Faculty perceptions of teaching and learning in adult accelerated courses
Johnson, Carrie, 1955-
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This qualitative study examined the experiences of faculty members who teach adult accelerated courses. Due to the reduced class time, the academic quality of these courses is often questioned. Utilizing a constructivist framework, this study sought to understand how teaching accelerated courses changed the ways faculty participants view their roles in the classroom, their instructional approaches, and their academic disciplines. Eighteen faculty members meeting the requirement of having taught at least five sections each of accelerated and traditional courses participated in this qualitative study. Semistructured interviews were conducted with each participant. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. The researcher also visited an accelerated class taught by each of the first five participants, taking field notes during her visits. The interviews and field notes were coded using the constant comparative method. Four themes emerged from this study. First, reduced class time was often seen positively by the participants. They saw students engaged in the learning process and perceived less class time as sustaining an energy that was not likely to be sustained in traditional-length courses. The second theme identified how the faculty members changed beliefs about teaching and learning as a result of adapting to reduced class time. The third theme observed how the faculty participants were challenged to make changes to their philosophies and practices based on their experiences teaching accelerated courses. The fourth theme illustrated some of the challenges the faculty participants faced teaching accelerated courses. One challenge was overcoming student expectations due to marketing and administrative procedures within their institutions. Another challenge was dealing with the marginalization from colleagues who questioned the accelerated course delivery model. Although traditional-length courses remain the majority model within higher education, the information provided by the participants in this study suggest that faculty can learn to appreciate the accelerated delivery model. For many, however, this might require a total revision of their definitions of education. Teaching accelerated courses expanded the participants’ views of themselves as educators. It encouraged them to examine their beliefs about the goals of education and the educational process.