Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Kevin DePew

Committee Member

Julie Romberger

Committee Member

Staci Defibaugh

Committee Member

Scott Warnock


From the 2013 Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices for Online Writing Instruction (OWI), OWI Principle 11 suggests, “Online writing teachers and their institutions should develop personalized and interpersonal online communities to foster student success.” Previous discussions of synchronous modalities have suggested interpersonal benefits of this mode could aid in creating these communities and could minimize the isolation and transactional distance students can experience in asynchronous instruction, which in turn can impact their persistence and learning. However, with little research on this modality, it is difficult to corroborate this assumption or design synchronous courses to best exploit these potential benefits. This study examined a particular type of synchronous online writing course, synchronous video courses (SVCs), exploring how and why students participated and interacted in certain ways in these courses and how their experiences influenced their sense of community and learning. A triangulated methodology of discourse analysis of class interactions and thematic analysis of interviews with students and instructors from the observed courses was used to present the prevalent discourse patterns within these courses and to contextualize these patterns within students’ and instructors’ experiences. Challenges for verbal interaction, the role of textual interaction, the value of small group interaction, and the impact of interfaces on learning emerged as key findings to understand this modality. The findings suggest there is value in this instructional modality, but it requires unique pedagogical strategies and specific training for students and instructors.


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