Students Desired and Experienced Levels of Connectivity to an Asynchronous, Online, Distance Degree ProgramReport as inadecuate

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Online Learning, v20 n3 p244-263 Sep 2016

This study examined graduate students' desired and experienced levels of connectivity in an online, asynchronous distance degree program. Connectivity was conceptualized as the students' feelings of community and involvement, not their level of access to the Internet. Graduate students enrolled in a distance degree program were surveyed on both desired and experienced connectivity to their program, students, instructors, and advisors. Overall, student's desired and experienced high connectivity to the program, their advisors, and their instructors. However, they did not want, or experience, high connectivity with fellow students. Specifically, three findings emerged: (1) students desired high connectivity overall, with greatest connectivity desired with advisors and less with other students; (2) participants desired connectivity with both instructors and other students presented statistically significant variation by age category; and (3) students "experienced" high connectivity overall. The relationships between graduate online learners and their instructors and advisors were correlated with the level of connectivity students experienced with their program. It was not as important to foster high connectivity among peers in the online learning environment. Further study should compare desired and experienced connectivity between departments, and across other universities to determine variables that may influence the desire for and perception of connectivity.

Descriptors: Asynchronous Communication, Online Courses, Distance Education, Preferences, Student Attitudes, Student Experience, Expectation, Graduate Students, Sense of Community, Student Participation, Student Surveys, Teacher Student Relationship, Peer Relationship, Special Education Teachers, Questionnaires, Online Surveys, Correlation, Age Differences, Faculty Advisers, Likert Scales, Statistical Analysis

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:

Author: Schroeder, Shawnda; Baker, Mary; Terras, Katherine; Mahar, Patti; Chiasson, Kari


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