Date of Award

Summer 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Loretta Ulmer

Committee Member

Dana Burnett


The recent rapid proliferation of distance education necessitates the need for strong levels of academic accountability. An important factor found to influence and predict student success is students' perceptions of their online courses. Understanding how learners perceive their online learning environment is paramount to effective course design and implementation. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate community college students' perceptions of online education.

IHEP benchmarks for quality in distance education were used develop a web-based survey designed to measure if students' perceptions of online course quality differed across academic disciplines, what factors impacted students' perceptions of online course quality in regards to benchmarks for Teaching/Learning, Course Structure, and Student Support, and the level of impact of student demographics on perceptions of quality in online courses. No significant differences between groups were found to exist. Results showed that none of the factors investigated in this study, such as academic discipline, age, enrollment status, or previous exposure to college level online coursework, were found to have any effect on students' perceptions of quality in online courses when compared between groups. These findings will provide valuable information to both online instructors and administrators in providing quality online education.


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