Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Nancy Walters


Low student engagement and high attrition rates in online classes were observed at community colleges in a Western U.S. state. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore online faculty members’ perceptions of student engagement and how they described their teaching practices and experiences. The study was grounded in the community of inquiry, a collaborative and constructivist model, which posits that social, cognitive, and teaching presences are critical to engagement and online learning. Data were collected from 10 online faculty members who provided responses to an online qualitative survey. Data analysis involved coding by hand in several stages to identify emerging themes. Findings revealed that faculty members valued and promoted student engagement. However, the faculty did not foster learning communities or provide specific information about teaching strategies. Although faculty members’ home institutions offered support, they did not offer a formal training program or online faculty development program. This study included a position paper supporting the implementation of an online faculty development program that would contribute to positive social change through higher levels of engagement among faculty and students, improved learning outcomes, and higher completion rates in online classes.