Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Johnson, Laura R.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Educational evaluation; Educational technology; Higher education; Education; Higher--Web-based instruction; Distance education--Web-based instruction; Community college students--Attitudes


This qualitative study explored the experiences of an online learner at a community college. The purpose of the study was to investigate community college students' perception of online courses through an examination of their experiences with online learning. The community of inquiry theory was used as a guide to better understand the importance of student-teacher interaction, student-student interaction, and student-content interaction in online learning. The experiences of 15 community college students, who had completed an online course at a Midwestern community college, were examined to determine levels of interaction and presence. A focus group was interviewed and used for additional research into the examination of community college online learners. Finally, artifacts were collected and analyzed. The artifacts included essay assignments, syllabi, chapter questions, a research paper and discussion boards. The data collected provided three major findings. The first was that community college students enrolled in online courses had both positive and negative experiences. The second finding was that students preferred taking classes face-to-face rather than online and third, students placed greater importance on student-teacher interaction. The role of the teacher emerged as a pivotal component in the overall satisfaction of online courses. These findings suggest that future research could be done to further examine the design of an effective online course and the training for online teachers.


Advisors: Laura R. Johnson.||Committee members: Sharon E. Smaldino; Cindy S. York.


174 pages




Northern Illinois University

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