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Giannamore Critique 2

Page history last edited by Kathleen Giannamore 6 years, 7 months ago Saved with comment

Level of Proficiency and Professional

Development Needs in Peripheral Online

Teaching Roles

Mercedes González-Sanmamed, Pablo-César Muñoz-Carril, and Albert Sangrà



Because university teachers are being challenged to obtain the necessary competencies to succeed in an online environment, it is becoming increasingly necessary to define precisely what  those competencies are and how willing teachers are to obtain them through professional development. The purpose of this study was to analyze perceptions on the level of proficiency held by online teachers when it comes to a stated list of peripheral roles including social, evaluator, manager, technologist, advisor/counselor, personal, and researcher. In addition, the professional development needs of these teachers is discussed. In doing this study, the researchers hoped to determine the implications for professional development and for the evaluation of online teaching performance.

This study was done within the context of a single Spanish public university in northwest Iberia.  This is a large university with over 20,000 students and nearly 1500 faculty members.  All faculty members were invited to participate in the survey via email and through the LMS.  Researchers used a non-experimental quantitative survey consisting of a series of  questions in which competencies were grouped based upon the role they belonged to and were evaluated on each role.  Data was gathered from 166 participating university teachers.  

Findings indicate that online teachers highlight the importance of peripheral roles for quality online teaching. The researcher shows that teachers have a high professional development need in many of these competency areas in order to exhibit quality teaching.  The Wilcoxon Signed ranks test was applied to the various competency areas based upon the role they address. The researcher showed that with the exception of disciplinary environment, non-parametric tests revealed significant results with respect to professional development needs of university teachers in the other peripheral areas. Discussion of the results indicate a positive correlation between levels of proficiency and professional development needs.  It seems that the greater the level of proficiency, the more aware teachers are of their needs and they actually become more demanding of professional development. 


This study gathers a wealth of useful information analyzing the perceptions on the level of proficiency that online teachers have regarding their peripheral roles. It also highlights the importance of these peripheral roles in the delivery of an online course as well as the importance for professional development to enhance teaching skills. While this research is highly useful for those interested in studying the professional development needs of online university teachers as well as the prospects for designing evaluation methods and instruments in online education, it is based upon self-reporting perceptions of teachers in just one school – albeit a large school. Because of the use of  voluntary convenience sampling and  a small sample size (166) in relation to the entire sample population (1500), which is about 11%, the study is not generalizable. One thing the researchers didn’t do that would have given a clearer vision of the big picture of the peripheral roles of online teachers was to put all the roles and their descriptive functionality into one visual element prior to releasing the findings. To me,  conceptualizing this big picture information was more telling than the survey results themselves.  It is incredible to think about what goes into teaching an online course and also lends insight into why it is more difficult to evaluate online teaching.  It may be more beneficial to survey prospective online faculty members prior to their teaching in an online program to make sure that they understand the implication of all these different roles and to assess their professional development needs prior to teaching, rather than waiting till after the fact, when they may have gone into these teaching positions lacking the necessary skills and competencies to succeed. Below is a table I put together from this research detailing the roles of an online instructor as well as the skills and competencies associated with each.

Table of Roles and Competencies attributed to Online Teaching

Social Role 

Evaluator Role

Managerial Role

Technological Role

Advisor Role

Personal Role

Researcher Role

“Encourage and stimulate positive participation in a friendly learning environment

Keep the students informed about the progress of their studies

Plan and manage the schedule of course events (activities, assessment tests, discussions, tutoring, etc.

Become aware of the use of the virtual learning environment, by carrying out specific activities

Ensure that students work at an appropriate pace and suggest measures to enhance performance

Adapt educational content to accessibility standards and to ethical and legal requirements

Experiment and perform different teaching methodologies

Suggest activities to facilitate knowledge development among participants

Make global and individual assessments of the activities carried out

Perform a welcome protocol for the students participating in the online course, establishing rules and regulations

Ensure that students understand the technical operation of the virtual learning environment.

Provide guidance based on student needs

Encourage students to exchange ideas and discuss with peers online

Diagnose and perform teaching and learning situations

Give feedback on student interactions and public and private recommendation

Conduct evaluation practices

Establish online communication structures based on its ease of use (usability and information architecture)

Provide advice and technical support

Provide meaningful information about the institution

Collaborate with experts to strengthen the potential of e-learning

Structure knowledge by developing reflexive processes”

Streamlining training and online networking

Ensure that the students meet course objectives

Perform as a reference for students in the context of the institution

Select and create multimedia educational resources meeting recognized standards in e-learning

Reply to students’ work (offer advice, suggestions and clarify doubts)



Summarize the inputs from students in group discussions


Manage efficiently the procedures for supporting students to work online

Suggest modifications or new resources to be included in the virtual learning environment

Motivate students



Integrate and lead discussions


Get in touch with the rest of the organizational and teaching team

Stay up to date and use proper software needed for the teaching process

Facilitate intellectual work techniques for networked studying






Use synchronous and asynchronous communication tools in a proper way







Keep in touch with your system administrator







Gonzalez-Sanmamed, M., Munoz-Carril, P.-C., & Sangra, A. (2014). Level of Proficiency and professional           Development Needs in Peripheral Online Teaching Roles. Athabasca University. Creative Commons           Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0), 16(6), 162–187




Comments (1)

Chip Ingram said

at 11:00 am on Oct 18, 2016

The table here provides a lot of information about what these authors mean by "peripheral roles." Aside from that, i would like more information about the background of the study (why do this one at all?), how it was done, and what was found. You don't need to detail each part of it (such as the stats) but here we don't get a lot of info about the study, certainly not enough for us to see whether it was done well and whether it could answer the research questions being asked.

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