Dissertation

Online Teaching Strategies and Best Practices from the Perspectives of Effective Community College Online Instructors: A Phenomenological Study

This phenomenological research examined the perceptions of eleven online instructors at one community college regarding their experiences teaching online courses. the instructors were invited to participate because their students’ academic course outcomes matched or exceeded the student academic outcomes of the same courses taught in a face-to-face environment. Though prior academic research has evaluated best practices for teaching online, few have focused on the experiences of online instructors in the community college. Study participants were engaged in one-on-one interviews, which were the primary tools of data collection. Data was analyzed using phenomenological methods after which six themes emerged: (a) the time commitment for teaching online versus teaching face-to-face is greater; (b) it is important to use high quality course content, and there are challenges to do so; (c) online instructors should possess a passion for teaching, learning, and technology; (d) institutional decisions and culture affect online teaching; (e) students should possess intrinsic motivation to succeed in online courses but may face equity challenges that are amplified online; and (f) instructors should create an environment of inclusion and community and skillfully incorporate meaningful discussion boards. This study made recommendations based on the findings to help inform future policies and practices regarding online teaching and learning in higher education.

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