Factors determining hospitality instructors' intentions to teach online
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Hospitality management is approaching 120 years as an academic discipline within higher education. The evolution of hospitality programs began with European apprenticeship models, but through several decades of maturity has become a more theoretically based and multi-disciplinary field. Today’s hospitality programs are identified as being highly associated with industry, champions of experiential education, and more recently, experiencing a paradigm shift in favor of online learning. Despite being resistant to online teaching, many hospitality instructors do acknowledge the impending transition toward this type of course delivery, thus the responsibility falls on the shoulders of program administrators to promote “buy-in” and acceptance from faculty members. The growth of online learning is well-documented and vast improvements to the technology and pedagogy demonstrate the potential of this form of course delivery. The benefits to online learning for students are vast, including serving nontraditional and working students, offering greater flexibility for those hospitality students completing internships, and the ability to learn without the constraint of geographical boundaries. Hospitality faculty also benefit from online teaching, particularly those who travel while teaching or conducting research. Online learning is also becoming increasingly important to institutions which seek to increase enrollments in spite of decreased funding and limited facilities. For these reasons, this research was conducted with the specific purpose of helping hospitality program administrators find solutions for promoting faculty participation in this form of instruction. Using the Technology Acceptance Model 2 (TAM2) as the theoretical framework, this research project was designed to examine hospitality instructors’ intentions to teach an online course with a specific focus on deconstructed subjective norms. Three separate studies were conducted simultaneously, each with distinct objectives, literature review, methodologies, results, and conclusions. The studies were triangulated at the conclusion of the project to reveal a more comprehensive understanding regarding how to promote online learning to hospitality faculty and students. The first study utilized a qualitative analysis of hospitality faculty built around the constructs of TAM2. Ten participants were interviewed in an effort to understand instructors’ intentions to teach a full online course, but findings revealed a strong preference in favor of a blended model. Based upon the overwhelming discussion of blended instruction, the survey instrument for the subsequent quantitative studies investigating hospitality faculty and students’ intentions to teach or enroll in an online course was modified. The second study used structural equation modeling to examine hospitality faculty intentions to teach blended and full online courses. Hospitality student, colleague, and chair influences replaced a collective subjective norm construct within TAM2. The survey instrument was distributed online via Qualtrics software and responses were collected worldwide. The results of this study produced two identical models with statistically significant pathways of chair influences on intention to use, signifying a mandatory effect. Also, statistically significant pathways of student and colleague intentions on perceived usefulness demonstrated the influence of less-important referent groups on an instructor’s intention to teach online. The third study was a quantitative investigation of hospitality students’ intention to enroll in an online course using structural equation modeling. Based on the survey instrument and methodology from the faculty quantitative survey, the student study was performed to generate a more comprehensive understanding of the potential for online course offerings in the hospitality discipline. Subjective norm in the hypothesized model was measured based on peer, instructor, parental, and academic advisor influences. Findings revealed the mandatory effects of parents and academic advisors on a hospitality student’s intention to enroll in an online course. Lesser influences, while statistically non-significant, were still critical to model fit, indicating the potential for peer and instructor influences on hospitality students’ online course enrollment. Few studies have been conducted surrounding the topic of online learning in the hospitality discipline in higher education. There are currently no studies investigating normative influences on hospitality faculty to teach and students to enroll in an online course. Findings from this research project will benefit hospitality management program chairs and administrators to better assist faculty to adapt to online learning using blended models as a bridge. This research will also prove useful to other disciplines facing similar institutional mandates to increase program-wide enrollments with limited funding and reach untapped student populations such as nontraditional students.