School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Alexandra Barnett


Personalized System of Instruction, Keller, instructional design, online MPH


Online and Distance Education | Public Health


The purpose of this collective case study was to describe instructors’ attitudes regarding Keller’s personalized system of instruction (PSI) for a sample of online master’s-level public health instructors at an institution of higher education. The central research question was how do public health instructors describe their attitudes regarding personalized system of instruction and online graduate education? The institution selected for this investigation was “University A.” The theory guiding this study was Keller’s personalized system of instruction (PSI), as it features five elements for student-centered course design in higher education learning. The elements include: (a) self-pacing, (b) unit mastery, (c) lectures and demonstrations to motivate students, (d) learning from assigned textbooks and written materials, and (e) use of proctors to assist with testing, grading, tutoring students and answering student questions. This study recruited 13 instructors for virtual, semi-structured interviews, in which participants shared their attitudes regarding the five elements of PSI. This study recruited a virtual focus group consisting of five instructors to explore attitudes further. This study featured document analysis of online master’s-level public health syllabi. Manual coding was used to develop themes from transcripts and documents. Six themes emerged from the triangulation of data: (a) time, (b) assessment considerations, (c) multiple sources of instruction, (d) instructor roles, (e) strategies to motivate students, and (f) personalized online education. The results may assist with the future design and development of flexible, personalized online master’s-level public health coursework.