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Students' Perceptions of Learning about Qualitative Inquiry in Online Contexts

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American Journal of Distance Education Volume 32, Number 3, ISSN 0892-3647


This paper reports findings from a 2-year study of online coursework in a graduate certificate program in qualitative research methods in the USA. Thirty-four interviews with students enrolled in coursework offered over a 2-year period were analyzed to explore their perceptions of engagement with the course content and one another. Findings are related to student perceptions of their learning to (1) value the course design and structure, (2) make authentic connections in the absence of physical proximity, and (3) appreciate feedback from others. These themes are considered in light of principles of qualitative pedagogy outlined by scholars of qualitative methods, and the community of inquiry (CoI) model, in which social, cognitive, and teacher presence support student learning. Findings provide insight into the processes by which students' engagement with course content and interactions with instructor and peers contribute to the development of a CoI involving cognitive, social, and teacher presence. Although the learning context described in this study pertains to teaching graduate-level qualitative research methods, findings are relevant to teachers of other subject areas.


Roulston, K., Pope, E., Paulus, T. & deMarrais, K. (2018). Students' Perceptions of Learning about Qualitative Inquiry in Online Contexts. American Journal of Distance Education, 32(3), 190-201. Retrieved June 19, 2019 from .

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