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ERIC Number: EJ869267
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 24
ISSN: ISSN-1556-3847
Academic Fidelity and Integrity as Attributes of University Online Degree Program Offerings
Gambescia, Stephen F.; Paolucci, Rocco
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, v12 n1 Spr 2009
As stakeholders continue to discuss, debate, and advocate their positions related to the value of online learning at colleges and universities, one element that will continue to be discussed, regardless of the specific issue at hand, is "academic integrity and fidelity". Academic fidelity of online degree program offerings is defined in this study as the extent or level to which university leaders have considered, involved, and entrusted their current academic assets to produce the new educational program offering. Academic fidelity measures the nature and extent of integrity or equivalency between on campus programs and online degree programs. This study aimed to determine the prominence of "academic fidelity" attributes in the online degree program offering, as presented to prospective students via universities' official websites. The study 1) assessed the "level of visibility" given to online degree programs on university websites; 2) identified the range of "attributes" of university online degree programs as presented on the university websites; and 3) measured how the "academic fidelity and integrity attributes" compare with other attributes used to market online degree program offerings to prospective students. Universities selected for analysis were those schools listed in the "U.S. News & World Report's" 2006 "E-Learning Guide" (N=240). "Eight major attributes" used by universities to market their online degree program offerings were identified and analyzed as part of the research: Academic Fidelity--"1) Faculty, 2) Curriculum, 3) Quality;" University Branding/Reputation--"4) Classroom, 5) Distance Learning Expertise"; Features/Benefits--"6) Flexibility, 7) Convenience, and 8) Information/Operation". The study found that very few institutions are leveraging their existing traditional programs (faculty and curriculum) and standards (quality) attributes when promoting their online degree programs, opting to use "convenience" and "flexibility" much more frequently to promote their online degree programs to prospective students. Furthermore, the study found a surprising lack of high visibility of online degree program offerings on university official websites, opting to use either a secondary link or have readers use a search feature. Although promoting the flexibility and convenience attributes of online degree programs is reasonable and considered "good marketing" as they relate to customer benefits, academic administrators may want to consider the extent to which academic fidelity attributes are used to promote their online degree programs and the rationale for why other attributes are much more prominent. (Contains 6 graphs.)
State University of West Georgia. 1601 Maple Street, Honors House, Carrollton, GA 30118. Tel: 678-839-5489; Fax: 678-839-0636; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A