Using the Lived Experience to Increase the Cadre of Nursing Faculty Who Teach Online

Friday, 28 July 2017: 10:45 AM

Elizabeth A. Gazza, PhD
School of Nursing, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC, USA


The use of online delivery modalities continues to increase across higher education (Allen & Seamen, 2016) and in nursing education. The integration of technology into nursing education has improved access for students, influenced the delivery of nursing education, and expanded the need for evidence-based teaching specific to online teaching. Additionally, as more students enroll in online courses and programs, so does the need for nursing faculty who are qualified to teach online, and interested in doing so. While data about the number of nursing faculty who teach online is not readily available, only 32% of faculty from public, private, and for-profit institutions in higher education have taught online (Straumsehim, Jaschik, & Lederman, 2015). This leaves two-thirds of full faculty who have not engaged in online teaching. Lack of familiarity with online teaching and perceived time associated with the instructional approach can deter faculty leaders from teaching and supporting online instruction (Chiabocchi, Ginsberg, & Picciano, 2016). Nursing faculty who can effectively use technology to deliver online education are essential in order to deliver online courses and programs. However, the shortage of nursing faculty in the US and the difficulties associated with attracting qualified applicants to available nursing faculty positions (AACN, 2015) can limit online offerings. Increasing the number of online faculty requires development and support systems that can assist them in this expanding role. This can be challenging because little is known about what it is like to teach online. The purpose of this presentation is to share research-based strategies that can increase the cadre of nursing faculty who integrate technology into nursing education and teach online.


A hermeneutic phenomenological study that uncovered the experience of teaching online in nursing education provides a description and interpretation of the online teaching experience serves as the basis for this presentation. Full-time nursing faculty who taught in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), RN-BSN, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), PhD in nursing, and/or doctor of nursing (DNP) programs in the United States and who completed at least 50% of their teaching workload assignment in the previous year in fully online courses were eligible to participate in the Institutional Review Board-approved study. Fourteen informants from ten different institutions of higher education located in nine different states in the US including four Northeastern, two Northern, and three Southern states volunteered to share their experience. Data were collected over an 8-month period through personal interviews and a demographic questionnaire. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using a 5-step process.


Four themes emerged from the data including 1.) Looking at a lot of moving parts, 2.) Always learning new things, 3.) Going back and forth, and 4.) Time is a blessing and a curse. Findings indicate that online teaching differs from traditional classroom teaching and as a result, faculty in nursing education require development and support in order to attract them to online teaching and to retain them in the role.


Meeting the educational needs of the nursing workforce can be achieved in part through the use of technology to delivery online programs that can reach larger populations around the world. Comprehensive development and support programs, including mentoring specific for online teaching faculty, are needed to build the cadre of nursing faculty who teach online. This session offers strategies for creating such programs. It behooves nursing to lead the way in developing and supporting online faculty in nursing education.