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ERIC Number: EJ1106735
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jul
Pages: 34
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1547-500X
Understanding the Online Doctoral Learning Experience: Factors That Contribute to Students' Sense of Community
Byrd, Jeremy Carl
Journal of Educators Online, v13 n2 p102-135 Jul 2016
As the number of students taking online courses continues to grow steadily, it is becoming increasingly important to inquire about the experiences of these students in order to understand the factors that contribute to their success. It is imperative that the social needs of students be understood, as interaction is an important aspect of the educational experience. "Sense of community", which results from interaction, can make a significant impact on the success of online students. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of doctoral students who have taken courses online in an effort to illuminate the factors that contribute to their sense of community. To achieve a better understanding of these factors, in-depth interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 12 doctoral students. As a result of the analysis, it was determined that the following four factors contributed to the sense of community felt amongst students enrolled in an online doctoral program: (a) a cohort experience, (b) a face-to-face, on-campus orientation course, (c) faith, prayer, and spirituality, and (d) challenge and tragedy. The results of this study add to the existing literature on understanding the online student experience and sense of community within the context of online higher education, and the implications and recommendations made as a result of the findings in this study can be used by faculty members and administrators to better facilitate sense of community in online courses and degree programs.
Journal of Educators Online. 500 University Drive, Dothan, AL 36303. Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Alabama
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A