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Online Learning, v19 n4 Sep 2015

This article presents the quantitative findings of an exploratory mixed methods study that investigated first- and second-year online graduate master's students': 1) perceptions of the importance of, and satisfaction with, administrative, academic, technical, and online community supports; 2) personal factors and grit level; and 3) differences, if any, that existed among students, in these areas. Findings showed that a large majority of students rated course-level supports (e.g., instructor support, embedded help, library) as important, in contrast to supports that might be needed on rare occasions (e.g., career services, bookstore) or by fewer students (e.g., veteran and international student services, writing center). Data stratification revealed differences between white and non-white students for career and counseling services, which white students rated "unimportant" and non-white students rated "very important." Differences in students' perceptions of importance and satisfaction with some services highlighted instructor and technical support as areas of focus for potential improvements. The study raises several questions important to online graduate education, such as: 1) Which supports and resources should be offered by institutions of higher education to promote success in online learning for online master's graduate students? and 2) Are there strategies that need to be developed to better address the individual needs of a diverse student body, including nontraditional and underrepresented minority students?

Descriptors: Graduate Students, Masters Programs, Student Attitudes, Satisfaction, Electronic Learning, Mixed Methods Research, Research Methodology, Discovery Processes, Racial Differences, Career Counseling, Counseling Services, Preferences, Nontraditional Students, Disproportionate Representation, Minority Group Students, Academic Persistence, School Holding Power, Demography, Academic Support Services, Social Support Groups

Online Learning Consortium, Inc. P.O. Box 1238, Newburyport, MA 01950. Tel: 888-898-6209; Fax: 888-898-6209; e-mail: olj[at]; Web site:

Autor: Milman, Natalie B.; Posey, Laurie; Pintz, Christine; Wright, Kayla; Zhou, Pearl


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