The Experience of Online Sense of Community of Students and How it Affects their Decision to Withdraw from Online Education

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Bonilla Murillo, Enrique
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Higher education leaders align their goals to meet accreditation requirements to achieve a level of quality for their programs. Educational leaders are also committed to expanding their education services and offering an education according to students' preferences and needs. Leaders have attempted to achieve these goals with the integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs); however, the diversity of the student population in terms of personal and academic characteristics and interests reduces universities' possibilities of using ICT resources effectively. The purpose of this study was to explore the characteristics of online communication that contributed to the sense of community perceived by online students and how their experience affected their decision to leave online education. I conducted a qualitative phenomenological study to explore the issue through a purposeful sampling strategy using snowball sampling. I conducted in-depth interviews to collect data. I transcribed and hand coded data in general meaning codes, selecting the units of meaning relevant to the search topic. The emergent themes from the analysis were student engagement and perception about online internal and external communication tools; student sense of community experience and the withdrawal related factors. Educational leaders could use findings from the research to impact course and instructional designers, and faculty to understand how online students perceived a sense of community and how student perceptions of online education will affect their decision to leave their education.
online education , online student withdrawals , sense of community , online education experience
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