Factors predictive of online instruction among dental hygiene faculty in the United States
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The literature shows that creative use of online instruction in the field of dental hygiene could help to manage the projected shortage of dental hygienists in the U.S., reach students in rural areas, and help alleviate the need for classroom space in schools and colleges. Online instruction may be a viable cost reducing option for individuals as well as training institutions during economic recession. An essential component of a successful online education program is faculty support. The purposes of this predictive and descriptive study were, first to determine whether knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and tenure status of dental hygiene faculty in the United States were significant predictors of their use of online instruction; and second, to determine factors which were incentives and/or barriers to their using online didactic instruction. Four research questions were posed to dental hygiene faculty in the U.S. in a survey format. 1. What proportion of dental hygiene faculty in the United States participate in online instruction? 2. What is the extent of use among those dental hygiene faculty who participate in online instruction? 3. What factors promote and/or deter dental hygiene faculty from teaching online? 4. What do dental hygiene faculty perceive could be done to encourage online instruction in the field of dental hygiene? Two hundred and nine faculty completed the survey, securing moderate power. The survey consisted of quantitative, closed-ended items, and six open-ended qualitative survey questions that served to enhance the interpretation of the results. Evaluation of the data showed that dental hygiene faculty who had experience with online education, confidence in their ability to teach online, and the belief that online instruction was a sound teaching method were more likely to teach online. Faculty confident in their ability to teach online perceived fewer barriers and faculty who believed online instruction to be important perceived more incentives to teaching online. The key predictors of faculty use of online instruction were personal experience with online instruction and how important they believed it to be. Faculty teaching at Bachelors degree programs, programs affiliated with dental schools, and/or those who were members of IDEA had higher incentive scores than faculty from Associate degree programs, non-affiliated programs, or who were not members of IDEA. Barrier scores were affected by tenure status, experience teaching or taking online courses, and faculty perceptions of the speed of adoption of online philosophy in dental hygiene education. The investigator designed instrument used in this investigation was found to be effective in predicting Usage, Barrier, and Incentive scores.