Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

Major Professor

Michael L. Waugh

Committee Members

Schuyler Huck, Blanche W. O’Bannon, Barbara Thayer-Bacon


The purpose of this study was to examine issues related to online graduate course effectiveness, and graduate student perceptions of characteristics of online learning environments and their effectiveness, and to explore the relationship between graduate student perceptions and student success in online courses. The research methodology employed was that of survey research, using the Graduate Student Online Learning Environment Survey instrument, targeted at graduate students enrolled in online courses at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A total of 238 graduate students participated in this study. Findings revealed that approximately 87.4% of graduate students reported positive online learning experiences. Participants identified themselves as highly self-directed learners. Several critical individual characteristics including marital status, employment status, student status, future enrollment planning, enrollment in online programs, and number of online courses played a moderating role in online graduate students’ online course learning. However, based on the data from this study, no relationships were found among levels of age, gender, race/ethnicity, and previous online course experience and graduate students’ online course learning perceptions. Only a small portion (3.4%) of graduate students who responded to the survey reported online course non-completion in the fall semester of 2014.

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