Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Background: In the past decade, distance education enrollment has become more common in colleges and universities, increasing from 1.6 million students in 1998 to an estimated 6.7 million in 2012. The purpose of this study was to identify which constructs in Rogers' (2003) diffusion of innovation theory are more likely to contribute to adoption and diffusion of distance education in health education. Health education instructors and faculty can use the information obtained from the results of this study if they want to implement distance education. Methods: A quantitative, cross-sectional, descriptive, and correlational survey design was used in this study. An instrument designed to measure constructs and factors affecting the adoption and diffusion of distance education in health education were developed for the study. Health educators employed by health education departments listed in the AAHE (2011) Directory (N=498) were contacted by email and asked to participate in this study. The survey was distributed through SurveyMonkeyTM survey software that was activated December 2012 - January 2013. Results and Conclusions: A total of 245 health education faculty completed the instrument, but 21 participants were omitted because they did not complete at least 95% of the survey instrument. A total of 224 survey instruments were retained and included in the analysis, providing a 44.9% response rate. Based on the Pearsons correlation and multiple linear regression it can be concluded that the likelihood of distance education adoption by health education faculty is highly dependent on the communication channels and characteristics of the innovation (distance education) constructs of the diffusion of innovation theory. There was a large majority of participants in the early majority adopter category and this is because of two reasons. The first reason is that participants had not decided whether to accept or reject distance education. The other reason is that distance education is a relatively new innovation and it has not fully diffused through the health education profession. Experience with distance education was not shown to increase the likelihood of distance education adoption because the majority of participants have not yet decided whether to accept or reject distance education. The social system construct was the least predictive of distance education adoption. If distance education has not yet fully diffused through the health education profession then it is hard for the social system to impact the likelihood of distance education adoption.
This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.