Students' Perceptions of Learner-Learner Interactions that Weaken a Sense of Community in an Online Learning Environment

Krystle Phirangee


Despite the growth of its popularity in recent years, online learning has demonstrated high dropout rates compared to dropout rates in traditional face-to-face courses. Prior research attributes attrition to the physical isolation of students from one another and the lack of interaction between and among them—factors which foster feelings of alienation, isolation, and disconnection. The goal of this research study was to more deeply understand the causes of such negative feelings, which may eventually lead students to drop out of online courses. More specifically, this study adopted a qualitative approach by interviewing six graduate students to further explore which specific learner-learner interactions weaken online students’ sense of community. Seven learner-learner, interactions were identified: the keener, lack of meaningful data, selective listening, lack of attribution, going off on tangents, editing notes, and cultural exclusion.


Online learning, learner-learner interaction, dropout/retention

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