Building Community in Online Professional Practice Doctoral Programs

  • Cece Lynn Lively Baylor University
  • Brooke Blevins Baylor University
  • Sandra Talbert Baylor University
  • Sandi Cooper Baylor University
Keywords: Community, Online education, EdD, Cohort, Student Support


Despite high attrition rates and abundant criticisms, online graduate programs continue to grow. This paper describes the efforts of one online doctoral program that focused on developing programmatic support structures to increase community. Utilizing a qualitative, case study research design, including surveys and semi-structured interviews, this study examined two research questions: 1) In what ways did students experience a sense of community? 2) What elements of an online professional doctoral program did students find most influential in developing a learning community? Findings indicate that students experience community through peer collaboration, program support, and shared learning and networking. A sense of community was developed through the cohort model, strong student support services, synchronous live sessions, and relationships formed with faculty. As a result, a community of practice was formed among program participants. Findings from this study have the potential to aid other online graduate programs as they design and implement structures to foster student success and retention.



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How to Cite
Lively, C. L., Blevins, B., Talbert, S., & Cooper, S. (2021). Building Community in Online Professional Practice Doctoral Programs. Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, 6(3), 21–29.
Themed - Online EdD