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A comparison of online teaching styles in Florida community colleges

, The Florida State University, United States

The Florida State University . Awarded


This study determined whether differences existed between the teaching styles of male and female community college instructors who teach online. It was significant because distance education literature highlights a learner-centered teaching style as the appropriate method for teaching online, but limited empirical research exists to support this stance. In order to appropriately answer the research questions posed in this study, I implemented a basic correlational research design.

The Principles of Adult Learning Scale (PALS) was used to measure overall teaching style and seven factors related to teaching style (Conti, 1979). Conti developed PALS in order to assess teaching style through positive and negative behaviors. Teaching experience, discipline, level of education, and employment status, which also have the potential to impact whether community college instructors favor a learner-centered style or a teacher-centered style, were considered in this study. The population consisted of all instructors at Florida's 28 community colleges who were teaching in an online distance education environment. MANOVA and ANOVA were used to analyze the data which was collected through a web-based administration of PALS. Effect size was also included.

Results depicted a difference in the teaching styles of male and female community college instructors who taught online. Women demonstrated a more learner-centered style than men in terms of their overall teaching style. Differences were also apparent based on the second factor, Personalizing Instruction, in which case, women were more likely than men to implement a more learner-centered teaching style. In terms of the demographic variables, differences in teaching styles were noted based on discipline and whether the instructor taught full or part-time. Those instructors who taught in disciplines considered soft/applied implemented a more learner-centered style. Instructors in the hard/pure disciplines demonstrated a greater use of a teacher-centered style. Contrary to prior research, part-time instructors used a more learner-centered style.

A difference in the teaching styles of men and women depicted teaching styles that are below the original norms of PALS, highlighting an online teaching style that is more teacher-centered. Even though women take a more learner-centered approach to teaching than men, the online environment has yet to evolve into a truly learner-centered environment.


Barrett, K.R. A comparison of online teaching styles in Florida community colleges. Ph.D. thesis, The Florida State University. Retrieved March 19, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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