Desired and Experienced Levels of Connectivity to an Asynchronous, Online, Distance Degree Program

Shawnda Schroeder, Mary Baker, Katherine Terras, Patti Mahar, Karl Chiasson


This study examined graduate students’ desired and experienced levels of connectivity in an online, asynchronous distance degree program. Graduate students enrolled in the Masters of Science in Special Education distance degree program at a Midwest university were surveyed on both desired and experienced connectivity to their program, students, instructors, and advisors. Overall, student’s desired and experienced high connectivity to the program, their advisors, and their instructors; experiencing and wanting less connectivity to their fellow students. Specifically, three significant findings were noted: (1) students wanted high connectivity overall, with greatest connectivity desired with advisors and less connectivity wanted with other students; (2) there was variation among age cohorts and wanted connectivity with peers, advisors, instructors, and the program with statistically significant differences with regard to instructors, and other students; and (3) students experienced high connectivity. The relationships between graduate online learners and their instructors and advisors were correlated with the level of connectivity students experienced with their program. It was not as important to foster high connectivity among peers in the online learning environment. Further study should compare desired and wanted connectivity between departments, and across other universities to determine variables that may influence connectivity, and to identify best practices.


Online learning, student connectivity, connectedness, social presence

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