Online Master's Students Perceptions of Institutional Supports and Resources: Initial Survey Results

Natalie B. Milman, Laurie Posey, Christine Pintz, Kayla Wright, Pearl Zhou


This article presents the quantitative findings of an exploratory mixed methods study that investigated first- and second-year online graduate master’s students’: 1) perceptions of the importance of, and satisfaction with, administrative, academic, technical, and online community supports; 2) personal factors and grit level; and 3) differences, if any, that existed among students, in these areas. Findings showed that a large majority of students rated course-level supports (e.g., instructor support, embedded help, library) as important, in contrast to supports that might be needed on rare occasions (e.g., career services, bookstore) or by fewer students (e.g., veteran and international student services, writing center). Data stratification revealed differences between white and non-white students for career and counseling services, which white students rated “unimportant” and non-white students rated “very important.” Differences in students’ perception of importance and satisfaction with some services highlighted instructor and technical support as areas of focus for potential improvements. The study raises several questions important to online graduate education, such as: which supports and resources should be offered by institutions of higher education to promote success in online learning for online master’s graduate students? Are there strategies that need to be developed to better address the individual needs of a diverse student body, including nontraditional students and underrepresented minorities?


online, graduate, master's, distance education, higher education, grit, satisfaction

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