Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Norma T. Mertz
Vincent Anfara, Grady Bogue, John Lounsbury
The purpose of the study was to compare the experiences of ten community college students enrolled in either the online version or traditional lecture-discussion version of a mathematics course taught by the same teacher. Six participants were enrolled in the online section and four participants were enrolled in the traditional, lecture-discussion section.
A qualitative approach relying heavily on phenomenology served as the primary focus for data collection and analysis. Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted with each participant at different points in the semester. Additionally, journals were maintained by each participant about their experience in the course. The data were analyzed inductively to derive the themes that characterized the experience of each group and the group themes were then compared.
The themes that characterized the experience of the students that studied online were: 1) Need for Flexibility; 2) Self-Discipline; 3) Good Feel to the Course; and 4) Social Connection with Fellow Students. The themes that characterized the experience of the students enrolled in the lecture-discussion section were 1) Preference for a Structured Learning Environment; 2) Good Feel to the Course; and 3) Social Connection with Fellow Students. In comparing their experiences, both groups had a good, positive feel about the course and developed a social connection with their respective classmates. Also, the groups differed in the manner each preferred to approach working on the course.
North, Michael, "Examining the Experiences of Students Engaged in Online Study. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 2005.