Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of philosophy in urban studies and public affairs


Urban Studies

First Advisor

Zingale, Nicholas

Second Advisor

Jones, Mittie

Third Advisor

Neuendorf, Kimberly

Subject Headings

Communication, Education, Public Administration


Once considered a fringe and unreliable pedagogical approach for higher education, online learning has entered the mainstream. While the adoption of online learning has been on the rise for the past decade, higher education’s forced adoption of online learning in response to COVID-19 has accelerated the curve. It has raised questions on the viability, sustainability, and interest in online learning for teachers, students, and administrative leadership. The most important question is: has forced adoption forever changed pedagogical approaches for higher education? This research attempts to answer this question from the perspectives of the teachers and faculty forced to adopt online teaching in response to the pandemic. Working from Roger’s innovative-decision process and using a mixed- methods research design consisting of surveys and interviews of faculty, a new theory of diffusion was produced that includes forced adoption as a primary stage. The research focused on three crucial sub questions: (1) Will faculty choose to continue online teaching; (2) how has forced adoption shaped the innovation-decision process; and (3) what opportunities for professional transition does forced-adoption present. A new way of thinking about the diffusion of innovation has been produced, and offers what this might mean for the pedagogical future of higher education.