Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Laurel L. Walsh


The problem addressed in this study is low student success in online high-impact courses. Researchers have shown that instructor-initiated communication contributes to student satisfaction and success. The purpose of this study was to determine any relationship between instructor-initiated communication and student pass rates in online high-impact courses offered at a community college in the United States. The Community of Inquiry (CoI), which identifies teacher, social, and cognitive guidelines supporting learning experiences for students, was the theoretical foundation of the study. The research question was designed to explore relationships among the percentage of students passing a course with an A, B, or C and instructor-initiated communication as measured by the Teaching Presence instrument developed from CoI. Data from announcements, content, and email in 87 sections of online high-impact classes were analyzed using correlation and multiple regression. Success at the course level was the outcome variable. Predictor variables were ratings for instructor-initiated communication that correspond to teaching presence indicators. Results of descriptive analyses indicated that many instructors did not comply with the communication expectations at the college. The multiple linear regression yielded no statistically significant findings for communication variables, but results of Pearson’s correlation coefficient indicated that both relevance and communication correlated with student success. A research-based professional development program was created based on the findings. Efforts towards improving the performance of instructors and students in online courses may lead to positive social change by enhancing student degree completion and increasing degree-holding citizens in the community; accountability personnel would welcome the efforts to improve.