“Simplicity is Key”: Literacy Graduate Students’ Perceptions of Online Learning

Ann Van Wig, Shuling Yang, Chelsey Bahlmann Bollinger, Xiufang Chen, Tala Karkar Esperat, Kathryn Pole, Nance Wilson


Even before COVID-19, literacy graduate coursework was increasingly offered online, replacing the traditional campus-based courses This study investigated how graduate literacy students perceive coursework in an online learning environment. This understanding is important because (a) student perceptions regarding online learning are critical to motivation and learning; and (b) faculty designing courses need to consider student voice in course development. This survey research queried literacy master’s degree candidates their perceptions prior to and after taking online classes, their confidence levels using technology, and about the technological tools that have impacted their learning. Results indicated initial perceptions of online learning changed positively after engagement in coursework, but course design influenced collaboration and engagement. Statistical significance was found in changes in initial perceptions of online learning to a more positive overall feelings toward online learning. The results of this study raise important considerations for implementing online coursework for literacy graduate students.


graduate, technology, student perceptions, online education, literacy

Full Text:



Akyol, Z., Arbaugh, J. B., Cleveland-Innes, M., Garrison, D. R., Ice, P., Richardson, J. C., & Swan, K. (2009). A response to the review of the community of inquiry framework. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education/Revue Internationale du e-learning et la Formation à Distance, 23(2), 123-136.

Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5(20), 1–17.

Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2), 117-148.

Beck, V. S. (2010). Comparing online and face-to-face teaching and learning. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 21(3), 95-108.

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. M. (2016). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. John Wiley & Sons.

Cottone, R. R. (2001). A social constructivism model of ethical decision making in counseling. Journal of Counseling & Development, 79(1), 39-45.

Coffey, A., & Atkinson, P. (1996). Making sense of qualitative data: Complementary research strategies. Sage Publications, Inc.

College of DuPage & Creative Commons. (n.d.). An introduction to hybrid teaching: Learning technologies. Retrieved September 9, 2020 from https://www.codlearningtech.org/PDF/hybridteachingworkbook.pdf

Cox, B., & Cox, B. (2008). Developing interpersonal and group dynamics through asynchronous threaded discussions: The use of discussion board in collaborative learning. Education, 128(4), 553-565.

Crawford-Ferre, H. G., & Wiest, L. R. (2012). Effective online instruction in higher education. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(1), 11-14.

Creswell, J. W. (1994). Research design: Qualitative and quantitative approach. Sage Publications.

The Education Hub. (n.d.). 6 strategies for promoting student self-efficacy in your teaching. https://www.theeducationhub.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/6-strategies-for-promoting-student-self-efficacy.pdf

Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. (2013). Removing obstacles to the pedagogical changes required by Jonassen's vision of authentic technology-enabled learning. Computers & Education, 64, 175-182.

Fedynich, L., Bradley, K. S., & Bradley, J. (2015). Graduate students' perceptions of online learning. Research in Higher Education Journal, 27, 1-13.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-Learning in the 21st century: A community of inquiry framework for research and practice (3rd Ed.). Routledge/Taylor and Francis.

Graziano, K. J., & Feher, L. (2016). A dual placement approach to online student teaching. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 16(4), 495-513.

Gurung, B., & Rutledge, D. (2014). Digital learners and the overlapping of their personal and educational digital engagement. Computers & Education, 77, 91-100.

Harris, H. S., & Martin, E. W. (2012). Student motivations for choosing online classes. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(2), 1-8.

Hemschik, T. (2009). Course designs, instructional strategies, and support systems in K-8 online education: A case study. Dissertation retrieved from Google Scholar.

Jackson, B. L., & Jones, W. M. (2019). Where the rubber meets the road: Exploring the perceptions of in-service teachers in a virtual field experience. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 51(1), 7-26.

Kennedy, K., & Archambault, L. (2012). Offering preservice teachers field experiences in K-12 online learning: A national survey of teacher education programs. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(3), 185-200.

Kentnor, H. E. (2015). Distance education and the evolution of online learning in the United States. Curriculum and teaching dialogue, 17(1), 21-34.

Martin, A. (2006). A European framework for digital literacy. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 1(02), 151-161.

McInnerney, J. M., & Roberts, T. S. (2004). Online learning: Social interaction and the creation of a sense of community. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 7(3), 73-81.

Miller, A., Topper, A. M., & Richardson, S. (2017). Suggestions for improving IPEDS distance education data collection. https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/pdf/NPEC/data/NPEC_Paper_IPEDS_Distance_Education_2017.pdf

Nagel, L., Blignaut, A. S., & Cronjé, J. C. (2009). Read-only participants: A case for student communication in online classes. Interactive Learning Environments, 17(1), 37-51.

National Education Association. (2008). Technology in schools: The ongoing challenge of access, adequacy, and equity. Policy Brief # 19. Washington DC: NEA Policy and Practice Department.

Peechapol, C., Na-Songkhla, J., Sujiva, S., & Luangsodsai, A. (2018). An exploration of factors influencing self-efficacy in online learning: A systematic review. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET), 13(9), 64-86.

Picciano, A. & Seaman, J. (2009). K-12 online learning: A 2008 follow-up of the survey of U.S. school district administrators. Sloan Consortium.

Prior, D. D., Mazanov, J., Meacheam, D., Heaslip, G., & Hanson, J. (2016). Attitude, digital literacy and self-efficacy: Flow-on effects for online learning behavior. Internet and Higher Education, 29, 91-97.

Sher, A. (2009). Assessing the relationship of student-instructor and student-student interaction to student learning and satisfaction in web-based online learning environment. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 8(2), 102-120.

Simpson, M. (2006). Field experience in distance delivered initial teacher education programmes. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 14(2), 241-254.

Supiano, B. (2020, April 30). Why you shouldn’t try to replicate your classroom teaching online. https://www.chronicle.com/newsletter/teaching/2020-04-30

Swaggerty, E. A., & Broemmel, A. D. (2017). Authenticity, relevance, and connectedness: Graduate students' learning preferences and experiences in an online reading education course. The Internet and Higher Education, 32, 80-86.

Tucker, P. D., & Stronge, J. H. (2005). Linking teacher evaluation and student learning. ASCD.

Waters, S., & Russell, W. (2016). Virtually ready? Pre-service teachers' perceptions of a virtual internship experience. Research in Social Sciences and Technology, 1(1), 1-23.

Will, M. (2020, March 16). Teachers share resources for teaching online during coronavirus school closures. Teaching Now, Education Week. https://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2020/03/teachers_sharing_resources_online_coronavirus.html

Wilson, L. (2016). Technology for technology’s sake is meaningless. https://www.k12blueprint.com/blog/leslie-wilson/technology-technologys-sake-meaningless

Young, A., & Norgard, C. (2006). Assessing the quality of online courses from the students' perspective. The Internet and Higher Education, 9(2), 107-115.

Yuan, J., & Kim, C. (2014). Guidelines for facilitating the development of learning communities in online courses. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(3), 220-232.

Zimmerman, B. J. (2010). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: An overview. Educational Psychologist, 25(1), 3–17.

Zweig, J., & Stafford, E. (2016). Training for online teachers to support student success: Themes from a survey administered to teachers in four online learning programs. Journal of Online Learning Research, 2(4), 399-418.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v26i1.2607

Copyright (c) 2022 Ann Van Wig, Shuling Yang, Chelsey Bahlmann Bollinger, Xiufang Chen, Tala Karkar Esperat, Kathryn Pole, Nance Wilson

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/