Community College Students Taking Online Courses: The Student Point-of-View

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Virginia Tech

This study is a qualitative examination of community college students' experiences taking on-line courses. The study addresses the research question, "How do community college students construct their on-line experiences?" In order to answer this question, the following foci were examined: What are the characteristics of students taking online courses?, Why are they taking on-line courses?, What are facilitative or debilitative dimensions or features that promote or inhibit success in on-line courses?, and, How does the community college infrastructure support students taking web-based courses?

The results of the study were grouped into 4 categories: Interpersonal Support, Student Characteristics, Course Issues, and Infrastructure Support. All but 2 of the findings of the PRCC Study are supported by research. The first factor not mentioned in the literature is that some students choose to take a course on-line if they are not interested in the content of the class. The second finding not implicated in the research is that electronic distractions of Instant Messaging™ and the lure of surfing the Web seem to be more debilitating than interruptions from other sources such as family and work.

Other implications of this study involve concerns that are common to both on-line and on-site instruction, as well as the connection between constructivism and on-line learning. Facilitative and debilitative dimensions or features that promote or inhibit success in on-line courses imply that faculty and institutions need to be adapting to the demands of teaching and learning on the Web. Implications of the Study examine improvements to the study and ideas for future research.

distance learning, online learning, online student characteristics, web-based learning, distance education, distance learning infrastructure support, web-based instruction, online instruction, community college