[Summary from: Merlot's Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 2011]
The purpose of this study was to examine correlates of both online classroom community and student engagement in online learning, as well as to compare community and engagement across disciplines in higher education. Participants (n=1,410) in online courses across five colleges and in both graduate and undergraduate courses were asked to complete an online survey. The survey consisted of 23 items measuring community and engagement as well as an additional six demographic items. Factor analysis yielded the following three factors accounting for approximately 58% of the total variance: classroom community with instructors (eight items), classroom community with classmates (eight items), and engagement in learning (seven items).
Discipline differences were found when examining the three factors across the colleges. Students taking courses in the College of Education reported significantly stronger feelings of community with instructors and classmates compared to all other colleges; students taking courses in the College of Health Sciences reported significantly stronger feelings of community with classmates compared to students in Business and Arts and Sciences courses. Also, students in Education and Health Science courses reported significantly stronger engagement compared to students in Arts and Sciences courses.
Young, Suzanne and Bruce, Mary Alice (2011). Classroom community and student engagement in online learning courses. Merlot’s Journal of Online Learning and Teaching.