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Administrative issues in nursing distance education programs

, University of Alberta , Canada

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Alberta . Awarded


The purpose of this study was to examine administrative issues associated with post-RN baccalaureate degree programs offered by distance education in Canada. The study centered on the broad two-part question: What are the issues faced by administrators of nursing degree programs offered through distance education and what processes have they put into place to address these issues?

To undertake the study, interviews were conducted according to accepted qualitative methods with individuals involved with administering post-R.N. nursing degree programs in Canadian dual-mode universities. Using a naturalistic approach to inquiry, data were gathered from interviews and documents, and were analyzed on an on-going basis, concluding with the emergence of six broad categories of administrative issues.

The main issues were related to student participation, student support services, faculty participation, program development and delivery, interaction, and bureaucratic systems. Participants identified different ways of dealing with the issues, by putting processes into place to manage them, by ignoring them, or simply accepting them as part of the reality of providing distance education in dual-mode universities.

Three main themes that were embedded in and across the issues emanated from the study: marginalization, intensity and commitment. From the issues and the themes that emerged it seems that there is considerable room for improvement in the way distance education is accommodated in these institutions. Conventional, dual-mode universities appear to support offering distance education as an option, and despite the difficulties associated with it, program administrators are committed to making it work.

However, there are many gaps in the way most distance education programs have evolved. This study suggests that a more systematic approach needs to be taken when planning and administering these programs, so that issues such as student support, faculty support and course development and delivery are consciously considered. Administrators need to be more fully aware of what they reasonably can and cannot do within the constraints of dual-mode universities. Furthermore, if distance education is going to be a success, the administrators of these institutions will have to seriously consider providing additional resources, support and recognition to those charged with administering the programs.


Fraser, J.H. Administrative issues in nursing distance education programs. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Alberta. Retrieved March 22, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 22, 2013. [Original Record]

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