Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Julie Frese


Online community college instructors’ failure to effectively utilize asynchronous discussion boards negatively impacts student course outcomes. However, it is unclear exactly what practices instructors use in their discussion boards. The purpose of this qualitative content analysis study was to investigate community college instructors’ practices on their discussion boards. The community of inquiry’s (CoI) constructs framed the research questions of the social, cognitive, and teaching presences observed in online instructor comments. Data were the discussion boards posts of four online associate to baccalaureate degree nursing instructors from a southeastern United States community college. Data were inductively analyzed using open and a priori coding and categorized according to patterns. The inductive subcategories and categories were then compared to the CoI constructs to form themes. The findings indicated most instructors displayed the social presence subcategories of self-disclosure, showing emotions, complimenting, and using vocatives. The teaching presence CoI subcategories observed were establishing time parameters, effective use of the medium, reinforcing student contributions, and confirming understanding. Three of the four instructors showed little or no evidence of cognitive subcategories in their discussion postings. Recommendations include using the CoI subcategories for guiding instructor practices and administrators’ professional development decisions. The results of this study may support positive social change possibilities by providing instructors and administrators with guidelines for strengthening asynchronous online discussion practices.