Date of Award

12-18-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen W. Harmon

Second Advisor

Dr. Brendan Calandra

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary Ariail

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Laurie Dias

Abstract

The use of the Web as an instructional medium has gone hand in hand with the ever-increasing growth of the computer and the proliferation of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Early studies provided a foundation on building web-based learning environments and focusing on presenting the online content. However, as online or e-learning continues to grow, it has brought pivotal changes to the educational landscape (Gatlin). Online learning has now been adopted by many throughout the world, precipitating a shift in research from “how to develop courses online” to “what attributes best contribute to the success of an online course.” Research has been conducted on student satisfaction within an online environment and the significance of achieving an online community to enhance the educational aspects of an online course. Feeling involved in the community is vital to feeling successful in a course (Wegerif). Yet, the concept of connectedness between student and student as well as student and instructor warrants further investigation. This research associates connectedness with the perceived closeness between student and instructor. Using a qualitative case study of a completely online class, the researcher asked participants to respond to a questionnaire and participate in interviews in an attempt to analyze student-instructor connectedness within the online environment. This study addressed the following question: Is student-instructor and instructor-student connectedness a part of this online community? The implications of this research expand understanding of online learning and whether student-instructor connectedness plays a role in student perception of the instructor, the class, and perhaps their satisfaction in a Web-based learning environment.

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