Understanding Online Teacher Best Practices: A Thematic Analysis to Improve Learning

December 01, 2014

The purpose of this study was to examine brick-and-mortar and online teacher best practice themes using thematic analysis and a newly developed theory-based analytic process entitled Synthesized Thematic Analysis Criteria (STAC). The STAC was developed to facilitate the meaningful thematic analysis of research based best practices of K-12 education delivery options. In the study, data for the thematic analysis consisted of published research about best practices in both brick-and-mortar and online education. The use of both brick-and-mortar as well as online teacher best practices provided an opportunity to identify commonalities among these modes of delivery. Based on these commonalities, the thematic analysis detected emergent themes, which could be used as a foundation upon which online teachers might build specialized practice. As well, research-validated teacher best practice themes generated from this study may be considered a starting point for defining teacher best practices in online education and for their development. Emergent themes were discussed in the context of the data and the environment of online education. The STAC analytic process provides a foundation for analysis and may be used by researchers for other thematic analyses in the future.