A Qualitative Inquiry Of Online Learning From the Perspective Of Community College Students

Apr 18th, 2013 | Category: Dissertation Abstracts @ Concordia
By Theresa Capra


Research indicates that community college students are particularly attracted to online education for its flexibility (Horn & Nevill, 2006). However, they are also more prone to attrition and failure in online courses (Conklin, 2008; Smith Jaggars & Xu, 2011).

This qualitative inquiry explored the phenomenon of online learning on a community college campus within the paradigm of Community of Inquiry (CoI).  The learning experience of 15 community college students taking fully online courses was examined in-depth for evidence of social, cognitive, and instructional domains; identified by CoI as critical components for the facilitation of a meaningful learning experience in computer-mediated environments.

Findings convey only limited social, cognitive, and teaching presence and as a result, a meaningful learning experience was not achieved for the participants. Findings from this study raise questions about the pedagogical soundness of fully online courses for community college students. Future research should examine online learning as a distinct pedagogy and focus more intently on the teaching and learning process.

Keywords: online learning, online courses, community college students, two-year students, and Community of Inquiry.

Author Information

Contact: Theresa Capra, PhD, Educational Leadership, Concordia University Chicago 2012, Associate Professor Education.

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