STUDENT SUCCESS AT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE: EXPLORING THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL, COGNITIVE, AND TEACHING PRESENCE ON BIOLOGY STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF CLASSROOM COMMUNITY
Johns Hopkins University
The purpose of this dissertation study was to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of learning activities designed to increase student interaction and collaboration with both their peers and their instructor in online and hybrid community college biology courses. These activities included video-based student discussions, video-based instructor feedback, and a text-based discussion framed by the practical inquiry model (PIM; Garrison et al., 2000). The study utilized a convergent, mixed-methods case study design (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2018). Four instructors implemented the learning activities and 26 student participants engaged in the learning activities and reported their experiences and changes in perceptions of presence and community as a result of the activities. Quantitative data were collected from participation counts from the instructors’ field notes and the course learning management system, and survey results from the modified Community of Inquiry survey (Arbaugh et al., 2008; Damm, 2016) and the Classroom Community Scale (Rovai, 2002) and analyzed using descriptive and comparative statistics. Qualitative data were collected from the instructors’ field notes, instructor and student interview transcripts, and content from the PIM-framed text-based discussion posts. Conventional content analysis (cf. Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) and thematic analysis (cf. Braun & Clarke, 2006) were used to analyze the field notes and transcript data, and students’ text-based discussions posts were analyzed using a directed content analysis approach (cf. Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). The outcomes of this study are encouraging and suggest that the implementation of specific learning activities designed to promote student perceptions of social, cognitive, and teaching presence also positively influences student perceptions of classroom community by increasing the number of interactions between students and their peers, as well as the meaningfulness of these interactions. This dissertation adds to the existing body of knowledge related to factors influencing community college student success in STEM as it explores the noncognitive student factors that promote student success despite the assortment of challenges these students face during their educational journey toward higher social status. These findings may guide educators and administrators toward further exploration of learning activities that foster the noncognitive skills associated with academic success.
Community College, STEM, Social Presence, Cognitive Presence, Teaching Presence, Sense of Community