Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


David Graf

Committee Member

Charles A. Schlosser


Distance Education, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Legal Education, Phenomenography, Rogers Attributes Theory


This applied dissertation was designed to determine the variations in law school deans’ conceptions of distance education (DE) as an educational model within the American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school. Currently, not a single ABA-accredited law school offers a plan of study for completion of a Juris Doctor (JD) degree utilizing the DE educational model. The law school dean is an essential opinion leader providing leadership for all stakeholders of the law school. Gaining a better understanding of law school deans’ perceptions towards DE is critical if DE is to become an accepted educational model in ABA-accredited legal education. Nineteen deans of ABA-accredited law schools from every region of the country were interviewed. The phenomenographic qualitative approach was utilized in the study, which seeks to explain variation in understanding a phenomenon among a set of participants. In phenomenographic research, all interviews are transcribed verbatim, and the transcripts became the central focal point of analysis in the investigation. The participants were treated as a group, and the goal of the data analysis was to identify variations in the phenomenon across the group, not between individual participants in the group. The construction approach was used to develop the categories of description. As a theoretical framework, Rogers’s perceived attributes theory was used to develop the categories of description in the analysis of the verbatim transcripts. The findings indicated that the variation in conceptions of ABA-accredited law school deans towards DE could be determined by the 5 constructs of Rogers’s perceived attributes theory: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability.

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