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How best to prepare and support higher education faculty to design and teach effective online courses is a topic of great significance to higher education institutional leaders and faculty developers. This study explored how hours of professional development along with online teaching and learning experiences were related to online teaching self-efficacy and the extent to which participants reported implementation of effective online course design practices. Using a non-experimental quantitative correlational explanatory research study design, data were collected using a questionnaire. Participants included 104 online faculty from a large public higher education system located in the upper Midwest that includes both community colleges and universities. The findings suggested that both online teaching self-efficacy and self-reported ratings of implementation of effective online course design practices were higher when individuals have completed at least 20 hours of professional development meant to prepare them to teach online, have experience as an online instructor and/or online learner, and have participated in a peer review of their online course. The findings offer insights into how those with varying levels of online teaching self-efficacy rate their online course design practices and suggest that faculty may not accurately self-assess their course design abilities. The results and implications for those who are planning for and providing professional development meant to prepare faculty to teach online are discussed.

Publication Date

Fall 12-15-2023


online teaching self-efficacy, Quality Matters, online course design, faculty development, community college faculty, university faculty, COVID-19 pandemic, higher education


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Leadership | Higher Education | Online and Distance Education


Elizabeth McMahon, Ed.D. is a consultant and coach for higher education professionals. An experienced online educator and instructional designer, she is faculty emeritus at Northland Community and Technical College. She received her undergraduate degree in Nursing at the University of North Dakota, her master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in Teaching and Training Online from Capella University, and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She is currently a member of the Quality Matters Academic Advisory Council and a Quality Matters Research Colleague. Her research interests are related to quality assurance in online higher education including the impacts of faculty professional development on online course improvement and student success.

Designing Effective Online Courses: Exploring the Relationships Amongst Online Teaching Self-efficacy, Professional Development, Online Teaching Experience, and Reported Implementation of Effective Higher Education Online Course Design Practices