Maximizing Online Instructional Pedagogy in Teacher Education Courses for Career Changers
Cynthia Dieterich, Baldwin Wallace University
Sarah Hamsher, Indiana Wesleyan University
In the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in adults desiring to change careers, and a great number of these adults are transitioning to careers in teaching. To meet the needs of these adult learners, there is an increasing desire and need for online learning, particularly for the adult learner who continues to work full time while pursuing a teaching license. Recognizing that institutions of higher education—particularly private institutions—do not have limitless fiscal and human resources, there is a need to appropriately invest in instructor resources in order to provide the most effective and efficient learning environment for career changers. This current study surveyed career changers in a College of Education at a Midwestern institution on the behaviors of course instructors they value most and value least in the online learning atmosphere. The career changers noted that they highly value effective communication, feedback, and a positive disposition from online course instructors. Recognizing that career changers valued these three behaviors the most, universities need to inform faculty about the importance of ongoing communication, providing meaningful feedback, and designing explicit strategies to provide encouragement within the online learning management system. Career changers have many options for online teacher preparation programs; therefore, universities need to distinguish themselves by offering high quality, pedagogically-sound programs that are also responsive to the career changers’ desires and needs.
Keywords: online courses, career changer, teacher education, student satisfaction, instructor resources