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

Abstract

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.

References

References

Aggarwal, A. K., Adlakha, V., & Mersha, T. (2006). Continuous improvement process in web-based education at a public university. E-Service Journal, 4(2), 3-26. https://doi:10.1353/esj.2006.0007.

Bettinger, E., & Loeb, S. (2017). Promises and pitfalls of online education (Evidence Speaks Reports Vol 2, #15). Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/ccf_20170609_loeb_evidence_speaks1.pdf

Bista, K., & Cox, D. W. (2014). Cohort-based doctoral programs: What we have learned over the last 18 years. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 9(1), 1-20.

Browne- Ferrigno, T. & Maughan, B. D. (2016) Building and sustaining a learning cohort. In J. A. Perry (ed.) The EdD and the scholarly practitioner, (pp. 45-63). Information Age Publishing

Creswell, J. W. (2002). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Merrill.

Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED). (2010).Retrieved from http://www.cpedinitiative.org/design-concept-definitions

Cockrell, C. N., & Shelley, K. (2011). The Relationship between Academic Support Systems and Intended Persistence in Doctoral Education. Journal of

College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 12(4), 469–484. https://doi.org/10.2190/CS.12.4.e

Curtin, N., Stewart, A. J., & Ostrove, J. M. (2013). Fostering academic self-concept: Advisor support and sense of belonging among international and domestic graduate students. American educational research journal, 50(1), 108-137.

Cross, K. P. (1998). Why learning communities? Why now?. About campus, 3(3), 4-11.

Dittmar, E., & McCracken, H. (2012). Promoting Continuous Quality Improvement in Online Teaching: The META Model. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(2), 163-175. http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v16i2.269

Eggens, L., van der Werf, M.P.C. & Bosker, R.J. The influence of personal networks and social support on study attainment of students in university education. High Educ 55, 553–573 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-007-9074-4

Endo, J., & Harpel, R. L. (1982). The effect of student-faculty interaction on students’ educational outcomes. Research in Higher Education.

Gardner, S. K. (2008). Fitting the mold of graduate school: A qualitative study of socialization in doctoral education. Innovative Higher Education, 33(2), 125–138. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-008-9068-x

Gisemba Bagaka’s, J., Bransteter, I., Rispinto, S., & Badillo, N. (2015). Exploring student success in a doctoral program: The power of mentorship and research engagement. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 10, 323–342. https://doi.org/10.28945/2291

Golde, C. M. (2005). The role of the department and discipline in doctoral student attrition: Lessons from four departments. The Journal of Higher Education, 76(6), 669-700.

Hayes, E. F. (2005). Approaches to mentoring: How to mentor and be mentored. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 17(11), 442.

Hill, M. S. (1995). Education leadership cohort models: Changing the talk to change the walk. Planning and Changing, 26(3/4), 179–189.

Ivankova, N. V., & Stick, S. L. (2007). Students’ persistence in a distributed doctoral program in educational leadership in higher education: A mixed methods study. Research in Higher Education, 48(1), 93.

Kerrigan, M. R., & Hayes, K. M. (2016). EdD students’ self-efficacy and interest in conducting research. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 11, 147-162.

Lange, N. de, Pillay, G., & Chikoko, V. (2011). Doctoral learning: A case for a cohort model of supervision and support. https://doi.org/10.15700/saje.v31n1a413

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (2002). Legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice. Supporting lifelong learning: Perspectives on learning, 1, 111.

Lovitts, B. E. (2001). Leaving the Ivory Tower: The causes and consequences of departure from doctoral study. Rowman & Littlefield.

Lowery, K., Geesa, R., & McConnell, K. (2018). Designing a peer-mentoring program for education doctorate (EdD) students. Higher Learning Research Communications, 8(1), 2.

Maher, M. A. (2005). The evolving meaning and influence of cohort membership. Innovative Higher Education, 30(3), 195–211. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-005-6304-5

McMillan, D. W., & Chavis, D. M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology, 14(1), 6–23. https://doi.org/10.1002/1520-6629(198601)14:1<6::AID-JCOP2290140103>3.0.CO;2-I

Merriam, S. B. (2008). Adult learning theory for the twenty-first century. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2008(119), 93–98. https://doi.org/10.1002/ace.309

Moore, M. G. (1993). Theory of transactional distance. Theoretical principles of distance education, 1, 22-38.

Norris, C. J., & Barnett, B. (1994). Cultivating a new leadership paradigm: From cohorts to communities. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED387877

Perry, J. A. (Ed.). (2016). The EdD and the scholarly practitioner. IAP.

Reynolds, K. C., & Hebert, F. T. (1998). Learning achievements of students in cohort groups. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 46(3), 34–42. https://doi.org/10.1080/07377366.1998.10400354

Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J., Spaulding, L. S., & Bade, B. (2014). Completion of educational doctorates: How universities can foster persistence. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 9, 293-308.

Rourke, L., Anderson, T., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (1999). Assessing social presence in asynchronous text-based computer conferencing. The Journal of Distance Education / Revue de l’ducation Distance, 14(2), 50–71.

Rovai, A. P., & Wighting, M. J. (2005). Feelings of alienation and community among higher education students in a virtual classroom. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(2), 97–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2005.03.001

Schaffhauser, D. (2020, March 25). Enrollment in Online Programs Flattening for Now. Campus Technology. https://campustechnology.com/articles/2020/03/25/enrollment-in-online-programs-flattening-out-for-now.aspx

Stake, R. E. (2006). Multiple case study analysis. Guilford Press.

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. M. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques (p. 270). Sage Publications, Inc.

Swan, K., Shea, P., Fredericksen, E., Pickett, A., Pelz, W., & Maher, G. (2000). Building knowledge building communities: Consistency, contact and communication in the virtual classroom. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 23(4), 359–383. https://doi.org/10.2190/W4G6-HY52-57P1-PPNE

Terrell, S. R. (2005). A longitudinal investigation of the effect of information perception and focus on attrition in online learning environments. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(3), 213-219.

Terrell, S. R., Snyder, M. M., Dringus, L. P., & Maddrey, E. (2012). A grounded theory of connectivity and persistence in a limited residency doctoral program. Qualitative Report, 17, 62.

Tinto, V. (2010). From theory to action: Exploring the institutional conditions for student retention. In Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. 25). Springer Netherlands.

Tinto, V. (2000). Learning better together: The impact of Learning Communities on Student Success. In Journal of Institutional Research, (Vol. 9).

Tinto, V. (2003). Learning better together: The impact of learning communities on student success. Higher Education monograph series, 1(8), 1-8.

Tu, C. H., & Corry, M. (2003). Building active online interaction via a collaborative learning community. Computers in the Schools, 20(3), 51-59.

Tuñón, J., & Ramirez, L. (2010). ABD or EdD? A model of library training for distance doctoral students. Journal of Library Administration, 50(7-8), 989-996.

Maher, M. A. (2005). The evolving meaning and influence of cohort membership. Innovative Higher Education, 30(3), 195–211. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-005-6304-5

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning as a social system. The Systems Thinker, 9(5), 1-5.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R. A., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Harvard Business School Press.

Wentzel, K. R. (1999). Social-motivational processes and interpersonal relationships: Implications for understanding motivation at school. Journal of educational psychology, 91(1), 76.

Published
2021-07-30
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. https://doi.org/10.5195/ie.2021.187
Section
Themed - Online EdD