Adult learning in Web-based faculty professional development: The role of self-regulation and interaction

Date of Completion

January 2008


Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Technology of




Teachers rely on professional development opportunities as a central learning activity to promote teacher proficiency. Traditionally, faculty professional development features short-term "one-size-fits-all" workshops whereby teachers are given information in classes and seminars and expected to apply what they have learned to their teaching practice. The workshop model has been deemed ineffective because it fails to bring about long-term changes to teachers' competencies. Web-based professional development programs may be a viable alternative to the traditional workshop model. This study examined how self-regulated interaction influences and guides learning of professionals in web-based environments. ^ The theoretical rationale for this study focused on how metacognitive knowledge and self-regulation contributes to learning outcomes and facilitates learner interaction within a web-based environment. The current study was designed to address the need to extend the research on web-based faculty professional development. ^ This study was conducted as a mixed methods study utilizing both observational case study and quantitative analysis of the data. The sample consisted of 15 volunteer participants enrolled in a web-based professional development course funded by an NSF grant to the New England Board of Higher Education. Data were collected from multiple sources: interviews, threaded discussions, reflective letters, and several quantitative instruments. Data was analyzed following case study methods and utilized correlation and multiple regression analysis methods. Trustworthiness was established using multiple sources, prolonged engagement, peer debriefing, member checking, journaling, and audit trial. ^ The results of the multiple regression analysis indicated, (1) activity in the middle of the course and web-based experience explained 47% of variance in content gain scores and (2) web-based experience, computer competency, and teaching experience, explained 70% of variance for self-regulation. Four qualitative themes were identified indicating participants of this study self-regulated the types and frequencies of interaction based on their metacognitive knowledge of themselves as learners and what they knew about the learning task. ^ The results of this study indicate that learners self-regulate interaction in web-based professional development activities as a learning strategy to achieve specific goals based on individual needs. Recommendations include strategies for instructors to utilize when structuring web-based professional development learning environments to optimize opportunities for self-regulated interaction. ^