This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Factors that Successful and Unsuccessful Community College Students Perceive as Fostering and Hindering their Success in Online Learning




Wise, Amy

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The purpose of this study was to determine perceptions of community college students at a rural community college in Southeast Alabama, to identify the barriers they faced in being successful, and the strategies they recommended to improve the online learning program. The study also examined the extent to which differences existed between successful students and unsuccessful students regarding the barriers they faced in online learning. The overall population for this study consisted of 491 community college students who were enrolled in community college’s distance learning and traditional classroom programs during any of the academic terms of calendar year 2012–2014. The population consisted of two groups of students: those who were successful in online and regular classes and those who were successful in regular classes, but unsuccessful in online classes. The case study, conducted at a community college in Alabama, used a mixed methods design to gather quantitative and qualitative data. It was concluded that, overall, distance learning students experienced a high level of student satisfaction in regards to online courses. Four themes emerged from the analysis and were identified as Instructional Strategies, Interaction and Communication, Personal Issues and Technology. Categories within these themes were also identified. This study found differences between the general population of online students and unsuccessful students. Implications and recommendations addressed an organized orientation program, expanded quality control and professional development initiatives. Recommendations for future research were also offered.