Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Kathy Smart

Second Advisor

Margaret Zidon

Abstract

ABSTRACT

There is a need to identify and discuss community college student perceptions of online education as a window to an array of challenges that these institutions face. Student perspectives can confirm, or disconfirm, the impressions and accounts of other community college stakeholders and decision makers.

The purpose of this study was to provide a comprehensive review of the literature from 1995-2015 that answered the primary research question, "What are the student perceptions of online education at community colleges in the United States?" Extensive strategies were used to locate information for review. Analysis of the literature yielded a framework for formulating findings. That heuristic consisted of input elements interacting within a context to yield an outcome, and for some interactions, also a product.

This research produced six findings: 1) early distance education and Internet technology interacted within the context of a community college yielding online education infrastructure, 2) student attributes and online education infrastructure interacted within the context of open access at community colleges yielding learning opportunities for students, 3) online education infrastructure and learning opportunities interacted within a context of instruction resulting in student perceptions of online education at community colleges, 4) interactions among course content, the instructor,

and the students within the context of online education yielded the potential for learning which produced student perceptions of online education, 5) cognitive, social, and teaching presence interacted within the context of a community of learners yielding the potential for learning which produced student perceptions of the quality of online education, and 6) currently, there are no reports of student-identified best practices that are essential for student satisfaction, learning, and success in online education at community colleges.

There is only a small body of literature on student perceptions of online education at community colleges--much of which offers conflicting findings which make it difficult to formulate generalizations. Further, for the case studies of online courses, disciplines, or a single college there are yet no follow-up investigations that test the verification, reliability, and generalizability of the findings. Both qualitative and quantitative research are needed in the areas identified in this study.

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