Examining the Role of Online Courses in

Native Hawaiian Culture and Language at the University of Hawaii
Kelley Dudoit
University of Hawaii, Manoa
Educational Technology Graduate Student
Hawaii, USA
kelleythawaii!edu
Abstract The uni"ue geogra#hical nature of the state of Hawaii creates
hardshi# in atte$#ting to offer ade"uate instruction and resources to
students in all the co$$unities that the University of Hawaii %UH& syste$
serves! Distance education #lays a significant role in atte$#ting to
address so$e of these hardshi#s! The #ur#ose of this needs assess$ent
%'A& was to collect University of Hawaii student feed(ack in regards to
their needs, #re#aredness, #erce#tions and learning #references for online
courses in 'ative Hawaiian culture and language! This study utili)ed the
UH Maui *ollege, Molokai Education *enter as a sa$#le site to collect
feed(ack fro$ those who #lan to utili)e distance education in #ursuing an
Associate Degree in Hawaiian Studies, or to take courses in 'ative
Hawaiian language and culture! A co$#rehensive survey was develo#ed
and ad$inistered to collect student feed(ack on their o#inions of distance
learning at UH, with an e$#hasis on online courses! A review of their
res#onses #rovides readers with a uni"ue o##ortunity to understand the
student e+#erience fro$ the #ers#ective of those in so$e of the $ost
re$ote areas served! Strengths and weaknesses of online course delivery
are reviewed as well as reco$$endations for strengthening distance
education #lanning and i$#le$entation!
!ntroduction
The University of Hawaii %UH& syste$ features ca$#uses and outreach centers on all of
the $ain Hawaiian ,slands! The uni"ue geogra#hical nature of the state of Hawaii creates
hardshi# in atte$#ting to offer ade"uate instruction and resources to students in all the
co$$unities that the UH syste$ serves! Distance education has (een a(le to re$edy
so$e of these issues (y allowing instruction to (e delivered to so$e of the $ost re$ote
areas in Hawaii! The (ridges (uilt through the various for$s of technology allow
students in these areas to #artici#ate and (enefit fro$ higher education!
-ne of the rural co$$unities highly affected (y distance learning o##ortunities offered
(y UH is the island of Molokai! UH serves Molokai (y offering instruction through the
UH Maui *ollege, Molokai Education *enter %UHM*, Molokai&, which enrolls
a##ro+i$ately .// students #er se$ester in certificate and associate degree #rogra$s! A
recent develo#$ent at UHM*, Molokai, includes the origination of distance education
courses where Molokai instructors are given the o##ortunity to share their e+#ertise with
UH students statewide! This (roadens the student (ase that UHM*, Molokai is a(le to
reach! The #rogra$ is no longer li$ited to offering instruction to Molokai residents!
This study utili)ed UHM*, Molokai as a sa$#le site to understand the role of distance
education for those interested in taking courses in 'ative Hawaiian language and culture!
A re#ort #u(lished (y 0adford and the 'ational *enter for Education Statistics %./11&
highlighted the growth e+#erienced in distance education enroll$ent fro$ .///2.//3, the
highest of which occurred at two year #u(lic institutions! UHM*, Molokai re$ained
consistent with this national trend where 45!16 of students #artici#ated in online courses
in the ./1.2./17 acade$ic year %Molokai Education *enter, ./17&! This was u# fro$
85!76 re#orted in the #revious acade$ic year %Molokai Education *enter, ./1.&! These
statistics indicate a strong student de$and for online learning! -n Molokai, this de$and
ste$s fro$ necessity, as $any of the students need to #artici#ate in distance learning to
co$#lete degrees!
,n 9all ./17, a new associate degree in Hawaiian Studies was launched across the UH
*o$$unity *ollege Syste$! ,n #re#aring to announce the new degree o#tion to Molokai
students, it was discovered that there were li$ited distance learning o#tions for students
interested in #ursuing this o##ortunity! 9or e+a$#le, in 9all ./17, UH Maui *ollege
offered no online courses in Hawaiian studies %University of Hawaii, ./17&! The student
(ase in rural areas around Hawaii li$its the a$ount of face2to2face Hawaiian studies and
language classes that can (e offered: therefore, distance learning o#tions should (e
availa(le to students to su##le$ent face2to2face courses and allow the$ to graduate
within a reasona(le ti$efra$e! ,n addition, a study done (y researchers at the University
of Hawaii De#art$ent of Educational Technology found that the $ain (arrier to 'ative
Hawaiian #artici#ation in distance learning was the lack of o##ortunity to #artici#ate
%Menchaca, ;ong < Hoff$an, .//3&! Therefore, the #ur#ose of this needs assess$ent
%'A& was to collect University of Hawaii student feed(ack in regards to their needs,
#re#aredness, #erce#tions and learning #references for online courses in 'ative Hawaiian
culture and language!
"ethods
The first ste# in develo#ing the needs assess$ent was to collect (aseline data on online
course offerings in 'ative Hawaiian culture and language in the UH syste$! This data
was used to colla(orate with the UHM*, Molokai coordinator and a UHM* Hawaiian
studies and language instructor on designing the "uestions to (e included in the needs
assess$ent! The #rocess of soliciting in#ut aligned with the (est #ractice of ensuring a
voice at the ta(le for all #arties who $ay (e affected (y the results of the #ro=ect
%Hill$an < *orkery, ./1/&!
The #rocess of develo#ing and i$#le$enting the needs assess$ent followed a $i+ed
$ethods a##roach to evaluation (y looking at the University of Hawaii o(=ectives for
distance learning %o(=ective a##roach&, soliciting in#ut fro$ the UH Maui *ollege,
Molokai *oordinator %$anage$ent a##roach&, soliciting in#ut fro$ a Hawaiian studies
and language instructor %e+#ertise a##roach& and finally (y conducting the needs
assess$ent with the #otential end user %#artici#ant a##roach& %0oss, ./1/&!
-nce the "uestions were finali)ed, an electronic survey was created using Google 9or$s!
The final survey included 7/ "uestions, which took #artici#ants an esti$ated 7/ $inutes
to co$#lete! The survey was co$#rised of >ikert scale, $ulti#le choice and o#en2ended
"uestions! The >ikert scale "uestions asked students to rate their res#onses fro$ 1
%strongly agree& to 4 %strongly disagree&!
?hile feed(ack fro$ students who #artici#ated in any for$ of instruction was desired,
the final section of the survey s#ecifically focused only on those who had e+#erience in
online learning! Since this section addressed student online learning #references, those
who had not taken any online courses in the #ast were asked to ski# this section!
UH students who were enrolled in one or $ore 'ative Hawaiian language or culture
courses that originated fro$ UHM*, Molokai either through face2to2face delivery or
distance education were recruited as #artici#ants for this study! The recruit$ent list
consisted of a##ro+i$ately 3/ #otential res#ondents! The invitations to #artici#ate were
sent via e$ail to their UH accounts! A first grou# of a##ro+i$ately 4/ students were
solicited in the 9all ./17 se$ester, and an additional 7/ in the S#ring ./18 se$ester!
0es#onses were collected fro$ 15 students in a Google s#readsheet! These data were
then e+#orted to Microsoft E+cel for further o(servation! Mean scores were calculated
for all >ikert scale "uestions and $ulti#le choice "uestion res#onses were (roken down
(y the #ercentage of students to select each o#tion! -#en2ended "uestions were reviewed
and ranked (ased on si$ilarities in student res#onses! The data collected were then
#laced into charts and visual aids to si$#lify navigating the student res#onses!
Results
To re$ain consistent with the o(=ectives for this study, the results section has (een
(roken down to address the different $easure$ent indicators@ student need,
#re#aredness, #erce#tions and learning #references! A de$ogra#hic section was also
added to illustrate the $ake2u# of the student res#ondents!
Demographics
#igure $% Student de$ogra#hic (reakdown!
The $ale to fe$ale ratio of res#ondents is consistent with the student gender (reakdown
at UH ca$#uses, where fe$ale #artici#ation is greater than $ale! The geogra#hic
location of the #artici#ants was not li$ited to the island of Molokai although all the
courses selected for this study originated fro$ the island! However, the fact that not all
islands and rural co$$unities in Hawaii were re#resented serves as a li$itation of this
study!
An overwhel$ing 316 of students #lan to take at least one online course to co$#lete
their degree or certificate! Des#ite this, there were a few students who lacked a co$#uter
and sta(le ,nternet connection! Access to this hardware is critical for success in online
classes and $ay (e difficult to ac"uire in re$ote areas of the state!
Many of the res#ondents $aintained (usy schedules! 4/6 of the$ were full ti$e
students and A46 were e$#loyed either #art2ti$e or full2ti$e! The $a=ority of the
res#ondents, 5B6 were of 'ative Hawaiian ancestry! However, only a(out half 476,
were Hawaiian studies $a=ors!
Needs
A total of five >ikert scale "uestions were #osed in the student need section of the survey!
The "uestions e+#lored whether there was an un$et need as far as online courses (eing
offered in 'ative Hawaiian language and culture at UH!
The "uestion with a $ean score indicating the strongest level of agree$ent, .!1, was that
students would take $ore online courses in 'ative Hawaiian culture if they were
availa(le! This was followed closely (y the second $ost agreed u#on "uestion, with a
$ean score of .!7, which indicated that students felt enrolling in distance education
courses were necessary for the$ to earn their degree!
Students re#orted the lowest level of agree$ent, 7!4 and 7!., with the idea that UH Maui
*ollege and the University of Hawaii syste$ offers ade"uate distance education course
o#tions in 'ative Hawaiian language and culture! Those were the only "uestions which
received a $ean score higher than 7!/ in this section %see 9igure .&! 9urther$ore, these
"uestions received the highest $ean score when co$#ared with res#onses to all >ikert
scale "uestions in the entire survey!
C &uestion "ean
'core
1 , would take $ore courses in 'ative Hawaiian language if they were availa(le
online!
.!3
. , would take $ore courses in 'ative Hawaiian culture if they were availa(le
online!
.!1
7 UH Maui *ollege offers a sufficient nu$(er of distance education courses in
'ative Hawaiian language and culture!
7!4
8 The University of Hawaii syste$ offers a sufficient nu$(er of distance education
courses in 'ative Hawaiian language and culture!
7!.
4 -nline course o#tions will hel# $e co$#lete $y certificate or degree in a ti$ely
$anner!
.!8
5 Enrolling in distance education courses is necessary for $e to earn $y degree! .!7
#igure (% 0es#onses to student need!
Preparedness
This section of the needs assess$ent also included >ikert scale "uestions, which asked
students to rate their #re#aredness for online courses! The $ost interesting result fro$
this section is that students re#orted feeling highly confident in their a(ility to succeed in
online courses in 'ative Hawaiian culture, .!1! ,n direct contrast, students re#orted the
strongest level of disagree$ent in their confidence in their a(ility to learn the 'ative
Hawaiian language online, .!B!
?ith a $ean score of .!1, students felt access to a co$#uter and a sta(le internet
connection was i$#ortant for success in an online course! -n the o##osite end, students
gave the second lowest agree$ent rating, .!3, to the fact that UH offers ade"uate training
and su##ort for distance education students! -verall, this section was the only with no
$ean scores of 7!/ or higher, indicating that the "uestions in this area were the $ost
agreed u#on (y students! This indicates that overall, #artici#ants felt #re#ared for success
in online classes!
C &uestion "ean
'core
1 , a$ confident in $y overall a(ility %technical skill, ti$e2$anage$ent, self2
disci#line& to succeed in courses delivered via distance education technology!
.!7
. , a$ confident in $y a(ility to learn the Hawaiian language in an online course! .!B
7 , a$ confident in $y a(ility to learn the Hawaiian culture in an online course! .!1
8 , (elieve access to a co$#uter and internet connection at ho$e is i$#ortant to
succeed in distance education courses!
.!1
4 University of Hawaii clearly e+#lains what it takes to succeed as a distance
education student #rior to registration in online classes!
.!8
5 The University of Hawaii #rovides ade"uate su##ort %e!g! training, ,T su##ort,
etc!& for $e to succeed as a distance education student!
.!3
#igure )% 0es#onses to student #re#aredness!
Perceptions
To understand student learning #erce#tions, survey #artici#ants were asked three o#en2
ended "uestions! The first "uestion asked students if they thought the UH syste$ was
ade"uately $eeting the following #erfor$ance $easure, D,ncrease the nu$(er and
diversity of #rogra$s (y at least one #rogra$ every two years that can (e co$#leted
through distance learning technologiesE %University of Hawaii *o$$unity *olleges,
.//3&! The $a=ority of students were unsure, with a(out half of these students
s#ecifically re#orting that they have no e+#erience in online courses! The rest of the
res#ondents were s#lit al$ost e"ually! Those who res#onded yes agreed (ecause they
were a(le to co$#lete degrees and certificates through a co$(ination of face2to2face and
distance #rogra$$ing, and with the su##ort of outreach site staff! -ne student agreed
that the $easure was (eing $et, (ut thought that it was for a li$ited a$ount of #rogra$s!
Those who disagreed that UH was $eeting the a(ove #erfor$ance $easure cited
transfera(ility issues and distance education #rogra$$ing needs are only (eing $et for
>i(eral Arts $a=ors!
Students were also asked a(out the advantages and disadvantages of #artici#ating in
online classes! The to# advantage cited was fle+i(ility and convenience! The second
$ost #o#ular res#onse was that these courses were necessary for students to earn their
degrees without having to relocate! -ther reasons $entioned were (uilding technology
skills and saving $oney on trans#ortation to and fro$ classes!
The $ain disadvantage of taking online courses, as #erceived (y the students, was
distance or li$ited co$$unication with the instructor of the course! -ne student
s#ecifically $entioned this was the reason they would not take Hawaiian language
courses online! The second $ost #o#ular res#onse was the ti$e $anage$ent and
disci#line re"uired to succeed in online courses! A few students cited technology issues
as a challenge, es#ecially for those in $ore re$ote areas with li$ited access to the
technological re"uire$ents for #artici#ating in online instruction! 9urther$ore, students
$entioned the awkwardness of online co$$unication and issues with finding testing
centers to co$#lete #roctored e+a$s!
9inally, students were asked to think a(out an instance where they succeeded in an online
class and share the $ost i$#ortant factors that influenced their success! Fartici#ants
re#orted instructor "uality as the $ost influential factor on their #ersonal success in an
online class! Students $entioned the instructorsG a(ility to co$$unicate, knowledge of
the su(=ect $atter, #assion and organi)ational skills as factors that influence instructor
"uality!
,n addition to the o#en2ended "uestions, two >ikert scale "uestions were asked! Students
agreed that the "uality of distance education instruction at UH Maui *ollege $et their
e+#ectations (y res#onding with a $ean score of .!.! Students also agreed, yet not as
strongly, that they are a(le to learn =ust as $uch online as they do in face2to2face courses!
This "uestion received a $ean score of .!5!
Learning Preferences
The learning #references section included three ty#es of "uestions@ $ulti#le choice,
>ikert scale, and o#en2ended! The first $ulti#le choice "uestion asked students what
their #referred $ethod for distance education instruction is! The res#onse o#tions were
,nternet, Sky(ridgeHH,TS and *a(le! -ver half the students, 5B6 #referred online
courses! The second $ost #o#ular res#onse was Sky(ridgeHH,TS at 716! 'one of the
students surveyed selected *a(le as their #referred $ethod for distance education
instruction!
The second $ulti#le choice "uestion asked students how "uickly they e+#ect their online
course instructors to res#ond to "uestions! Most of the students e+#ected a res#onse fro$
their instructors within 1. hours! The longer the res#onse ti$e, the fewer students
selected that o#tion!
#igure *% E+#ected instructor res#onse ti$e!
The second #art of this category reviews res#onses to the >ikert scale "uestions! This
section received so$e of the (est scores as far as student agree$ent level with three out
of the si+ "uestions receiving $edian scores of lower than a .!/! Students agreed that the
following ty#es of assign$ents, listed in the order ranked (y students, hel# to su##ort
their learning in online courses@ worksheets, individual #ro=ects, "ui))es and tests,
discussion (oardsHforu$s and grou# assign$ents! The only ty#e of assign$ent to receive
a $ean score a(ove 7!/ was grou# assign$ents! Students agreed with a $ean score of
.!/ that they feel co$forta(le sharing their o#inions in online discussion (oards!
C &uestion "ean
'core
1 , (elieve worksheets in distance education courses hel# to su##ort $y learning! 1!4
. , (elieve individual #ro=ects in distance education courses hel# to su##ort $y
learning!
1!5
7 , (elieve grou# #ro=ects in distance education courses hel# to su##ort $y 7!1
learning!
8 , (elieve discussion (oards or foru$s in distance education courses hel# to
su##ort $y learning!
.!7
4 , (elieve "ui))es and tests in distance education courses hel# to su##ort $y
learning!
1!3
5 , feel co$forta(le sharing $y honest o#inion in online discussion (oards! .!/
#igure +% 0es#onses to student learning #references!
9inally, students were asked to #rovide their o#inion of using the UH online course
$anage$ent syste$, >auli$a, in an o#en2ended "uestion! The $a=ority of res#onses
fro$ students were very #ositive! Many students cited how they were afraid of the
syste$ when they first started taking online courses (ut "uickly discovered that it was
easy to use and navigate! The only negative feed(ack received was how instructors use it
differently, which one student co$$ented can (e confusing!
,iscussion
?hen looking at the overall res#onses fro$ students, it a##ears that $ost are content
with distance education at UH! 'one of the "uestions were given a $ean score higher
than 7!4 on a scale of 1 %strongly agree& to 4 %strongly disagree&! ?hat this study hel#s to
identify, however, are areas where UH can strengthen and i$#rove distance education! ,t
has also hel#ed to confir$ a need for $ore distance education #rogra$$ing in 'ative
Hawaiian language and culture to su##ort students wanting to #ursue the new Associate
Degree at the co$$unity college level!
?hen o(serving the de$ogra#hic #rofile of the res#ondents it is very clear that distance
education students take on an overwhel$ing a$ount of res#onsi(ility! The $a=ority of
res#ondents were attending school full2ti$e and (alancing school with work! This is an
i$#ortant consideration for online faculty and college ad$inistrators to take into
consideration when #lanning individual courses and co$#lete college #rogra$s!
There was a large res#onse fro$ students of 'ative Hawaiian ancestry! UH strives to
increase #erfor$ance $easures for this #articular de$ogra#hic which was well
re#resented in this study! -n the other hand, only a(out half of the res#ondents were
Hawaiian Studies $a=ors! This indicates that there is de$and for distance education
courses in Hawaiian Studies and >anguage even for non2$a=ors!
The "uestions receiving the lowest level of student agree$ent were those which asked if
UH Maui *ollege and the UH syste$ offer ade"uate course o#tions in 'ative Hawaiian
language and culture! ,t is i$#ortant to note, however, that students are $ore confident
in their a(ility to take culture classes online than language! -ne of the reasons cited (y a
res#ondent is the li$ited a$ount of direct instructor to student co$$unication in online
courses! Students were not only confident that they can succeed in 'ative Hawaiian
culture courses online: they also agreed that they would enroll in the$ if $ore were
availa(le!
Student #artici#ants recogni)ed the need for distance education as an integral #art of
hel#ing the$ achieve their degrees and were confident in their a(ility to succeed in online
courses! ,t is clear fro$ their res#onses to the o#en2ended "uestions on the (enefits and
challenges of taking online courses, that they have a thorough understanding of the #ros
and cons of online learning! -nline learning is no longer a new $ethod of instruction
and the student #artici#ants $ay (e savvier than assu$ed to (e (y faculty and instructors!
Students also recogni)ed that distance learning is attractive (ecause it is a fle+i(le and
convenient o#tion that does not re"uire the$ to relocate!
As far as their #references for online learning, it was interesting that students felt
individual #ro=ects, with a $ean score of 1!5, were far $ore i$#ortant to their learning in
online courses than grou# work, with a $ean score of 7!1! This $ay (e a result of
studentsG (usy schedules and their ina(ility to $eet synchronously with other $e$(ers in
the class! ,t was also sur#rising to find that online discussions were rated second to last
with a $ean score of .!7, considering that online discussions or foru$s are an essential
co$#onent of $ost online courses at UH! The varied a##roaches to i$#le$enting
discussions or foru$s in courses $ay not always re#resent (est #ractices for online
learning and $ay (e included as a for$ality as o##osed to a tool that can su##ort critical
thinking and learning! The >auli$a course $anage$ent syste$ was overwhel$ingly
$et with #ositive student feed(ack!
,t a##ears that one of the strongest indicators of student success in online courses is the
"uality of the instructor! This finding is li$ited and should (e e+#lored further to
deter$ine what the UH syste$ does to $easure the "uality of online instruction and how
it aligns with the different factors $entioned (y students! ,t would also (e interesting to
e+#lore #rofessional develo#$ent o##ortunities s#ecifically for online faculty and
instructors at UH! ,t is also i$#ortant to note that instructor res#onse ti$es are highly
valued (y students! Ma=ority of the #artici#ants e+#ected to hear (ack fro$ an instructor
within 1. hours or less!
?hile student res#onses re$ained $ostly #ositive throughout the survey, there are a few
areas that can (e i$#roved u#on! 9or e+a$#le, none of the survey res#ondents listed
ca(le courses as a #referred $ethod of distance education instruction! ?hen develo#ing
strategies for increasing distance learning o##ortunities in 'ative Hawaiian language and
culture, this $ethod should not (e considered as an essential #art of the e+#ansion #lan!
,n regards to distance education overall, students #erceived a(ility to learn =ust as $uch
online as they could in a face2to2face class should (e i$#roved! This "uestion received a
$ean score of .!5! ?ith students acknowledging this $ethod of instruction as necessary
to achieve their desired degrees, their confidence in their a(ility to learn online should (e
$et with a stronger level of agree$ent!
Transfera(ility issues (etween the ca$#uses and scheduling distance learning
#rogra$$ing to $eet the needs of $ore than =ust the >i(eral Arts degree seekers also
needs to (e addressed! The fact that students were s#lit as far as agreeing whether or not
the UH syste$ is $eeting their goal for distance learning to su##ort students in re$ote
areas is indication that students either are not (eing $ade aware of syste$ efforts, or that
$ore work needs to (e done in this area to (oost student confidence! 9inally, su##ort
services %e!g! training, ,T su##ort, etc!& for distance education students can (e increased to
#ro$ote student success in distance learning!
Conclusion
This needs assess$ent ai$ed to #rovide the UH syste$ with data necessary to assist in
#lanning for distance education o#tions for students interested in #ursuing the new
Associate Degree in Hawaiian Studies! However, there were several li$itations to this
study! The first is the li$ited nu$(er of res#onses! -ut of the a##ro+i$ately 3/ students
solicited, only 15 res#onded! Second, not all islands and rural locations in Hawaii were
re#resented which #rovides a li$ited #ers#ective on distance education at UH! 9inally,
the data were li$ited to student self2re#orted res#onses which were not verifia(le since
anony$ity was critical in the study!
-verall, the data collected #rovides a gli$#se into the e+#erience of the distance
education student who has shown interest in taking courses in 'ative Hawaiian culture
and language! The co$#rehensive survey sent to students not only ai$ed to identify a
need for distance #rogra$$ing in 'ative Hawaiian language and culture, (ut also to
#rovide data that would hel# su##ort the develo#$ent of a #lan to address these needs!
Iy e+#loring student need, #re#aredness, #erce#tions, and learning #references, this
study can serve as a tool for taking the ne+t ste#s in #rogra$ #lanning!
Addressing these needs for students in re$ote areas is of critical i$#ortance! Iecause of
the reliance on distance education #rogra$$ing, these students need ade"uate course
offerings in order to achieve their acade$ic goals! Iy announcing a syste$2wide degree
#rogra$ in any disci#line, the UH syste$ has a res#onsi(ility to ensure all their
constituents are afforded an e"ual o##ortunity to achieve acade$ic success!
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0oss, M! E! %./1/&! Designing and using #rogra$ evaluation as a tool for refor$!
Journal Of $esearch On Leadership Education, % %1.!A&, 83124/5! 0etrieved fro$
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University of Hawaii! %./17&! Distance Learning at the ni"ersity of Ha#aii! 0etrieved
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University of Hawaii *o$$unity *olleges %.//3&! H&& strategic plan 2''2(2')'
update strategic outcomes and performance measures* 2''+(2')% %'ove$(er 1,
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