A Descriptive Content Analysis of Policies Related to the Implementation of Openness at Research Intensive Universities In the United States

Fredrick W. Baker III
Instructional Design and Development, University of South Alabama

 I will describe a study examining institutional policy documents for statements related to the implementation of openness. The purposes of this study are to explore the current state of policies related to the implementation of openness in higher education, and to provide guiding recommendations to higher education institutions looking to address the issue of implementation of openness in their own policies. Policy plays a critical role in the implementation of innovations such as openness. The policy environment is complex and potentially confusing. Technology enables the proliferation of openness, and higher education institutions are now facing a number of challenges associated with the implementation of openness. Not much is known about the stance of higher education or the state of its response to openness. As a result, there is not much guidance available for institutions looking to address the implementation of openness in their institutions.

This proposal involves a descriptive study that follows summative content analysis methodology. This methodology supports searching policy documents for relevant keywords and evaluating the results qualitatively using a rubric. The research design is a qualitative dominant sequential mixed methods model, meaning that I will focus primarily on the qualitative elements of the study and will provide limited descriptive quantitative analysis derived from the qualitative data.

Five major areas of openness affecting higher education institutions were drawn from the literature. These are Open Access Research, Open Content, Open Teaching and Learning, Open Source Software, and Other, less pronounced, areas of openness. I will search the faculty handbooks, strategic plans, and technology plans of a stratified random sample of research intensive higher education institutions for keywords related to the major areas of openness. I will then evaluate the resulting statements based on the directness with which they address openness and on their policy role as enabler, barrier, or neutral toward the implementation of openness.