Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Beth Rous


Research has indicated accredited, U.S. higher education-governed intensive English programs (IEPs) often struggle financially due to a scarcity of resources (namely students) because of political and global economic factors and increased competition (ICEF Monitor, 2017; IIE, 2017; Ladika, 2018; Soppelsa, 2015). However, few IEPs advertise online language acquisition (OLA) courses despite the increase in online study methods at the higher education institutes governing the programs and its use by competitors. The purpose of this study was to determine the status and extent of OLA diffusion in U.S. IEPs, how IEP directors and faculty perceived OLA, and whether they perceived themselves to be the leaders in its diffusion.

Drawing on Rogers’ (1962) diffusion of innovation framework to inform the instrument methodology, this study employed a quantitative, cross-sectional survey. The study used the Rasch measurement model (1960) as the framework informing the instrument’s design and analysis.

All 249 executive directors and 2,492 faculty in the 249 accredited, higher education-governed IEPs were invited to participate in the study, and 328 directors and faculty from 121 IEPs opted to do so. Major findings revealed 40.5% had experimented with online courses within the last five years, and 24.8% offered it currently. The Winsteps dimensionality analysis showed each of the six innovation characteristics performed as a separate strand supporting the dimension of OLA adoption potential. The Wright map and item measures revealed respondents perceived OLA visibility (1.52 logits) as the most difficult-to-endorse characteristic followed by complexity (0.48 logits). The least challenging characteristic was articulated benefits (-0.39 logits), and the easiest item was technology confidence (-1.21 logits) followed by technology clusters (-0.65 logits). Regarding leadership in promoting OLA adoption, 53.2% of the sample claimed they were involved in its leadership at some level, and 31.1% reported leadership involvement at institutes currently lacking online English courses.

This study suggests respondents found OLA to be beneficial for their IEP with articulable results. Cost and technology confidence were not viewed as prohibitive, but respondents lacked confidence that OLA would lead to increased enrollment. Because of the high level of OLA leadership in their IEP, the adoption of online language courses appears to be moving in an upward trajectory.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)