Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Lorraine Miller Nara


Public education in the United States has experienced an increase in distance-learning (DL) opportunities. Because research has focused on student achievement in post-secondary DL programs, little is known about secondary students' experiences. The purpose of the current study was to explore DL applicability within secondary education. Specific research questions addressed by the concurrent mixed methods nested study included examining students' opinions and experiences in a secondary DL course and determining whether individual learning styles were addressed. Structured interviews, group discussions, and a survey were used to gather data over 2 months from 14 students in grades 9 through 12 participating in a state wide Alabama DL program. Surveys were used to assess and match DL activities to Gardner's 8 learning styles. Interviews and discussions explored students' opinions about activities and components and perceptions of their academic achievement. Quantitative data indicated that students reported some activities related to all learning styles with the greatest coverage observed for linguistic methods. Qualitative data were open and axial coded within each research question and the coded data was analyzed to define common DL practices used to meet specific styles and emergent themes related to student perceptions. Triangulation of results showed DL students felt successful based on their participation in a spectrum of activities including interactive video, e-mail, online discussion boards and tutoring sessions, and self-directed learning. The study contributes to positive social change by documenting a variety of strategies employed to successfully engage secondary DL students who present a variety learning styles and challenges related to DL curricular content and modes of delivery.