Many faculty members participate in professional development programs in instructional technology, but they may feel intimidated by the challenge of mastering the use of technological resources. Aiming to cope with this threat, ten faculty members attended a technology workshop and discussed its impact and major positive features such as: (1) theme strategy of illustrating the workshop as a sportive adventure, (2) respectful and caring attitude of the instructors in making participants feel comfortable, (3) “hands-on” approach in providing participants with computer and software, (4) peer interaction in the classroom, (5) time available for practice after each lesson and presentation by the instructors, (6) opportunity for participants to develop their own projects and (7) tutoring resource available by staying three days surrounded by instructors. This paper summarizes the results of the study, making comparisons with related literature and addressing faculty technical skills, learning styles, individual attitudes, and pedagogical beliefs about the role of technology in education. This study employed qualitative research using the descriptive and interpretive case study tradition of inquiry. To better understand the phenomenon of how faculty members learn to use instructional technology, this research project is a multiple case study of ten faculty members involved in learning about technology at a major public university in the United States, looking at the same phenomenon through the experience of different participants, based on the theoretical assumption that the more cases included in a study, and the greater the variation across the cases, the more compelling the interpretation is. Using a purposeful sample, ten participants were selected among faculty who attended a series of workshops and seminars in instructional technology, offered by a public university. In order to obtain a larger variety of data, the sampling strategy employed a maximum variation approach, including faculty from different disciplines and academic areas, and also from different levels of academic appointment. Several different data collection methods were employed. The basic method consisted of in-depth face-to-face semi-structured interviews with the participants, supported by follow-up email interviews. The data included results of a learning style assessment obtained through participants’ completion of the Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire developed at North Carolina State University. This test was chosen due to its practical approach and relatively high test-retest reliability in repeated measurements over time, with the conclusion that the ILS is an appropriate and statistically acceptable instrument for characterizing learning preferences. The data analysis consisted of within-case analysis and categorical aggregation by putting together a collection of statements, ideas, and examples by the participants. As faculty members explored their own experiences in learning about instructional technology, six key categories of analysis were identified: (1) the influence of learning styles and personal attitudes on faculty development efforts, (2) the influence of pedagogical beliefs, (3) the influence of personal motivation, (4) the thematic format as a useful workshop strategy, (5) the influence of student reaction, and (6) the influence of institutional barriers.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/robson_marinho/9/