As with all other elements of this research process, we can initiate a discussion on the significance of the research with a reiteration of the fact that amongst educators without classification, the perspective on post-tenure review is generally hostile. This is because tenure is considered by most educators to be an important feature of the profession demanding of protection. To this end, Ceci et al. (2006) indicate that "despite the modest pay and long probationary period, in those countries that still award tenure, once a scholar achieves this rank, his or her professional life can seem to be set. Because such security is uncommon among professionals, those who have tenure jealously guard it against proposals to limit its scope." (Ceci et al., 553) and yet, the concept remains very much under attack by such policies as post-tenure review, which professors regard as a threat to the stability earned by length of stay.
Entering into the proposed research, we proceed with the view that the vast majority of traditional educators view post-tenure review negatively, assessing that this policy interferes with creativity, academic freedom and curricular flexibility. The significance of the proposed research would be in determining whether this same consensus exists amongst professors working primarily through the online medium. This is of value because it offers another perspective on an issue which is subject to widespread disagreement and empirical uncertainty. By measuring the perspective of those teaching through online media, we anticipate gaining an alternate educator perspective which yet confirms the sentiment of traditional educators concerning the negative impact of post-tenure review.
As noted by the research proposal, the central problem of the research process is an uncertainty over the impact of post-tenure review on the job performance of online university professors. This problem contributes to the primary purpose of the proposed research, which is to prove that online professors view post-tenure review as a negative policy which attacks the security provided by tenure without achieving any significant gains in the areas of job performance or quality of education. These two statements provide us with a set of key terms which require definition within the specific context of the proposed research. Several biases in defining these terms will be observable and are specific with assumptions made throughout the research process. These biases do not prevent findings of the research from diverging from said assumptions.
Tenure is the status which is rewarded to professional educators once they have achieved a certain length of stay in a position; have marked certain professional qualifications; and have thus been deemed qualified for a condition of long-term job security. Within the context of the study, tenure is seed positively as a necessary feature of the educational professional Helms et al. (2001) contribute to this perspective, noting that "tenure has traditionally been in place to reward senior faculty so they may be innovative, controversial, and use their time to mentor to junior faculty or take an active role in university governance and community initiatives." (Helms et al., 2001, p. 322) the research proceeds from the view that these are appropriate opportunities to avail to educators as a way of always improving their professional qualifications.
From the perspective of this research, and preceded by the critical article by Buck (2007), post-tenure review is a performance monitoring procedure applied to educators who have earned tenure designed almost explicitly to undermine the values and goals of tenure. The job security, academic freedom and political autonomy afforded by tenure are subverted by a process which is inherently intended to identify negative byproducts of the tenure practice. As a result, post-tenure review is discredited in much research and in the discourse of educational professionals, with both arguing that post-tenure review is simultaneously a threat to academic freedom which damages the flexibility and morale of educators and that the practice leads to a number of negative unintended consequences which suggest that it implementation is flawed.
This refers to Higher Education professionals who engage their subjects through the web-medium. This is not otherwise constrained by any limitations to definition. Such is to say that "teaching, service and scholarship are complex, multidimensional activities. Teaching responsibilities in graduate schools of social work my involve traditional classroom instruction as well as student advising, computerized distance-learning instruction, field instruction, the supervision of independent studies and research projects, and direction of doctoral dissertations." (Green, 2005, p. 121) From this perspective, the research leaves open the prospect of any such roles as mediated by online learning technologies.
This refers to the primary interest of both those supporting and refuting the value of tenure. Namely, job performance refers to an empirically measured performance amongst educators that can be used to assess any impacts to the benefit or detriment of the quality of education through post-tenure review practices. The research is also geared toward assuring high performance quality, following from the logic provided by Helms et al. that "if quality improvements help organizations increase productivity, reduce costs, boost market share, and ensure business survival and growth, similar results should be possible in the educational environment, providing faculty an opportunity for career redirection and/or professional renewal." (Helms et al., 2001, p. 325) This priority does not, in the perspective of researchers, comport necessarily with the adoption of post-tenure review as suggested by Helms et al. This leaves the research open to alternative performance review policies which do not inherently attack the tenure institution.
The brief literature review conducted here is intended to validate the selection of online professors as a sample group due for investigation. First, the literature review establishes the critical argument against post-tenure review. Subsequently, the literature addressed here will focus particularly on the relationship between online professors and matter relating to tenure.
All indications entering into the research endeavor proposed here are that professors, educators and instructors of higher education view post-tenure review as a policy particularly dictated by those outside of the educational profession. This means that research confirms a view that the conflict over post-tenure review is largely a drummed up controversy on the part of those with decidedly political rather than practical interests. According, DeFleur (2007) claims that "such controversies emphasize the necessity of some system to keep critics, politicians, boards of trustees, higher administration, prominent citizens, generous donors, and others in positions of power from dictating what professors should study, be permitted to say in classrooms, or publish concerning their findings and conclusions." (DeFleur, 108)
This is a view which is further endorsed by research which claims that post-tenure review has in its specific form become a sort of penalty system design to impose unduly upon all professors. In doing so, the policy has become an obstruction to the performance priorities of higher education instructors. So is this supported in the study by Gray, (2005), which remarks on the view of professional teaching associations that "periodic formal institution evaluation of each postprobationary faculty member would bring scant benefit, would incur unacceptable costs, non-only in money and time, but also in dampening of creativity and of collegial relationships, and would threaten academic freedom." (Gray, 14)
In addition to a discussion on its practical consequences, the research considered here also provided a clear case for the view that post-tenure review strategies are part of a larger effort to erode the system of tenure on the whole. Galambos (2010) remarks on this point that "more and more scholars believe that academic freedom is eroding. Data from an international survey of faculty members indicated that in 2007 just over 59% of U.S. faculty members believed that their college administration strongly supported academic freedom, down from 65% in a comparable survey conducted in 1992." (Galambos, 2)
This is a pattern which runs inversely to the continuing escalation in the role and visibility of online professors. To this point, Feintuch (2008) helps to elucidate the position of online professors where this subject is concerned, providing a valuable segue into the specific focus of the proposed research. Feintuch quotes one such professor, who reported that "my teaching environment is different than the classroom setting but the goals are the same; maximize the student's educational experience." (Feintuch, 26) in Feintuch's research, there is cause to presume that online professors with access to such status will tend to offer vocal and unwavering support to the institution of tenure. Feintuch's article identifies the existence of tenure-track programs specialized for the professional development of online professors, taking the view that the need to push forward the evolution of instruction through this medium justifies the adoption of tenure-based strategies. Accordingly, Feintuch reports that "the online-only tenure track program allows us to develop a core group of professors who are experts not only in the discipline they are teaching but also in teaching in the online medium itself,'…