Date of Conferral

1-1-2009

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Dr. Bernice Folz

Abstract

Hispanic students are enrolling in community colleges at an increasing rate, and they do not succeed in community college online courses at a rate comparable to Caucasian students. Increasing Hispanic success in online education could potentially enhance their socioeconomic status. Drawing from the theoretical frameworks of andragogy and constructivism, the purpose of this case study was to examine differences between Hispanic and Caucasian students in online learning and identify factors that might contribute to the reported differences in success across Hispanic and Caucasian online students. Research questions contrasted the impact of course design, Internet access, learning preferences, and motivation on successful online learning across Hispanic and Caucasian students. A proportional stratified sample of 324 community college students completed a researcher-developed survey, and 20 participated in semistructured interviews. Data analyses sequentially addressed each research question by integrating tabular and frequency analyses of survey data with themes that emerged from interviews. Regarding course design, Hispanic students, more than Caucasians, preferred group work and visual design elements; whereas, both groups felt that a logical course design was a key factor in accessing information and that regular instructor contact was important. Internet-use comfort levels were similar and positively affected performance for both groups. Reported motivation to enroll in online courses was also similar across groups and included scheduling, convenience, and pace of learning. This study can contribute to social change by clarifying an understanding of specific online learning factors that are critical for academic success among Hispanic students, which can in turn provide a foundation for improved socioeconomic success and equity.