Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Use of course management systems (CMS) in higher education has risen dramatically since their development in the late 1990s. This qualitative study investigated the use of a course management system (CMS) by faculty teaching undergraduate, traditional courses in a Midwestern liberal arts university. The focus of the study was on the reasons faculty stated for their adoption of a course management system in their course. Three faculty members were interviewed over a three-month time period. The participants in this study were not mandated to use a CMS by their department or the institution. Initially faculty members were asked questions regarding their decision to integrate the CMS into their course relating to their rationale for the decision and how they went about the process. As the interviews developed, questions focused on the actual use of the CMS in their teaching. The CMS used by the faculty was a commercial product, Blackboard™, version 6.0.

During the interviews faculty members shared their perceptions about what they saw as the qualities of a good teacher. They discussed how and why they decided to adopt the use of a CMS. Five themes emerged during the data collection and analysis process. When the specifics of the methods of using the CMS were discussed, each faculty member related why he or she used each particular tool. The decisions for adoption were all based on sound pedagogical methods of communication, active learning, timely feedback, and high expectations.

Recommendations were generated for further research to follow through on the faculty decisions and their intended benefits to the students. A study investigating students’ perceptions and actual use of a CMS could be conducted using the findings from this study as a basis for comparison.

With the trend toward the increased use of a CMS in higher education, research should investigate the type of usage and the resulting value to the students and faculty. This study and related work in this field can be instrumental in the adoption process for faculty members and administration by identifying pedagogically-based methods.