Summer 7-20-2015



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Dr. Charlayne Myers

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Dr. Christina Kaiser

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Dr. Amy Bergstrom


Research indicates that a strong sense of community has many benefits for the learner, including increased engagement, persistence, satisfaction, and perceived learning. The growth of online learning requires that effective strategies be identified to establish a strong sense of community in a virtual environment. This mixed method study investigated the following primary and secondary question: What are graduate students’ perceptions regarding sense of community in the online graduate programs at a small, private college? What contributes to graduate students’ sense of community in the online graduate programs at a small, private college? A quantitative survey using Likert-type questions was sent to 305 students in 100% online programs to measure their perceptions of sense of community in their online courses. Fifty-one students responded to the survey, which found that a student’s sense of community is impacted by their gender, age, and the number of online courses they have taken. Six of the survey respondents who volunteered to participate in the qualitative portion of the study were randomly chosen to participate in a semi-structured interview. Results of the interviews found that discussions, synchronous activities, instructor presence, and the opportunity to share information and opinions impact students’ sense of community in online courses.


Adult Education, Community Building, Technology, Online Learning

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