Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Felicia A. Blacher-Wilson


The recent economic downturn has increased demand for higher education. Because most postsecondary schools offer online courses, it is necessary to assess the effectiveness of those offerings and provide information that will assist colleges and universities in meeting citizens' educational needs. This qualitative case study was used to examine the learning experiences and perceptions of students in online courses at a university in the western United States. Moore's transactional distance learning theory was used to assess interactions among students, instructors, and course content. Purposive sampling was used to select 18 students from 3 university departments to participate in the study. Research questions focused on how participants perceived their learning experiences in online courses and how they described interactions with instructors and other students. Data collection was multimodal. The interviews were conducted in face-to-face format, electronic mail, and Skype. The questionnaires were completed by electronic mail. Field notes were collected during the interviews. Interview transcripts, field notes, and questionnaire data were coded against the 4 interaction factors identified from Moore's theory. Results showed that participants rated interaction with course material as most important, followed by interaction with the instructor. Next in importance was the character of the learner, followed by student-student interaction. This study contributes to social change by informing the efforts of postsecondary faculty and administrators to review and modify online course content. Doing so will ensure that the university is able to meet students' needs by generating timely, positive, and constructive, feedback; establishing a social communication network to foster student-student interaction; and creating a more student-friendly content material delivery method.