Community colleges face pressures to use data to make decisions as they expand online distance education, but practical and political factors as well as the emergent nature of online distance education can be obstacles to making decisions in this way. Using a multiple case study strategy, this study examined the following research questions: (1) How and to what extent do community college academic leaders use data when making decisions about online distance education? (2) What data about online distance education do community college academic leaders cite as influences on their decision making and how strong are those influences? (3) How does the emergent nature of online distance education influence the availability of information and the ways in which community college academic leaders use data to make decisions? (4) What decision making processes do community college academic leaders use under different conditions of data availability and different levels of data quality? Findings of the study suggest that data are influential in online distance education decision making, especially if the decisions have major consequences; that the emergent nature of online distance education can limit data availability, but that college leaders can still make decisions by gathering data that do exist, generating new data through pilots, and using their experience and judgment; that the rational choice, incremental, political, and constructivist models are useful for explaining online distance education decision making; and that contingency approaches that combine elements of these models are particularly helpful for providing the most complete explanations for these complex decisions.
|Advisor:||Dee, Jay R.|
|Commitee:||Giles, Dwight E., Olson, Matthew|
|School:||University of Massachusetts Boston|
|Department:||Education/Higher Education Administration|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, Higher Education Administration, Educational technology|
|Keywords:||Community college, Data, Data use, Decision making, Distance education, Online|
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