Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Phenomenological Study of Meaningful Online Learning for College Students
by Theriault, Normand Robert, Ph.D., Northcentral University, 2020, 162; 27994522
Abstract (Summary)

The problem addressed through this study was that the major components of the Community of Inquiry framework (CoI) that comprise a meaningful online learning experience—including the original constructs of teaching presence, cognitive presence, and social presence—are still ill-defined. The purpose of this study was to discover how college students experience teaching presence, cognitive presence, and social presence in online courses. The theoretical framework for the study was the CoI. A hermeneutic phenomenological design was used to address three research questions focused on the perceptions and lived experiences of college students related to teaching presence, cognitive presence, and social presence in online courses. Ten college students of varying gender, nationality, and levels of education participated in semi-structured interviews. A modified version of Vagle’s whole-part-whole analytic process was used to analyze data. The findings included five major themes: (a) teaching presence is “being seen” by the instructor, (b) teaching presence emerges when expectations are made clear, (c) cognitive presence is achieved through self-discipline and reflection, (d) cognitive presence is enhanced by real world connections, and (e) social presence is achieved through sustained discussion and personal revelation. The implications of this study were that meaningful online learning is a matter of “perceptions of reality”—the combination of an instructor’s ability to make students feel seen while establishing clear expectations for the course, a student’s ability to be self-disciplined and adopt a reflective attitude about real world problems and solutions, and a group’s ability to sustain discussion and be open and honest about themselves and their ideas. Based on the results of this study, recommendations for practice include designing courses that make students feel seen by the instructor, that feature engaging and real world content, and that provide opportunities for sustained discussion and personal communication. Recommendations for future research include more phenomenological studies of the CoI, a focus on graduate student experiences of the community of inquiry presences, and mixed methods studies on the CoI that supplement qualitative findings with quantitative data.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McClendon, Cristie
Commitee: Shaw, Melanie, Vance, Joanna
School: Northcentral University
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI 81/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational technology, Higher education
Keywords: Cognitive presence, Community of inquiry framework, Higher education, Meaningful online learning, Social presence, Teaching presence
Publication Number: 27994522
ISBN: 9798645462789
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