nd better illustrate the conclusions and overall dialogue. Next, various limitations associa ted with the study are presented, followed by implications for practice, questions ra ised as a result of thematic discovery, and future research. The chapter is concluded with closing thoughts.
109 Summary of Study Hidden curricular issues have been characterized in the literature as unspoken or implicit norms, values, expectations, skill sets, k nowledge, and social processes that have an impact on the experiences of those operating wit hin a learning environment. For distance and online learners, hidden curriculum can take on new or varied concerns as compared to their on-ground counterparts due to the uniqueness of the environment, tools, and resources involved such as multimedia, c omputer-mediated environments, learning management systems, and electronic communi cation modes. Coupling this perspective with an ecological approach allows for greater understanding of the full range of potential factors that distance and online stude nts may encounter as they navigate their educational experience. To this end, this study exp lored hidden curriculum in the broader sense as seen in the literature to include issues a nd factors from the entire educational environment. Using an expanded, holistic framework allowed for a more comprehensive understanding of the implicit challenges that onlin e student may face both in and out of the classroom. Various theories and lines of research from the lit erature on hidden curriculum and campus ecology, as outlined in chapter two of t his study, were used to help formulate the questions and guide the analysis of the intervi ews. Specifically, issues related to institutional and organizational systems such as pr ess, climate, rules, regulations, and processes were focused on due to the likelihood of a student to initially encounter them as they gain entry into the academic environment. Recr uitment, admission, and advisement into the program must transpire before a student wi ll interact with a learning management system or encounter assignments. The various agents structures, and players that
110 function in the environment all have the potential to act upon and influence the experiences of a student. Three research questions were explored in this stud y: How do organizational and institutional systems con tribute to the manifestation of hidden curricular issues? How do differences and similarities in perceptions between students, faculty, and administrators contribute to hidden curricular issu es? How does hidden curriculum manifest in online and d istance learning environments? Three groups of participants associated with and in volved in an online academic program were interviewed to provide insight into th eir lived experiences and perspectives surrounding various issues related to hidden curric ulum. A total of fourteen people were interviewed including three staff members, two facu lty members, and nine students. Transcripts were analyzed and themes identified usi ng OliverÂ’s (2004) criteria for data selection (e.g. presence of multiple references mad e across individuals concurring with previous research, majority indicating significance or in-depth responses indicated thematic significance). Themes related to the first research question emerged as: 1) Accessibility/Flexibility Differences; 2) Disconnec t in Conveying and Perceiving the Professional Culture; and 3) Disconnected from Coll ege; and 4) Differences in Website Usability. Themes related to the second research we re reported according to each participant group (faculty, staff, and student) the n compared for similarities and discrepancies. Themes in this area for the faculty group included: 1) Workload and Time and 2) Lack of Support for Online/Distance Learning Processes. Emergent staff themes
111 for this question included: 1) Lack of Resources, 2 ) Preference for Face-to-Face Interaction, 3) Academic Program Disconnect, and 4) Faculty Interference. Lastly, student themes for this area included, 1) Student S ervices, 2) Faculty Assistance, and 3) Limited Interaction. Finally, global hidden curricular issues associated with institutional and organizational systems related to this case study m anifested in the forms of support functions, advocacy, and conveying the profession Faculty and staff reported the need for institutional support mechanisms to assist in execu ting services and creating course content for distance and online learners. Gaps in s upport services were confirmed by the student participants, as well. Furthermore, the pre sence of strong faculty advocacy for distance and online learners resulted in positive s tudent experiences, especially in times of distress associated with institutional processes and procedures. This is in contrast to a lack of advocacy from student support personnel who did not exhibit or showed limited understanding into the needs of distance and online learners. These themes are related to hidden curriculum through their ability to effect t he experiences of distance and online students in an implicit manner. The lack (or presen ce) of support functions and advocacy can create a campus press/culture and shape the exp erience of the student which in turn can influence outcomes such as success, attitudes, behaviors, and persistence. Research Question #1 The first research question sought to understand ho w various organizational and institutional systems contribute to the manifestati on of hidden curricular issues. This question was addressed through the interview protoc ol by asking open ended questions related to admissions and recruitment processes, pe rceived level of institutional/program
112 accessibility, perceived level of institutional/pro gram openness, perceived level of institutional/program flexibility, experience with institutional/program rules/procedures, and perceived conveyance of the professional cultur e by the program (see Appendix A). Other general open ended questions were also asked to allow for issues or topics to emerge not anticipated by the researcher. Emergent themes related to this question included: 1) Accessibility/Flexibility Differences; 2) Disconnect in Conveying and Perceiving the Professional Culture; and 3) Disconn ected from College; and 4) Differences in Website Usability. Accessibility/Flexibility Differences Themes related to perceived levels of accessibility and flexibility of the institution were found in the results. Strange and Banning (200 1) described this aspect of a campusÂ’s ecology as the organizational environment which involves such matters as rules, processes, procedures, and the overall clima te created through the intersection of these variables. Institutions can be perceived as f lexible or rigid, fixed or fluid, and/or dynamic or static depending up on how the organizat ion conducts itself. The social climate found within an environment has also been f ound to effect behavior, mood, health, well-being, and the overall development of a person (Moos 1974, 1979). Factors such as mutual support, involvement, opportunities for personal growth, and the extent to which the environment is orderly and clear can all influence those who operate within the environment. Furthermore, the effects an educationa l environment has on shaping learning and development, both in and out of the cl assroom, have also been examined (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991/2005). Classes and st udent services that are intentional and systematically structured to actively engage and su pport students will result in higher
113 levels of achievement, learning, and persistence. T his includes areas such as advising and admissions (Margolis, 2001; Margolis & Romero, 1998 ). Faculty and online students reported having systema tic problems navigating and gaining access to various student services function s. Even staff members loosely admitted to having limitations and restrictions on how well they can serve online and distance students. Accessing services related to admissions and financial aid at the institutional level often required students to come to the colleg e face-to-face which caused difficulty for students taking classes online or at a distance from the college. Additionally, staff members did not make a distinction between the need s of face-to-face students and online/distance students. Students who lived hours away were expected to drive in and meet with staff to resolve issues. Conversely, faculty, students, and staff all descri bed the level of accessibility and flexibility on the part of the academic program to be very high. Faculty characterized their level of accessibility and flexibility to stu dent need as being excellent. Students reported being able to email faculty with questions with quick response rates and indicated the willingness of faculty to offer a div erse range of lab practical opportunities to meet student schedules. Additionally, staff memb ers associated with the academic program described them as being open and supportive of their online students. This dynamic illustrates how a positive, accessible and supportive environment can foster openness and success compared to those w hich are closed, cumbersome, and restrictive. In this case we saw a higher level of awareness related to online and distance student need on the part of the faculty compared to the staff which resulted in more positive comments and overall perception of the aca demic program compared to the
114 institution. Often times the culture of an institut ion is not apparent to the players who come into contact and operate within it beforehand, especially students since they cycle through the system at faster rates than faculty and staff. This can be compounded for online and distance students since they rely heavil y on electronic and computer-mediated means to interact and communicate with the institut ion and/or academic program. According to related literature on the topic, makin g those who have control over the various institutional and organizational processes, procedures, and rules more aware of their ability to shape perception and success could result in higher achievement rates, increased levels of persistence, and positive perce ption. Disconnect in Conveying and Perceiving the Professi onal Culture Educational environments have been shown to have in fluence over how students view themselves in terms of social relationships an d identity by way of unofficial expectations, unintended learning outcomes, and imp licit messages (Anyon, 1980; Apple, 1980, 1982; Dreeben, 1968; Eisner, 2002; Giroux, 19 78, 1981; Grant, 1992; Portelli, 1993; Thorne, 1993). Hidden curricular research foc used on higher education environments has also studied the manner in which a n academic field or discipline conveys their practices, expectations, cultural nor ms, and other nuances can impact and shape students. Biglan (1973) outlined a taxonomy t hat describes how academic disciplines approach looking at issues and research similarly and differently. This is echoed in DonaldÂ’s (2002) work on how each academic field promotes different thinking practices, knowledge paradigms, and general charact eristics. Bergenhenegouwen (1987) advocated that part of the hidden curriculum of hig her education was to convey how the profession of an academic discipline operates, incl uding cultural expectations, concepts,
115 and conduct. Ahola (2000) later refined this concep t as Learning the Profession discipline-specific expectations and nuances that s tudents must come to understand and model. Related to this study, faculty reported one perspec tive on how the professional culture is conveyed while students stated another p erspective. Primarily, faculty identified seminars, conferences, and personal exam ple as the primary ways students came to understand the professional culture while s tudents named labs and course content. This disconnect supports previous research and suggests the presence of a hidden curricular issue; specifically, that one group (fac ulty) feels that another group (students) is receiving information or guidance in a certain w ay (seminars, conferences, personal example) when in reality it is contrary to the way that group feels it is experiencing a phenomenon (labs and course content). Furthermore, for the purposes of this research, it could be suggested that the conveyance of professio nal culture does play a part in the global category of institutional and organization h idden curricular issues outlined in the literature review as evidenced by the discrepancy b etween these two participant groups (faculty and students). While the effects of such a disconnect were not studied here, related research would suggest the possibility of o utcomes could include misshapen identity, skewed social/relational understanding, l ower performance, and/or failure to persist. Disconnected from College The ways in which an organization or institution in terfaces with a student, by way of rules, procedures, values, and assumptions, can create a lasting impression. Subjective or perceived views about an entity or organization can be just as powerful and influential
116 as actual reality. Strange and Banning (2001) discu ssed how oneÂ’s constructed meaning can effect students. Based on their interactions an d experiences with all elements within an educational environment, learners create a reali ty. Pressures, demands, values, assumptions, and rituals culminate to create an env ironmental press that is promoted and maintained by administrative, academic, and student sources. This concept is related to BronfrenbrennerÂ’s (1977, 1995) ecological systems t heory which describes how the interactions between various subsystems, including social patterns and cultural entities, can influence a personÂ’s behavior, beliefs, and dev elopment. Phenomenon like culture and environmental press are challenging to explicit ly see but are often very easy to experience. Establishing a connection with an insti tution, even before a student enters into a classroom, is often a critical variable in s eeing positive outcomes. Noddings (1992) argued that schools should use their influence to p romote a sense of caring through systematically connecting personally with all who o perate and come in contact with the institution. By doing so, students would not only s ucceed but leave the educational experience with a positive and caring disposition. If an institution provides motivation, aspiration, and support, students will demonstrate higher levels of success (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991/2005). Online and distance learning students expressed fee ling less to connected to the college compared to their on-ground counterparts. T hey cited distance from the campus, unclear communication, and the inability to easily drop in or participate in campus organizations as the main reasons for feeling disco nnected. Conversely, online and distance students did report feeling connected to t he faculty and the academic program as a whole. Students cited facultyÂ’s caring attitudes, encouragement, and responsiveness as
117 factors contributing to their higher level of conne ction with the academic program. Faculty and staff also communicated having this per ception of the students not being connected to the college but feeling connected to t he program. Hidden curricular issues associated with this topic arise when the instituti onal press creates a feeling of being left out. Many students are drawn in to online and dista nce learning because of professed convenience and access but, as evidenced here, were faced with lack of support and attention from the institution. In this case, staff and the institution could create better avenues to communicate and respond to student need which in turn could create a better connection with online and distance students, as se en with the academic program. Differences in Website Usability Online and distance learners often rely on computer mediated environments and the Internet to communicate, obtain information, an d interface with educational environment for instructional and administrative pr ocesses. Usability and accessibility issues related to an institution and academic progr amÂ’s web space/presence becomes critical for online and distance education students The functionality and organization of a web site or portal can positively or negatively inf luence the experience a user (student) will have (Alessi & Trollip, 2001; Chandler, 2002; Luke, 2005; and Nielsen, 2000). Additionally, a website is an extension of an insti tution or organization. Care must be taken to ensure that the navigation of the site is as easy and simple as possible, particularly for students who are at a distance and rely on accessing information remotely through such avenues (Strange & Banning, 2001). Online and distance students reported having a posi tive experience interfacing and navigating the academic programÂ’s website. Faculty also characterized the programÂ’s
118 website as being organized in a fashion that was ac cessible, easy, and tailored to user needs based role (prospective student, current stud ent, and alumni). At the time of writing, a notice was posted that the academic prog ram website was going to be overhauled based on user feedback to increase effic iency, organization, and access. This indicates a greater awareness of and response to th e needs of the population the website serves. The institutional website was described as being co nfusing, complex, and difficult to find information through. Some students communic ated relying on others to help them find information while faculty expressed frustratio n with the organization because online and distance students are often referred to the web site for forms, online processes, and information. A hidden curricular issue arises when an authoritative entity is either unaware of the issues associated with their website Â’s organization/presentation or is not responding and adapting to user needs which results in negative perceptions. In this case, online and distance students are referred to a site (institutional website) that creates a barrier due to its complex layout and organization. Conversely, this case illustrated that websites which are organized and adapted based on u ser feedback and usability needs create friendlier environments that are easier to n avigate and higher levels of positive perception. Research Question #2 The second research question sought to understand h ow differences and similarities in perceptions between students, facul ty, and administrators contribute to hidden curricular issues. Themes from each group we re compared between one another and conclusions were drawn. Faculty themes in this area included: 1) Workload and Time
119 and 2) Lack of Support for Online/Distance Learning Processes. Emergent staff themes for this question included: 1) Lack of Resources, 2 ) Preference for Face-to-Face Interaction, 3) Academic Program Disconnect, and 4) Faculty Interference. Lastly, student themes for this area included, 1) Student S ervices, 2) Faculty Assistance, and 3) Limited Interaction. Triangulation of the themes be tween each group yielded the following intersecting issues related to hidden cur riculum: 1) not communicating negative information regarding student services; 2) differences in perceptions regarding faculty involvement in administrative processes; 3) lack of knowledge regarding online/distance learner needs; 4) agreement across all groups that the academic program is open and flexible; and 5) that a lack of resourc es exist regarding online/distance learning initiatives. Faculty Perceptions Faculty participants expressed a higher than expect ed workload and time comment regarding the facilitation and management o f their online program. One participant stated that the increase in access to c ourse content has resulted in an increase in student expectations for faculty to be available and responsive 24/7. A hidden curricular issue related to this theme may involve faculty not being aware of the time commitment needed to properly support and facilitat e an online course or program. Prepping or training faculty to understand the dema nds of facilitating online learning courses could help to alleviate this issue. The other theme expressed by faculty was the lack o f support for their online/distance learning efforts. Faculty communica ted the need for greater assistance in the creation and maintenance of their online course s. Resources such as instructional
120 designers and technology support were top items in need of being implemented. Adequate support must be given to assist faculty ex ecute successful online courses. While many faculty are being asked or even required to offer classes online, many are not versed in the variety of pedagogical and multimedia skills needed to create and facilitate an online course. Again, proper training and suppo rt could help to set good expectations and prepare faculty for the demands of online cours es. Staff Perceptions Several themes emerged among the staff participants First, they expressed a lack of resources to properly address the needs of their students, both on-ground and online. Mainly, they felt that more personnel should be add ed to meet the needs of student demand. Online and distance students were not viewe d as having different or unique circumstances compared to on-ground students. Most students likely assume that staff will be available to help them through the administ rative process, particularly when issues arise. Not having access to staff and person nel for students taking courses or completing a degree at a distance can create a frus trating experience, contribute to a sense of negative environmental press, and negatively aff ect outcomes for online and distance students. In times of budgetary limitations it may not be realistic to hire more personnel, other technological means could be implemented to a lleviate the workload and increase efficiency. Second, the staff members interviewed also communic ated a preference for faceto-face interaction. Online or other electronic mea ns were not seen as viable or desirable avenues to address student inquires or problems. In fact, a couple staff members did not see an issue with an online or distance learning st udent driving in to the campus to meet
121 with them. Others thought that face-to-face interac tion was superior and the only way that students should seek assistance. This can create a significant unforeseen barrier for online and distance students who are assuming they will be able to conduct business with the institution at a distance. Leaderships is needed to education or train staff in the various technologies that could be used to assist online an d distance students. Additionally, as mentioned by one of the staff members, dedicating s pecific staff to assist online and distance students could provide a consistent point of contact with student services. Next, a disconnect with and general unawareness of how the academic program worked was expressed by all staff members. Some sta ted that contact with the academic program did not occur unless a problem arose and re quired communication with a faculty member. Others stated that they didnÂ’t need to have insight into how the program worked. As advisors and admissions counselors, stud ents will approach such staff with questions about academic programs. It would seem he lpful if the personnel would possess some basic information and understanding in to the program to avoid referring the student solely to faculty additional runaround. Thi s increases the complexity and rigidity of the learning environment. Conversely, by not hav ing knowledge of the academic program, it could reduce any misinformation by dire cting students to the ultimate source of information. Ideally, advisors and counselors wo uld possess a basic understanding of the academic programs for which they assist student s. Lastly, staff saw the efforts of faculty to assist online and distance students through administrative problems as interference. As a result, a greater amount of tension transpired between the academic program and student services. One faculty member was even restricted from approaching staff members for assistance, claiming that it gives that
122 programÂ’s students unfair access. Another staff mem ber didnÂ’t feel that the faculty fully understood the demands of their position and welcom ed faculty to shadow them in hope they would realize the limitations and pressures wi th which staff are faced. The dynamic between faculty and staff has created an apprehensi ve working environment in various ways which contributes to a negative environmental press that can influence the perceptions and effectiveness of those who operate within it. Student Perceptions Several themes emerged from the online and distance student participants. All reported issues with student services in some capac ity ranging from lost transcripts to a lack of communication/response. Most participants s tated that they were not able to contact student services staff to assist with and r esolve questions. Even though emails and phone messages were sent, most did not get replies and were still wondering if their issue got resolved. Other students reported delays in bei ng able to register and start classes due to missing transcripts and financial aid holds. Whe n online students did receive a response, they were often told they had to come to the campus to resolve the issue in person; that staff could not assist them over the p hone or through other electronic means even though they lived hours away or out of state. Students who are completing a degree online often do not expect to be required to come t o campus to resolve administrative issues. By doing so, this creates an unexpected bar rier for online and distance students. Another theme that surfaced from the student group involved faculty assistance. Students characterized faculty as being accessible and easy to contact. When emails or phone calls are initiated by students, the faculty were quick to respond. Furthermore, students discussed numerous accounts of faculty int ervening when administrative
123 problems arose. Some students discussed how a facul ty member helped them with paperwork such as transcripts and financial aid for ms when student services was unresponsive. Another student had problems with her college identification number which was preventing her from registering. After at tempting to speak numerous times with a student services representative, she contact ed a faculty member in the academic program which helped resolve the problem. In this c ase we see faculty members who are advocates for their students, going far beyond thei r normal academic responsibilities. This approach has contributed positively to the env ironmental press of the academic program and the overall experience for the students The last theme from the student group was limited i nteraction. Most of the online and distance students reported having limited deali ngs with other online students. Those who had face-to-face lab experiences reported highe r levels of interaction, but for students who attend a lab at a third party company or facility, they expressed even higher levels of isolation. While some avenues existed for online and distance students to communicate with one another such as the discussion board and email, most students did not use them. This can contribute to a lack of conn ection to the program and institution as a whole. Student activities were offered in a faceto-face modality, but there were no online meetings or remote options to reach out to t he online and distance learning students. Looking into how student services could e xpand activities and club involvement for this population could assist in decreasing feel ings of isolation and separation from others at the institution.
124 Triangulation of Perceptions Based on the triangulation of themes between the th ree groups (faculty, staff, and students), five intersections surfaced. First, all of the groups interviewed discussed experiencing and knowing about issues related to st udent services; however, those concerns were not communicated to students ahead of time. The negative information regarding student services was held back and not ex posed until an encounter had occurred. While sometimes politically difficult, ex posing these issues ahead of time with online and distance students could help to set up b etter expectations and mitigate feelings of negative environmental press. Since students are at a distance, there is a possibility that they could internalize the issues they encounter wi th student services which could influence their perceptions, persistence, and achie vement. Ultimately, the negative issues should be rectified so online and distance students have a smooth and easy experience. Second, differences in perceptions regarding facult y involvement in administrative processes were found between staff a nd faculty. As a result of the problems with student services, faculty took on a h igher level of involvement in the administrative processes associated with admissions advising, and financial aid in an effort to help their students successfully matricul ate into the academic program. Staff characterized this involvement as being problematic and disruptive to their processes. Faculty felt they had no other choice but to increa se their participation in order to resolve problems on behalf of students who could not otherw ise contact or physically stop in to see a staff member in person. This dynamic can cont ribute to negative environmental press for online students and effect their experien ce and attitude about the institution.
125 Optimally, faculty and staff should work together t o resolve the issues between them and collaborate together to best serve their students. Third, a lack of knowledge regarding online and dis tance learner needs was seen on the part of staff interviewed. The predominant s olution suggested to online and distance students who were experiencing issues was to come to the campus for a face-toface meeting. When asked if they were aware of othe r means or modalities to assist in serving online and distance students, little to no insight was provided to accomplish it. This resulted in some students having to drive long distances and rent hotel rooms just to resolve an issue while others were still trying to find a fix through remote means and were unclear if the issue was resolved. For student s completing a degree or certification online, there is an expectation that most, if not a ll, of the processes associated with program will allow them to be completed remotely. W hen this is not possible, an unexpected barrier or requirement occurs that stude nts were not anticipating which can have negative consequences. Again, to mitigate the effects of this hidden curricular issue, staff and faculty must either expose to online stud ents the possibility of having to come to campus beforehand or resolve the issues that result in a student having to come to campus altogether. Next, agreement was seen across all groups that the academic program is open and flexible. Students reported receiving fast repl ies to inquiries from faculty. Even though staff had the perception that faculty interf ered in their administrative processes, they were viewed as advocates for their students. W hile this is not particularly an issue related to hidden curriculum since all groups are a ware, it was an emergent intersection regarding a similarity between groups. There is an opportunity for staff to model the
126 practices of the faculty to increase and rectify th e current problems in student services. This intersection could also be viewed that by havi ng knowledge of the needs and requirements associated with online and distance st udents, the implicit result is one of a more positive online student experience and possibl e higher levels of achievement, persistence, and understanding. Finally, faculty and staff both communicated that a lack of resources exist regarding online/distance learning initiatives. Fac ulty expressed concern regarding limited assistance to develop and maintain course c ontent creation. The desire for access to instructional designers and technology support w as communicated. Additionally, faculty felt that the student services systems and processes in place for online and distance learning students were not adequate. This resulted in increased time devoted to resolving issues and problems that should otherwise be spent toward their classes. Staff members also communicated a lack of resources, incl uding personnel, to address the needs of online and distance students. Although bot h groups are aware and attempted to communicate their concerns, higher level administra tion had not acted upon or addressed the issues. As noted previously, this can create a negative environmental press which affects the climate and culture of the institution as a whole. Research Question #3 The final research question sought to understand ho w hidden curriculum could manifest in online learning environments. Themes ac ross all research questions and subtopics were analyzed and collapsed into broader cat egories. Three global themes associated with institutional and organizational sy stems were identified as: 1) Support Functions, 2) Advocacy, and 3) Conveying the Profes sion.
127 Support Functions As evidenced in previous sections of this chapter, the level of support afforded to all groups (faculty, staff, and students) can have a significant effect not only the environmental culture, press, and expectations, but also perceptions, persistence, and achievement of those who operate within the environ ment. Faculty referenced issues related to course creation and design, technical su pport, and student services. The addition of instructional designers would provide t hem the assistance needed to create and facilitate their online courses in a more effic ient and time-saving manner. Furthermore, if the issues related to student servi ces were rectified, they would have more time and energy to devote towards managing the ir classes. Staff discussed the need for more personnel to aid in providing services to all student populations. It is also apparent that a better technical infrastructure is needed to alleviate the overload staff are experiencing which would in turn assist online and distance students. Students reported frustrations with administrative processes and proc edures that were not online-friendly. Additionally, students discussed how strong levels of support from faculty can result in positive experiences and easier navigation through the educational experience. Advocacy The theme of advocacy is illustrated through the wi llingness and ability of different groups who were involved with the online program to put forth extra effort to insure that online and distance students needs were met, particularly when as student was facing an administrative challenge. This theme can also be seen as a hindrance when advocacy is not present. In this case, faculty expr essed efforts to help online and distance students through unfriendly processes and issues th at were related to institutional and
128 organizational practice, procedures, and rules. The y would advocate on behalf of their students to help them navigate the system. Students reinforced the validity of these efforts by speaking about specific times when faculty assis ted them through problems related to admissions, financial aid, and registration. Gratit ude and relief was also expressed by students regarding the efforts of the faculty to in tervene. While staff expressed the desire to advocate for online and distance students, littl e evidence was found to support this claim. Mainly, face-to-face meetings were required if an online student needed assistance. This solution was not viable for most o nline and distance students due to geographic proximity, and other approaches were not explored by staff. Staff felt that limitations in numbers of personnel prevented them from assisting in a more helpful manner; however, other avenues to increase access t o staff support such as electronic mediated were not seen as favorable or preferred. Conveying the Profession The themes uncovered in the first and second resear ch questions (e.g. recruitment and admission, rules and procedures, accessibility and flexibility, web space, etc.) could be collapsed into the areas of support functions or advocacy. The theme related to how the academic program conveys the professionÂ’s cultu re and practices did not and warranted its own theme on a global level. Faculty will communicate discipline-specific expectations and nuances that student must come to understand and model (Ahola, 2000; Bergenhenegouwen, 1987; Margolis & Romero, 1998). I n this case, a discontent was seen between the faculty and students interviewed r egarding how professional standards and practices were expressed. Faculty felt that stu dents became aware of the profession and academic field through seminars, conferences, a nd everyday personal example.
129 Students expressed that labs and course content wer e the primary methods and avenues used to promote and communicate exposure to the fie ld. Staff reported having no insight into how the academic program conveyed professional expectations and cultural norms of the opticianry field. Although both on-ground and f ace-to-face students expressed the same themes, attention should be paid by faculty to how an e-learner comes to understand the norms and values of the field they are studying (Anderson, 2001). If such practices and expectations are not explicit in nature, misund erstanding can occur and important information could be missed, as could be the case i n this study. Limitations As with any study, various limitations are present. As mentioned in chapter 1, the findings are not generalizable to larger population s. Since the participants were purposefully selected based on their involvement wi th an academic program facilitated online/at a distance, the findings are only specifi c to that population. Other voices could have been left out of the sample despite the effort s of the researcher to ensure a diverse range of students. While the demographics of the participants were clo se to the actual population, there was underrepresentation of males and some eth nic groups. Male faculty comprised 50% of the participant sample which was in line wit h the college and academic program population (53%). Male students made up 11% of the participants compared to 31% of the actual population. Additionally, male staff mem bers were not represented at all in the sample even though they made up 41% of the college staff overall. Some ethnicities were also underrepresented including Hispanic, Asian, an d American Indian/Alaskan Native. Again, the purpose of this research was not to stud y demographic information or
130 variables so they were not controlled or considered ; however, consideration should be made. Even though every effort was made to identify hidde n or implicit issues within this particular case, there is a possibility that o ther issues may still exist in relation to institutional and organization systems. As mentione d earlier, the very nature of hidden curriculum poses a challenge to identifying and rev ealing hidden curricular issues. Additionally, academic environments are organic and evolutionary in nature which means the institutional culture, press, processes, and so on will change causing the possibility of new and different hidden curricular issues to emerge later. Furthermore, this case entailed a vocational academ ic program that required lab experiences and other technical aspects for the pur pose of preparing their graduates to be practitioners. The presence of this aspect may have yielded different themes compared to an academic program that did not require labs such as history, mathematics, and language. Academic fields that require a high level of practical or hands-on experience may have different manifestations of hidden curricu lum. A comparison of these two kinds of online programs would be needed before gen eral transferability could happen. Lastly, uncovered in this case was a fairly diminis hed level of support for online and distance education at the institutional level. It is possible that different themes could have emerged from a case whose infrastructure was s tronger and more supportive for online and distance students. However, there was a polarization seen regarding the level of support and advocacy offered between student ser vices and the academic program which could imply that the lack of support, regardl ess of area, can cause issues for online and distance students.
131 Implications Practice The findings have several implications related to p ractice. The issue of proper support for faculty and staff was seen throughout t he themes of this study. It is important that institutions invest properly into adequate res ources that can be used to assist those who work with online and distance learning students Procedures should be analyzed to see if online and distance learner and faculty need s are being met. Campus climate and satisfaction surveys could be used to assess studen t perception and gain insight into issues such as flexibility, access, and barriers. T his would also increase staff awareness and understanding into the needs of online and dist ance students. Resources should be available to assist faculty in the creation and mai ntenance of online courses such as access to instructional designers/technologists and training opportunities. Online and distance students should be able to conduct regular administrative business with the institution without the need to physically come to campus. Investment in technologies that allow for electronic signature and enhanced co mmunication would assist staff in serving the needs of this population. As seen in the results, online and distance student s could be at higher risk for not feeling connected to the college and other students Institutions and academic programs have an opportunity to create different avenues and try new ways to make online and distance student feel more connected. Increased con tact and attentiveness can have a significant effect on how and if a student feels co nnected, as seen with this case. Faculty and staff who interact and serve online students co uld increase ownership and follow up when issues present themselves. Additionally, the c reation of online student activities or
132 other support functions that on-ground students hav e regular access to could also help foster feelings of connection and improve the perce ived environmental press and culture of the institution. Faculty should be explicit about how the disciplina ry and professional culture is conveyed to students. Important norms and expectati ons should be outlined and worked into course content/documentation as they are revea led or discovered. Conversations could take place making greater connections between how what transpires in the classroom will connect to practical settings. Lastl y, the web presence should be easy to use and clear for the intended users on both the in stitutional and academic program level. Regular reviews should take place and feedback coll ected from those who frequently use the site. Adjustments and modification should then be made to better organize and structure the website. Questions Raised While this study did not aim to measure outcomes r elated to the uncovered themes, it is prudent to highlight the resulting qu estions provoked by the discoveries. The literature on hidden curriculum provides insight in to some of the outcomes and conclusions possible as a result of exposure to an implicit force or factor; however, there is the possibility that online students may have un ique or varied results. Based on the themes unearthed in this research, one could formul ate various conclusions and questions. First, what was learned (and not learned ) by the students as a result of the hidden curriculum present in this case? For example if the level of support, advocacy, and flexibility provided by a program or student se rvices division is diminished, will students feel a greater level of frustration that w ould in turn shape their opinion of online
133 and distance learning in general? Students who have negative experiences can form negative perceptions which can result in them avoid ing taking future online courses (or vice versa positive experiences which increase like lihood of taking online courses). Perception of an institution or of higher education in general can also be effected based on experience (either positive or negative). The ac ademic program in this study worked with a high number of adult students who were retur ning to gain more skills or change their profession. The level of access, support, adv ocacy, and flexibility experienced by these students could have an effect on how they per ceive higher education and if they persist to graduation. Second, what does the lack of support from the ins titution implicitly communicate to those working with, taking courses, and facilita ting academic programs through an online and distance learning modality? Additionally what other factors or services are insufficient or absent? In this case, the procedure s and rules in place often created barriers for online and distance learning students. Communication with support staff was restricted largely to face-to-face interactions and electronic paperwork processes were unreliable. Faculty expressed a need for increased instructional design and general technology support. Other areas of potential concer n related to online and distance learning support mechanisms may include technical i nfrastructure (streaming servers, digital storage space, learning management platform down time, etc.), opportunities for online student activities, library resources, and f aculty workload/time commitment. Furthermore, faculty could face burn out and/or dev elop a negative opinion of online and distance learning classes if workload, course devel opment, and time on task are overwhelming.
134 Lastly, how does the gap between the ways in which faculty feel they are conveying professional expectations compared to how students feel they are receiving them shape knowledge, skills, and abilities needed post-degree? For example, faculty felt that professional conferences and their everyday ex ample helped students understand the culture of the opticianry field while students emph asized labs and course content. It is conceivable that students will lack certain insight s into the field upon graduation. What aspects of a professional conference are seen as be ing uniquely learned in that arena versus being learned in the classroom or lab settin g? Also, what aspects of the lab experience and course content communicate professio nal standards to students that faculty are not seeing? Students may begin work pos t-degree without strong networking skills or the understanding of why it is important to stay current within the field (and the avenues through which to do so) that are often a re sult of attending conferences. Faculty may be missing out on opportunities to communicate professional standards and practices through labs and course content. Future Research The ability to generalize findings to other populat ions would require expanding the population and creating an instrument that coul d inventory and assess a larger population based on the themes and topics discovere d. While the lived experiences and perceptions of those working in this learning envir onment were unearthed and provided important insight, outcomes were not measured or ex plored in this research. Previous literature would suggest that negative hidden curri cular and ecological factors would result in lower achievement, diminished chance of p ersistence, and skewed opinions or perceptions. Some students expressed delays in regi stration while others mentioned
135 frustration with communication; however, it is not clear how hidden curricular issues influenced factors such as achievement, persistence and attitudes/beliefs. While this study was limited to the institutional a nd organizational systems, exploration other areas outlined in the literature review is needed. The three domains posited that are unique and/or related to online an d distance learning include: 1) learning environment functionality and architecture (metapho ric symbols, layout, design, appearance, computer skills/proficiency); 2) commun ication modes and messages (verbal, non-verbal, and textual messages); and 3) learning content and materials (images, animation, video, illustrations). A similar approac h to this study could be used to explore the manifestations of hidden curriculum related to these areas. Additionally, the outcomes of the themes/inciting agents discovered in this re search are also in need of further exploration. For example, how do varied levels of s ervices, advocacy, and flexibility effect the connection an online student feels to th e program and institution? What other services are insufficient to support online and dis tance learning endeavors, and how do the effect those working with such students and pro grams? How does the disconnect between students and faculty in conveying the profe ssion effect or shape achievement, performance, behaviors, and attitudes? What specifi c knowledge, abilities, and skills are omitted? Do the omitted professional practices put students at a disadvantage once in a Â“practicalÂ” setting? What hidden curricular differe nces exist between a vocational/technical online program and a non-techn ical online program? Lastly, the intersection of how all of these domains influence, overlap, and interact with one another should be studied to provide a comprehensive framew ork for hidden curricular issues that manifest in online learning environments.
136 Conclusion Institutional and organizational systems act on stu dents in an implicit manner which can have the ability to shape outcomes such a s achievement, persistence, and attitudes (Ahola, 2000; Anderson, 2001; Bronfenbren ner, 1977, 1995; Moos, 1974, 1979; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991/2002; Strange & Bannin g, 2001; Thorne, 1993). As seen in this study, various conditions and inciting factors were present that could lead to negative or positive results. Through proper support and adv ocacy, the probability of negative or lower outcomes based on how a student interfaces wi th the various institutional and organizational systems could be diminished; the rev erse could also be said. Opportunities arise for all those involved in the learning enviro nment to ensure that proper support is in place and that effective levels of advocacy exist f or online and distance learning students. This will require flexibility and willingness to ad apt the various procedures to meet the needs of the student population in question. Furthermore, the needs of online and distance stude nts could be better heard and solutions implemented. Even through faculty and stu dents communicated having raised issues with administrators and staff, in this case, little was done to make changes in the policy and procedures. This caused barriers unique to online and distance students and contributed to a rigid, inflexible educational lear ning environment. Websites provide a critical link for many online and distance student since they house important information and resources. Ensuring the web presence is organiz ed and easy to navigate is critical in reducing barriers and increasing access to resource s. Lastly, faculty should understand how they communicate discipline-specific expectatio ns, norms, and values and if student
137 are also receiving and understanding them in the sa me manner. Failure to do so could lead to misunderstanding and under preparedness. Hidden curricular issues will continue to manifest in learning environments, both on-ground and online, due to the organic nature of culture, communication, policy, and meaning making. Additionally, as new technologies a re created and introduced into learning practices, the implications of their use m ust be evaluated on a hidden curricular level. Educators must take a proactive role to seek out the implicit and unspoken curricular issues transpiring within their educatio nal environments in order for them to be interpreted, negotiated, and changed for the positi ve.
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144 Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology Columbus, OH: Merrill/Prentice Hall. Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2005). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Savenye, W. & Robinson, R. (2004). Qualitative rese arch issues and methods; An introduction for educational technologists. In D. J ohanassen, (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technolo gy ( 2nd ed., pp. 10451071). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Strange, C. C., & Strange, J. H., (2001). Educating by design: Creating campus learning environments that work San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass Snyder, B. (1970). The hidden curriculum New York: Knopf. Thorne, B. (1993). Gender play: Girls and boys in school New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Tyler, R.W. (1969). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Vallance, E. (1973). Hiding the hidden curriculum: An interpretation of the language of justification in nineteenth-century educational ref orm, Curriculum Theory Network, 4 (1), 5-21. Wren, D. J. (1999). School culture: Exploring the h idden curriculum. Adolescence 34 (135), 593-596.
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147 Appendix A: Interview Protocols Student Interview Protocol Institutional/Organiza tional Systems Focus 1) Describe the recruitment and admissions process for your program. 2) Describe the level of accessibility you feel you ha ve to college personnel. 3) How flexible do you feel the institution and progra m is to your needs? 4) Describe how connected you feel to the program and the college. 5) How would you describe the rules and procedures in place for this program? 6) Can you describe aspects of the program or educatio nal experience that you did not anticipate? 7) Were there aspects of the course that you anticipat ed happening but did not experience? 8) If you could change anything about the academic pro gram or college, what would it be? 9) How does your academic program help you understand what it means to be an optician? 10) What are the major challenges you faced or are faci ng in your program? 11) Reflect over all of the questions asked so far. Is there any further information youÂ’d like to add or clarify? 12) Is there anything else about your academic experien ces with this program that youÂ’d like to share with me?
148 Faculty Interview Protocol Institutional/Organiza tional Systems Focus 1) Describe the recruitment and admissions process for your program. 2) Describe the level of accessibility your students h ave to college personnel. 3) How flexible do you feel the institution and progra m is to student needs? 4) Describe how connected you feel your students are t o the program and the college. 5) What are the major challenges or issues your studen ts face in your program? 6) Can you describe aspects of the program that you di d not anticipate? 7) How does your academic program help students unders tand what it means to be an optician? 8) Were there aspects of the course that you anticipat ed happening but did not experience? 9) If you could change anything about the program or c ollege, what would it be? 10) What are the major challenges you faced or are faci ng in your program? 11) What differences do you see in the overall experien ces between the face-to-face students and the online students? 12) Is there anything else about your academic experien ces with this program that youÂ’d like to share with me? Administrator Interview Protocol Institutional/Or ganizational Systems Focus 1) Describe the recruitment and admissions process for your program. 2) Describe the level of accessibility your students h ave to college personnel. 3) How flexible do you feel the institution and progra m is to student needs? 4) Describe how connected you feel your students are t o the program and the college. 5) What are the major challenges or issues your studen ts face in your program?
149 6) Can you describe aspects of working with the progra m that you did not anticipate? 7) How does this academic program help student underst and what it means to be an optician? 8) Were there aspects of working with the program that you anticipated happening but did not experience? 9) If you could change anything about the program or c ollege, what would it be? 10) What are the major challenges you faced or are faci ng when working with this program? 11) What differences do you see in the overall experien ces between the face-to-face students and the online students? 12) Is there anything else about your professional expe riences with this program that youÂ’d like to share with me?
150 Appendix B: Email Solicitation for Participation Faculty-Instructor Participant Solicitation My name is Barry Hubbard and I am a doctoral candid ate in the Instruction Technology program in the College of Education at the Universi ty of South Florida. I am conducting my dissertation study on manifestations of hidden curriculum in online learn ing environments: An ecological approach I would like to ask you, your students, and administrators associated with your academic progra m to consider participating in my study. I would require an hour of your time to conduct an interview with the possibility of a follow up interview after several weeks for any cla rification. I would also seek your assistance in soliciting participation from your in coming (new) students, existing students, and administrators or support services pe rsonnel. Please contact me at email@example.com should y ou need more information and/or be interested in participating in the study. Sincerely, Barry Hubbard Student Participation Solicitation Hello! My name is Barry Hubbard, and I am a doctora l student in the Instructional Technology program in the College of Education at t he University of South Florida. I am conducting my dissertation study on the ways online learning environments influence and create unexpected expectations To participate, I would ask you to speak with me vi a phone or Skype a couple times and email back and forth with me over the course of thr ee to four months (August-November) and answer questions related to your online and aca demic experience at Hillsborough Community College and the Opticianry program. All c orrespondence will be strictly confidential; I will not disclose your name to any college faculty or staff members. I am also happy to share my observations and results wit h you when I am finished. Participation is voluntary and you do not get paid. However, for those who do participate, you will receive a FREE iTunes gift certificate OR a fast food restaurant gift certificate. If interested, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org u with the following information:
151 1) Gender 2) Age 3) Ethnicity 4) Number of online courses taken previously 5) Any other previous institutions of higher education attended It is my hope that through this research we can mak e your and future HCC online studentsÂ’ experiences better! Please email me back with any questions and/or if you are interested in participating in the study. Sincerely, Barry Hubbard
152 Appendix C: Informed Consent to Participate in Rese arch %rnnnr!nn&rn n'(nnnnrnnn nnnn &rr( '. r!( )r$**$" r/r!n%nn(n)r$rrr rrr0rr rrr# 1r n$r2r "nr/ nrr(n%$#rrr# r#n-# $rr1rr r .r""+ "/3n $nr "n"" &"r45564*71rr/%# 45*48r r"1rr" 9#/%$%n 1rrrr#$ %# $1r/&rrr$ rr 0$$2$9#/r!(n3rrn n"r" /$%(n)$r#"$$ rr n."r-nrr/&)nrn%r(n)#r#rr rr/
153 n!(nrnrr $:n rn)r"$$ +$r$r"$ $$r/)r1 rr$r" $/n%(n&rrrr#$/& rrr rr#rrn r" r$/3rr" r$$r" nrrrr/("r nrr ##r /)$ rrrr rr1r$ rr/%r$rr /%$%%# /%r"r #/ )rn"rr# r$"rr rr/.nrn"rr r#$/However, certain people may need to see your study records. By law, anyone who looks at your records must keep them completely confident ial. The only people who will be allowed to see these records are: Certain government and university people who need t o know more about the study. For example, individuals who provide oversi ght on this study may need to look at your records. This is done to make sure tha t we are doing the study in the right way. They also need to make sure that we are protecting your rights and your safety.) These include: o The University of South Florida Institutional Revie w Board (IRB) and the staff that work for the IRB. Other individuals who work for USF that provide other kinds of oversight may also need to l ook at your records. o The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). *rnr!+,r-(n3r#rr$ n/3r$ rrr#r$ r" "/3$rr /) $r" rr$$r n$r#"rr/! r $$rrr/
154 ."nr"nrn!n%$n1rrrr rr$ r '.;<7*487*=555 8>;6/If you have questions about your rights as a partic ipant in this study, general questions, or have complaints, concerns or issues you want to dis cuss with someone outside the research, call the Division of Research Integrity a nd Compliance of the University of South Florida at (813) 974-9343. Consent to Take Part in this Research Study It is up to you to decide whether you want to take part in this study. If you want to take part, please sign the form, if the following statem ents are true. I freely give my consent to take part in this study I understand that by signing this form I am agreeing to take part in research. I hav e received a copy of this form to take with me. _____________________________________________ _____ _______ Signature of Person Taking Part in Study Date _____________________________________________ Printed Name of Person Taking Part in Study Statement of Person Obtaining Informed Consent I have carefully explained to the person taking par t in the study what he or she can expect. I hereby certify that when this person signs this f orm, to the best of my knowledge, he or she understands: What the study is about. What procedures/interventions/investigational drugs or devices will be used. What the potential benefits might be. What the known risks might be. Signature of Person Obtaining Informed Consent D ate Printed Name of Person Obtaining Informed Consent
155 Online Informed Consent to Participate in Research Study Name: Manifestations of Hidden Curriculum in Online Learn ing Environments: An Ecological Approach Researcher: Barry Hubbard Participation: The research will be done face-to-face, through ph one, and email correspondence. Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this research is to learn how hidden curriculum issues (such as unexpected outcomes, implicit expectations, unspoke n requirements, and environmental factors) occur in distance and online learning envi ronments. Study Procedures: If you take part in this study you will be asked to speak via phone and/or email back and forth with the researcher and answer questions rela ted to your experiences at Hillsborough Community College and with the Opticia nry program. You will receive a phone call or email from my university email accoun t roughly every month beginning in August 2009 with 2-3 questions. It will take you ap proximately 20-25 minutes to complete answering the questions, depending on how detailed youÂ’d like to be. If I have questions about your answers or would like to follo w up with you, I will email you back with a follow up question. All responses are confid ential and you may use a pseudonym (different name), if youÂ’d like. Participation: Your participation is strictly voluntary and you ha ve the right to stop participating at any time. Benefits: The potential benefits include making a difference in the way online courses are delivered at HCC and other colleges/universities. Risks or Discomfort: There are no known risks to those who participate i n this study. Compensation: Participation is on a volunteer basis and you will not be paid for your time; however, all participants will receive an iTunes gift certificat e OR a fast food restaurant gift certificate, if they choose. This will require the disclosure of personal mailing information.
156 Confidentiality: All records and responses are kept confidential. Al l transcripts, communications, documents, and emails will be kept on a secure serv er and your names will be changed or not used in the final report. You may assign yourse lf a false name during the interview and email discussions. Nothing you say in the inter views or emails will be tracked back to you by anyone on the research team in any way. T he information will be used in a doctoral dissertation and may be used in subsequent articles for academic purposes. I may publish what we learn from this study. If I do, I w ill not let anyone know your name. I will not publish anything else that would let peopl e know who you are. The researcher will do everything possible to keep emails from being accessed by outsiders. However, due to emails traveling across the internet there may be minimal risk to confidentiality. However, certain people may need to see your study records. By law, anyone who looks at your records must keep them completely confident ial. The only people who will be allowed to see these records are: Certain government and university people who need t o know more about the study. For example, individuals who provide oversi ght on this study may need to look at your records. This is done to make sure tha t we are doing the study in the right way. They also need to make sure that we are protecting your rights and your safety.) These include: o The University of South Florida Institutional Revie w Board (IRB) and the staff that work for the IRB. Other individuals who work for USF that provide other kinds of oversight may also need to l ook at your records. o The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Voluntary Participation/Withdraw: You should only take part in this study if you want to volunteer. You should feel that there is any pressure to take part in the study fro m the researcher, your program, or college. You are free to participate in this resear ch or withdraw at any time. There will be no penalty, influence on your academic standing, or loss of benefits you are entitled to receive if you stop taking part in this study. Deci sion to participate or not to participate will not affect your student status. Questions, Concerns, or Complaints If you have any questions, concerns or complaints a bout this study, or if you experience an unanticipated problem related to the research ca ll Barry Hubbard at 813-253-7000 x5689. If you have questions about your rights as a partic ipant in this study, general questions, or have complaints, concerns or issues you want to dis cuss with someone outside the research, call the Division of Research Integrity a nd Compliance of the University of South Florida at (813) 974-9343.
157 Consent to Take Part in this Research Study It is up to you to decide whether you want to take part in this study. If you want to take part, please email Barry Hubbard at email@example.com sf.edu, if the following statements are true. I freely give my consent to take part in this study I understand that I am agreeing to take part in research. I have received an electron ic copy of this form to take with me.
158 Appendix D: Member Check Form Dear ___________________________________, Thank you for an enjoyable and insightful interview Attached please find a draft copy of the verbatim transcripts of the interview. Please review the transcription for accuracy and completeness of responses. Please feel free to con tact me at (813-253-7000 x5689) or via email at (firstname.lastname@example.org) should you have an y questions. If I do not hear from you by _________, ____2009, I will assume that you agree with the attached draft of the transcription. Thank you again for your willingness to participate in this study. Barry Hubbard This form was adapted from a sample member check fr om Janesick (2004, p. 227).
159 Appendix E: Peer Reviewer/Outside Reviewer Form I, __________________________, have served as a pee r reviewer/outside reviewer for Manifestations of Hidden Curriculum in Online Learn ing Environments: An Ecological Approach, by Barry Hubbard. In this role, I have w orked with the researcher throughout the study in capacities such as reviewing transcrip ts and assisting in identifying emerging issues. Signed: ___________________________________________ _____________ Date: _____________________________________________ _____________ *This form was adapted from a sample member check f rom Janesick (2004, p. 228).
160 Appendix F: Description of Institution and Academic Program The study took place at a large, multi-campus urban community college in the south and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The college has 1,116 full-time and part-time facul ty with forty-seven percent identifying as female and fifty-three percent identifying as ma le. Additionally, the college employs 1,121 staff members of which fifty-nine percent are female and forty-one percent are male. The college has an approximate annual enrollment of 44,598 students across over 150 degree programs including 18 associate in art d egree programs, 64 associate in science (or applied science) degree programs, and 8 5 certificate and PSAV programs. Fifty-five percent of the students are female (22,6 77) while forty-five percent are male (18,556). Twenty percent of the student body identi fy as African-American (8,456) and 22% identify as Hispanic (9,062). A schedule search of Fall 2009 revealed 256 course offerings through distance or online learning means and 285 for Spring 2010. Cour ses offered online or through distance learning must have 80% or more of the cour se content delivered outside of faceto-face meetings. Hybrid courses are also offered w hereby between 50-79% of the instruction transpires outside of face-to-face meet ings (exact number of these courses were not available). The academic program used for this study offers bot h face-to-face and distance learning modalities for degree completion. As of th e most recent college fact book, the
161 program has a total of 148 students enrolled in the program. Sixty-nine percent identify as female and thirty-one percent as male. The mean student age is 32.3. The opticianry faculty describe their program as only being one of two in the nation to offer the degree at a distance and has a near 100% job placement rat e for graduates.
162 Appendix G: Researcher Reflective Journal Sample (E dited) Interviewee : Online Student Date &Time : 10/7/2009, 2:00pm Location: Phone Observation DescriptionInterior Design A creative type of person; interesting choice to take on opticianry Positive She comes across genuinely happy and positive about every Edison College She is part of the off-site program that partners with [deleted] College Job loss Funding through the government stimulus recovery bill Instructors Very positive things to say about the instructors; this matches what the faculty stated; she states they help a lot with the admin processes Face to face Meetings Has met the faculty from the opticianry program; they came to [deleted] Orientation Class Introduces them to the field, tools they will be using, etc.; great way to acclimate Transcripts Negative experiences with student services; references transcripts # of students She thought there would be less based on a conversation with a previous graduate Connect with field Orientation activity that required her to interview someone in the field Job Her motivation comes from being retrained to get a different job; worried about the number of students vs demand Overall this student seemed very pleased with the a cademic side of things. There were some comments about her frustrations with the stude nt services; this is a reoccurring theme across all groups. She did mention that the f aculty help with the admin process but that she wasnÂ’t told ahead of time that there may b e issues with student services (no mention of anyone from student services helping the m before the fact either). Again, there werenÂ’t many references to specific technolog ical approaches to help staff work with DL students. She mentioned anticipating having to come to campus at some point to work out administrative related issues and processe s.
163 This is the first I have heard about the orientatio n class all new students must take in the program. It helps with acclimating students to the program and the field. I will send a follow up to [the faculty member] about this class to see why they implemented this course. On a different note, I did not get through to my ea rlier interviewee this morning even after we set the time. I got the personÂ’s voice mai l. This makes me nervous that I wonÂ’t get the people I need for the study. I only had 5 p eople respond so far to my solicitation. I will send out a second call for participation the b eginning of next week. Also, I hope that [the faculty member] comes through for me and letÂ’s me come to one of her hybrid classes to solicit participation. I feel like I am going through some highs and lows through this process. I know I want them to be comp leted as soon as possible but when working with other peopleÂ’s schedules, that doesnÂ’t happen.
164 Appendix H: Interview Transcription Sample (Edited) New Online Student C Date: October, 13 2009 Time: 3:35pm Interviewer: All right. Well, first, um, tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got interested in the opticianry program at HCC? Respondent: Well, actually, um, this is my third c areer. Interviewer: Okay. Respondent: Yeah, I, you know, I started in the fa shÂ…uh, well, I, I have a science degree. Then I went to the fashion industry for te n years. And then I had kids. So, having kids, itÂ’s not easy to work. So, I, I was a preschool, IÂ’m still a preschool teacher, um, so I can take care of my kids. And, um, now, w ith the economy and everything, I decided I want to go back to a real jobÂ… Interviewer: Okay. Respondent: Â…what I call a real job. So I wanted to use my science degree and I did a search on the Internet and, um, I didnÂ’t want to be a nurse. I, so, I just, you know, check see of the availÂ…availability of all the jobs, um, besides the nursing. You know, like the radiology, the dental assistant, and I came across the opticianry program and I check it out, and, and it looked very interested to me, so t hatÂ’s how I decided to do that. Interviewer: Okay. Did you go through, [College A ] or were you looking at [College B]? How did you find out about the HCC program? Respondent: Well, what I did is I, you know, when I look at what I wanted to do, I called Edison in Naples to find out if they have anything. And the one in [City A]told me, Â“No, you have to go to [City B],Â” so, I went to [City B] to the orientation with, uh, [Contact A] and thatÂ’s how I found out it was mostly on line wi th [College A]. Interviewer: Okay. Great. Respondent: SoÂ…
165 Interviewer: Did you visit the [College A] website at all? Respondent: Yes. Interviewer: Okay. How did you find that experien ce? Respondent: Uh, itÂ’s, uh, overwhelming. Interviewer: Yeah. Respondent: There are a lot of, uh, a lot of thing s. I mean if I, if I didnÂ’t go to the orientation before to tell me where to go for the o pticianry program, I would have been lost. I mean itÂ’s very Â– itÂ’s pretty complete, but there are a lot, a lot of things, soÂ… Interviewer: Okay. And how did you, once you got to the opticianry website, how did you find that? Respondent: Oh, then, thatÂ’s fine. Interviewer: Okay. Respondent: Um, I just think they should maybe upd ate it a little bit more, because when I tried to go like for the, um, the exam, they donÂ’ t update it until the really last minuteÂ… Interviewer: Okay. Respondent: Â…and, so, when, if you try to know lik e, you know, IÂ’m online and I need to plan on everything, and every time I try to go t o, um, to find out, I have to wait until the last minute to find out where, when I can pass my exam, whatÂ’s the, the dates and stuff. Interviewer: Sure. Sure. Respondent: But, other than that, um, itÂ’s pretty good. Interviewer: Great. Um, now, you, you applied to [College A], is that correct, for the admissions? Interviewer: Uh, could you talk to me a little bit about that experience? Respondent: Uh, well, that was every easy, because I did it online. So, that part was very easy. Now, as far as feedback, I pretty much never got anything. Um, to this day, I, IÂ’m, you know, IÂ’m assuming they receive all my tra nscripts and everything, because I got enrolled, but IÂ’ve never heard anything about, you know, if everything was fine if they received my transcripts, soÂ…
166 Interviewer: Okay, so no feedback or confirmation? Respondent: Â… feedback. Interviewer: Yeah. Yeah. Sylvie, how would you d escribe the level of accessibility that you have to HCC college personnel? Respondent: Uh, well, IÂ’ll say that the, um, like all the people in the opticianry program, like James Reese, is excellent. I mean, heÂ’ll retu rn my call, my email, ASAP, this is excellent. And, um, even the enrollment, when I ca ll, I can go through somebody. Now, the financial department is terrible. Interviewer: Yeah, like financial aid? Respondent: Yes. Interviewer: Yeah. Respondent: This is terrible, terrible. You get n o [pause] no answer back, no nothing. You have to call them a hundred million times befor e you can go through somebody. You donÂ’t know whoÂ’s taking care of you. Um, this is really bad, and so that part was really bad. Interviewer: Yeah. Um kay. How flexible do you f eel that the institution and the program is to your needs? So, anytime that youÂ’ve expressed concern or need for something, how, how responsive or flexible do you t hink that they are? Respondent: Um, I, actually, thatÂ’s one of the rea sons that I enroll is because they were very, very flexible. When I went to the orientatio n and I said, Â“IÂ’m working. I donÂ’t know if I can do that,Â” they said, Â“Oh, thatÂ’s okay You can do it online.Â” Then he said, uh, Â“You have to come Tuesday and Thursday mornings for the lab,Â” and I said, Â“I canÂ’t. IÂ’m working on those mornings.Â” And he said, Â“Oh, donÂ’t worry, youÂ’ll go to a lab, you know, in your town, and this is not a problem,Â” and that was really good. Interviewer: Great. So, they gave you options in terms ofÂ… Respondent: Gave me options and so, like, really, you know, thatÂ’s, make me sign up, because I see that I had option and I still can do it, even though IÂ’m working. Interviewer: Great. Great. Now you go toÂ… Is th at Lens Crafters, is that correct? Respondent: Yes. Interviewer: Okay. And you do all of your other c oursework online? Respondent: Yes.
About the Author Barry Hubbard grew up in the small farming town of Centerburg, Ohio. He completed a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, a Master of Education from the University of South Fl orida in Tampa, Florida, and two graduate certificates in Instructional Technology f rom the University of South Florida. Barry has been working in higher education for the past 12 years in various capacities including student affairs staff and faculty. Curren tly, he works full-time as a Computer Science Instructor at a community college in Tampa, Florida and teaches both face-toface and online courses in computer science, web de sign, multimedia, and student development theory.