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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Policies related to the implementation of openness at research intensive universities in the United States: A descriptive content analysis
by Baker, Fredrick William, III, Ph.D., University of South Alabama, 2014, 356; 3645569
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation, I describe a study examining institutional policy documents for statements related to the implementation of openness. The purposes of this study were to explore the current state of policies related to the implementation of openness in higher education, and to provide guiding recommendations to higher education institutions looking to address the issue of implementation of openness in their own policies. Policy plays a critical role in the implementation of innovations such as openness. The policy environment is complex and potentially confusing. Technology enables the proliferation of openness, and higher education institutions are now facing a number of challenges associated with the implementation of openness. Not much is known about the stance of higher education or the state of its response to openness. As a result, there was not much guidance available for institutions looking to address the implementation of openness in their institutions.

This dissertation involved a descriptive study that follows summative content analysis methodology. The research design was a qualitative dominant sequential mixed methods model, meaning that I focused primarily on the qualitative elements of the study and provided limited descriptive quantitative analysis derived from the qualitative data.

Five major areas of openness affecting higher education institutions were drawn from the literature. These are Open Access Research, Open Content, Open Teaching and Learning, Open Source Software, and Other, less pronounced, areas of openness. I searched the Faculty Handbooks, Strategic Plans, and Technology Plans of a stratified random sample of research-intensive higher education institutions for keywords related to the major areas of openness. I then evaluated the resulting statements based on the directness with which they address openness and on their policy role as enabler, barrier, or neutral toward the implementation of openness.

I provided 45 idealized policy statements as well as the best-found policy statements from the study. These statements were intended to be used as recommendations for guiding institutions in crafting their own policy statements to address openness through policy. The idealized statements were intended to fit in the three policy documents (Faculty Handbook, Strategic Plan, Technology Plan), serve each policy role (enabler, barrier, and neutral), and address area of openness (Open Access, Open Content, Open Source Software, Open Teaching and Learning, and Other Areas of Openness). Five major findings emerged from the study. These include the realization that openness is really a human-centered approach, and the discovery that openness is not commonly addressed in higher education policies. Additionally, I found that there was wide variance in how institutions actually address openness, that Open Access is addressed more than other areas in policy, and that content analysis is an effective method for obtaining information related to higher education policies. I provided my reflections and conclusions on the study in Chapter Five.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lewis, Joe'l P.
Commitee: Clark, Jean N., Gillis, William E., Vitulli, Paige A.
School: University of South Alabama
Department: College of Education
School Location: United States -- Alabama
Source: DAI-A 76/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Instructional Design, Education Policy, Educational technology
Keywords: Educational resources, Higher education policy, Massively open online courses, Open access, Open content, Open source software, Open teaching and learning, Openness
Publication Number: 3645569
ISBN: 978-1-321-34833-0
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