ERIC Number: ED470181
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001-Nov
Formation of Community in a Distance Education Program.
Misanchuck, Melanie; Dueber, Bill
One of the biggest challenges facing distance education programs is attrition. One potential way of reducing attrition is to foster a sense of community among students. Students who are emotionally and intellectuality invested in each other and in their program are more likely to prosper in a multi-year distance program. This paper briefly explores those effects ascribed to community that are assumed to be crucial for distance education programs to succeed, and then focuses on a theoretical framework knows as the Psychological Sense of Community (PSOC). From this basis the communication between graduate students in a distanced education cohort is explored to see how well the PSOC can be applied to this environment. The paper concludes that the psychological sense of community, as defined in McMillan and Chavis' (1986) model, appears to be a meaningful, well-established and powerful tool for the rigorous investigation of community. The model offers a lens through which to explore how a group of students perceives itself. Application of the sense of community to qualitative methods is in its infancy, but this model lends itself well to this type of investigation. Future work will help determine if the model is able to offer insight into real-world applications of course design and structures that may, in turn, affect attrition rates and student satisfaction. (Contains 50 references.) (Author/AEF)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: In: Annual Proceedings of Selected Research and Development [and] Practice Papers Presented at the National Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (24th, Atlanta, GA, November 8-12, 2001). Volumes 1-2; see IR 021 504.