Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Thomas Hadley


Distance learning students at a community college in the southeast United States were not completing their coursework as well as were students enrolled in traditional courses. This disparity was negatively affecting the institution's state performance measures, putting at risk the institution's state-based funding under the state's performance model. The purpose of this qualitative, bounded case study was to explore faculty experiences with online course professional development and faculty's teaching practices related to successful student online course completion. Chickering and Gamson's 'Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education' served as the study's conceptual foundation. Distance learning faculty (n = 10), who taught online courses for at least 10 years, and students (n = 7) who had completed at least a single online class, volunteered to participate in semi-structured interviews. Observations of online courses taught by faculty participants were also conducted. The data collected were analyzed using thematic analysis and data were open coded to determine categories and emerging themes. The results of the data analysis identified 4 key themes: preparing faculty to teach online, engaging students in the online classroom, course design and delivery, and supporting and advising students. Based on the findings, a training course was designed to assist faculty in learning to engage, advise, and provide better support services to students in the online classroom. These endeavors may contribute to social change by providing faculty training and support to improve completions rates for community college students in online courses.