Priorities in K-12 Distance Education: A Delphi Study Examining Multiple Perspectives on Policy, Practice, and Research

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Constance Pollard, Ph.D.


Distance education opportunities have experienced tremendous growth in the K-12 context. The decisions made today have lasting impact not only on our educational system but on the individual students served. It is imperative that development and growth occur in a thoughtful and systematic way. The purpose of this three round Delphi study was to identify and facilitate the prioritization of issues surrounding this rapidly evolving field.

The Delphi Method of group communication was used with experienced distance education stakeholders from the areas of research, policy, and practice to identify priorities in K-12 distance education over the next five years. In Round One, twenty-nine expert panel members generated 149 total statements that were coded and consolidated into 96 statements. Statements were also organized into nine subscales. Individual statement importance was rated and subscales were ranked by panel members in subsequent rounds. Data from the three rounds of this study were organized and compared using descriptive statistics. Data were also analyzed to determine whether membership in a particular subgroup resulted in any important differences in the responses to individual statements using the Kruskal-Wallis H test, the nonparametric equivalent of the one-way analysis of variance test. In addition to analyses of responses to individual statements, mean responses within the nine major subscales (categories) were generated and analyzed to determine if differences among subgroup responses differed. The results of the analyses by statement and by subscale indicated no significant differences among the policy, research, and practice subgroups (p > .05), indicating that experts identified common priorities.

Delphi panel members advocated the following priority areas for K-12 distance education over the next five years (in order of importance): I) Evaluation of Course Design and Delivery, 2) Best Practices, 3) Accountability, 4) Access,S) Online Learning/Learners, 6) Professional Development, 7) Accreditation/Standards, 8) Funding, and 9) Technology. Results ofthis study provide a framework of specific priority areas to be addressed by those engaged in all facets of K -12 distance education.

Files over 30MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."