Posted: October 27th, 2022

A QUALITATIVE RESEARCH STUDY REPORT – DOCTORATE Level Writing ONLY I Need Help With Writing

 This can not have ANY plagarism, apa styled references… NOT written with pronouns, NO GIBBERISH and fluff writing.. Follow each template ENTIRELY!!  Double Check Everything.. Use ALL information — the rubric , template for paper–make sure you answer ALL questions within template, the template of research study document to read and analyze, & template of chart to make sure all things are included. 

USE THE STUDY REPORT TO COMPLETE ASSIGNMENT (Item 1)…. THIS Paper must be formatted exact (template 2) answering every part exact…    Rubric is included (item 3)..   How to Write this if you need additional help (item 4).

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1

PAGE

5

Quantitative Research Study Report

Insert Your Name Here

School of Education, Capella University

EDD8040: Research Design for Practitioners

Insert the Instructor’s Name Here

Insert the Assignment Due Date Here

Table of Contents

Page

Introduction

…………………………..………………..……………………………….………..3

Methodology

….……….…………………………………………………………………….…..X

Results

………..……….…………………………………………………………………….…..X

Discussion/Conclusion

.…………..……………………………………………………………..X

References

…..….……….……………………………………………………………………….X

INSTRUCTIONS

Delete all instructions, including these, when you have completed the paper. Delete the heading “INSTRUCTIONS” above but keep all other headings below.

Introduction

Summarize the research theory framework. List the research questions, the study’s purpose, and the variables that were studied. Describe how the study represents a quantitative design.

In addition, answer the following questions:

1.

 

 What were the key components of the research framework that supported the development of the research questions?

2.    What are your reflections on the connections between theoretical frameworks and research questions as they relate to developing an Applied Improvement Project (AIP)?

Methodology

Describe the study sample (number of participants, where they were studied, and their demographics), the study’s instruments, and the procedures used. Note how threats to validity and any legal or ethical issues were addressed, referring to the Creswell and Creswell text pp. 169-172.  

In addition, answer the following questions: 

3.    How were the data obtained by Kim for the purposes of this research?

 

Results

Include a comprehensive summary of the major findings of the study.

In addition, answer the following questions: 

 

4. From the findings, describe the answers to each of the four research questions.

 
Discussion/Conclusion

Describe how the study’s findings fit into the systems literature (the term systems literature refers to the related relevant literature presented in the study’s literature review), the strengths and limitations of the findings, and recommendations and implications for research and practice.

In addition, answer the following questions:

5. Choose one of the recommendations for further research and describe how an applied research project could be developed to address the issue being described.

References

Include a properly formatted list of references cited in this assignment.

1

PAGE

6

Qualitative Research Study Report

Insert Your Name Here

School of Education, Capella University

EDD8040: Research Design for Practitioners

Insert the Instructor’s Name Here

Insert the Assignment Due Date Here

Table of Contents

Page

Introduction

…………………………..………………..……………………………….………..3

Methodology

….……….…………………………………………………………………….…..X

Results

………..……….…………………………………………………………………….…..X

Discussion/Conclusion

.…………..……………………………………………………………..X

References

…..….……….……………………………………………………………………….X

INSTRUCTIONS

Delete all instructions, including these, when you have completed the paper. Delete the heading “INSTRUCTIONS” above but keep all other headings below.

Introduction

Summarize the research theory framework. List the research questions, the study’s purpose, and contextual factors that were studied. Describe how the study represents a qualitative design.

In addition, answer the following questions:

1.

 

What were the key components of the research theory framework that supported the development of the research questions?

Methodology

Describe the study sample (number of participants, where they were studied, and their demographics), how the data were collected and analyzed. Note how threats to validity (credibility, dependability, and transferability) and how ethical issues/considerations were addressed, referring to the Creswell and Creswell (2018) text (pages 199-202) and/or your CITI training.

In addition, answer the following questions:

2. In what ways did the recruitment strategies protect the privacy of the potential participants? How did they provide clear and accurate information regarding the study? How did they avoid exerting undue pressure or influence on the potential participants?

3. How were the data analyzed?

 

Results

Include a comprehensive summary of the major findings of the study.

In addition, answer the following questions: 

 

4. Describe how and to what degree did the themes of Time, Self-Directed, and Learning Tools help answer the main research questions?

Discussion/Conclusion

Describe how the study’s findings fit into the systems literature (the term systems literature refers to the related relevant literature presented in the study’s literature review), the strengths and limitations of the findings, and recommendations and implications for research and practice.

In addition, answer the following questions:

5. Based on the recommendations for further research, describe how an applied research project could be developed to address the issue being described. What intervention might be implemented for online instructors?

References

Include a properly formatted list of references cited in this assignment.

Qualitative Research Study Report Scoring Guide

Due Date: End of Unit 5
Percentage of Course Grade: 10%.

10%

Writing adheres to APA formatting rules and APA writing style.

CRITERIA

NON-PERFORMANCE

BASIC

PROFICIENT

DISTINGUISHED

Summarize the research-theory framework.
13%

Does not summarize the research-theory framework.

Partially summarizes the research-theory framework.

Summarizes the research-theory framework.

Summarizes the research-theory framework and analyzes how the study represents a quantitative design.

Answer each of the questions and prompts in the template.
15%

Does not answer each of the questions and prompts in the template.

Answers each of the questions and prompts in the template, though some answers are partial, unclear, or incorrect.

Answers each of the questions and prompts in the template.

Answers each of the questions and prompts in the template, and supports answers with reference to the literature.

Describe study methodology and study sample.
13%

Does not describe study methodology and study sample.

Describes study methodology and study sample, but lacks sufficient details and relevant information.

Describes study methodology and study sample.

Describes study methodology and study sample and analyzes validity as well as legal and ethical issues.

Provide summary of results and findings.
13%

Does not provide summary of results and findings.

Provides summary of results and findings but summary lacks sufficient detail and relevant information.

Provides summary of results and findings.

Provides comprehensive summary of results and findings.

Describe how the study findings fit into the systems literature.
13%

Does not describe how the study findings fit into the systems literature.

Describes how the study findings fit into the systems literature, but description lacks strong supporting evidence.

Describes how the study findings fit into the systems literature.

Describes how the study findings fit into the systems literature and analyzes the implications for research and practice.

Apply research findings to practice.
13%

Does not apply research findings to practice.

Applies research findings to practice but the discussion lacks in depth and completeness; there may be a misalignment.

Applies research findings to practice.

Applies research findings to practice and fully discusses the weaknesses and suggestions for future improvement and further research.

Communicate clearly, supporting a central idea in appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.
10%

Communication is unclear and does not support a central idea in appropriate format. Does not use correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.

Communicates clearly, supporting a central idea. Format is inconsistent and contains substantial errors of grammar, usage, and mechanics.

Communicates clearly, supporting a central idea in appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.

Communication is exemplary, using evidence to support a central idea in a consistently appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.

Writing adheres to APA formatting rules and APA writing style.

Writing does not adhere to APA formatting and APA writing style.

Writing reflects inconsistent use of APA formatting and APA writing style.

Writing is exemplary, exhibiting strict and nearly flawless adherence to APA formatting rules and APA writing style

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References
Bourdeaux, R., & Schoenack, L. (2016). Adult Student Expectations and Experiences in an Online Learning

Environment. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 64(3), 152–161. https://doi-
org.library.capella.edu/10.1080/07377363.2016.1229072

Adult Student Expectations and Experiences in an Online Learning Environment.
This study investigated adult student experiences with instructors in online classes. Using expectancy
violations theory as a lens, we conducted 22 interviews to understand reasons students enroll in online
classes, expectations for instructors, and behaviors instructors employed that may or may not meet
expectations. We conducted a thematic analysis and uncovered students expected clarity, respect, and
intentional course design from instructors. Behaviors facilitating effective communication and enabling
learning actually led to positive outcomes, while the poor use of pedagogical tools and behaviors
stopping the learning process led to negative outcomes. Recommendations to meet adult student needs
online are proposed.

Keywords: andragogy; expectancy violations theory; instructor behaviors; adult students; online learning
environments

Introduction
Colleges and universities continually address changes to their student body and the changing
technological landscape. Online and distance education remains a rapidly growing segment of learning
in higher education, with more than 95% of higher education entities with an enrollment of 5,000 or more
students offering online options (Allen & Seaman, [ 2]). In addition to the growth of online courses,
colleges and universities are seeing an increase in adult students entering the educational system
(Hussar & Bailey, [20]). According to Hussar and Bailey ([20]), between 1997 and 2011, higher
educational institutions experienced enrollment increases of 51% for those students who were 25 to
34 years old and increases of 26% for students who were 35 years and older. To proactively meet the
needs of these growing trends, higher education must understand more about both adult students and
courses offered online.

Online courses offer flexibility to adult students balancing extra responsibilities. Adult students
encounter many of the challenges traditional students face, but adult students also endure additional
stressors, such as full-time jobs and families (Choy, [10]; Forbus, Newbold, & Mehta, [13]; Haley &

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Booker, [17]; Park & Choi, [34]; Zembylas, [38]). The growing population of adult students may be more
amenable to enrolling in the rising number of online courses because distance courses may fit more
easily into a busy schedule. Unfortunately, adult learners who feel unsupported in an online class may
discontinue their enrollment in the course (Park & Choi, [34]), so a clear understanding of what adult
students expect in online courses is crucial.

This study seeks to identify what adult students expect in an online class, and what behaviors faculty
currently employ that may or may not be meeting expectations. First, adult students are defined to
identify specific needs of this growing segment of students. Second, online learning environments are
explored. Third, expectancy violations theory is discussed, as it will help us evaluate these phenomena.
Finally, the research questions are introduced.

Adult Students
Adult students continue to emerge at a growing rate on college and university campuses, so
understanding how to define characteristics of an adult learner helps institutions meet the needs of
these students. Adult students are typically over 24 years of age, employed and working full-time, and
oftentimes supporting dependents at home (Forbus et al., [13]). Other common characteristics that
define an adult student are financial independence, part-time pursuit of classes, delayed enrollment, and
possibly even lacking a diploma from high school (Choy, [10]). Adult learners also typically have more
stress regarding time management and juggling life roles than traditional students (Morris, Brooks, &
May, [29]).

This growing majority of students also creates challenges simply due to their unique lifestyles. Because
of barriers such as work and family commitments, adult students may become problematic for their
institution because of their interrupted enrollment status and their lack of accomplishing their degree
(Kasworm, [22]). Adult students also tend to crave more meaningful relationships with staff and more
interaction with instructors (Newbold, Mehta, & Forbus, [31]). As universities work to address adult
learners, administrators must address that this student segment has different expectations from those of
their traditional counterpart. Given the increasing enrollment of adult students, universities must place
emphasis on both reducing barriers and recognizing expectations of adult students. Since online
courses emerge as one way universities reduce barriers, the next section overviews online learning
environments.

Online Learning Environments
Online learning continues to rise in popularity on campuses around the globe because it capitalizes on a
medium that allows students to access learning outside of the traditional classroom (Johnson, Adams
Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, [21]). Online courses attract students because these classes are flexible
options that may remove some of the barriers to learning, such as time and distance (-Crawford-Ferre &
Wiest, [11]). Students regularly mention being busy, and online options for learning offer students the
flexibility to study whenever it best fits their schedules (Caruso, [ 9]). For busy adult students who may
be balancing a job, family responsibilities, and an education, online learning is much more convenient
than attending a physical class (Bishop, [ 5]). The flexibility of time proffered by online courses allows
adult students to juggle work and family while still pursuing a degree (Alexander, Perreault, Zhao, &
Waldman, [ 1]; Choy, [10]).

Online courses are growing in popularity on the higher education landscape; however, instructors of
online courses have yet to perfect effective online delivery of instruction (Sugar, Martindale, & Crawley,

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[36]). Online courses deviate from the standard face-to-face student-and-teacher interaction, and
instructors must now reevaluate their roles in the learning process, because although online learning
may force students to be more autonomous regarding the pursuit of knowledge, these students still
need direction (Baran, -Correia, & Thompson, [ 4]). Teaching strategies contribute to success in an
online class much more than just the convenience of the technology (O’Lawrence, [33]). Therefore,
institutions must remember the connection between a student and a teacher still remains the most
important factor leading to student success (Haley & Booker, [17]).

Although online courses continue to experience higher enrollments in higher education, completion
rates for these online courses were less than completion rates for traditional, face-to-face courses (Levy,
[25]). Instructors of online courses need to find ways to engage students in order to increase retention in
online courses (McLawhon & Cutright, [27]). However, in order to effectively engage students, online
instructors must understand what students expect in an online environment. The next section explains
expectancy violations theory, which provides a lens for understanding student expectations in this study.

Expectancy Violations Theory
Expectancy violations theory (EVT; Burgoon, [ 7]) examines expectations people embrace regarding
behaviors of other people during interpersonal interactions (Burgoon, Le Poire, & Rosenthal, [ 8]). EVT
allows inspection of awaited behavioral expectations while routinely evaluating individual behavior
based on the context (Burgoon et al., [ 8]). When interacting with others, people expect certain
behaviors because they possess preconceived notions regarding how others should behave (Frisby &
Sidelinger, [14]). Individuals evaluate and assess the behaviors during an interaction based on how
close the enacted behaviors match the preconceived notion (Burgoon et al., [ 8]).

When a person’s behavior exits the range of tolerable behavior during an interaction, a violation of
expectations occurs (McPherson, Kearney, & Plax, [28]). When individuals violate our behavioral
expectations, the behaviors evaluated positively generate a positive valuation of the interaction,
whereas behaviors interpreted negatively produce a negative assessment of the relations (Houser, [18]).
In addition, when a mismatch exists between expectations and behavior, the outcome will likely be much
less satisfying; yet when the behaviors match or exceed expectations, the outcome will likely be much
more satisfying and productive (Koermer & Petelle, [23]).

Because people have rules for expectations in their interpersonal relationships, it makes sense that
these rules transcend to both online and offline educational experiences between teachers and students
as well (Frisby & Sidelinger, [14]). In the educational setting, EVT has helped to evaluate topics such as
instructor credibility (Obermiller, Ruppert, & Atwood, [32]), instructor availability (Mottet, Parker-Raley,
Cunningham, Beebe, & Raffeld, [30]), teacher anger (McPherson et al., [28]), and student disclosure in
the classroom (Frisby & Sidelinger, [14]). EVT has also been helpful in evaluating differences between
the expectations of traditional versus adult student learners (Houser, [18], [19]).

Goals of the Study
Instructors would benefit from understanding what students expect in a class. To facilitate effective
learning, instructors should solicit and act upon the expectations of students (Houser, [18]). Adult
students expect clear instruction and useful feedback in a traditional educational environment (Houser,
[19]), but research must aim to specifically identify what adult students expect in an online environment
and what behaviors faculty enact related to those expectations. To further explore this, the following
research questions (RQ) are posed:

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RQ1: What expectations do adult students have of instructors in online courses?

RQ2: What behaviors have adult students experienced from an instructor in an online course that have
led to either positive or negative outcomes?

RQ3: What suggestions to better meet their needs do adult students have for online instructors?

Methods
To assist faculty and administrators in higher education with understanding what adult students expect
in an online environment, we wanted to talk directly to students to not only uncover their answers, but to
further explore the meaning behind each answer. For the purposes of this research, the criterion for an
adult student was simply defined as a student being over 24 years of age (Forbus et al., [13]). To
answer our three research questions, we recruited enrolled (either full-time or part-time) undergraduate
students, 24 years or older, that had taken at least one recent online course, and we interviewed the
recruited students utilizing qualitative, semi-structured interviews. Twenty-two interviews (N = 22) were
conducted from July 2013 through March 2014.

Data Collection
Participants were recruited from two different institutions of higher education. All participants were adult,
undergraduate students over 24 years of age who were enrolled at either a midsized Midwestern
university or a private, religious liberal arts college located in the Midwest. Because students were
recruited at two different institutions, the researchers received institutional review board (IRB) approval
from both institutions to recruit participants for the study.

Potential subjects were asked to participate in a 30- to 45-minute interview about their experience in an
online learning environment via recruitment e-mails and recruitment posts on social media. All students
received the same recruitment message that solicited enrolled undergraduate students, 24 years or
older, who had taken at least one online course to participate in the research. The students were first
recruited via customized e-mail lists that were created at each institution to reach any undergraduate
student who had previously been enrolled in an online class. The students were also recruited at the
midsized Midwestern university through a second e-mail list to a dedicated research pool of
undergraduate students (both traditional and adult) enrolled in an introductory communication course.
Finally, the researchers also posted the study recruitment on personal social media sites. Interested
individuals were asked to contact the researchers to sign up for an interview time if they were willing to
participate. Those interested individuals who contacted the researchers via e-mail and met the
recruitment criteria were interviewed for the study.

Participants
After recruitment of participants, there were only 22 students that contacted the researchers via e-mail,
met the recruitment criteria, and were interviewed for the study. Of the 22 students, eight were female
(36.4%) and 14 were male (63.6%), which is in line with the demographics of the larger university.
Student ages were broken down as follows: 13 students were 24 to 30 years old (59.1%), five students
were 31 to 40 years old (22.7%), two students were 41 to 50 years old (9.1%), and two students were
51 to 60 years old (9.1%). Fifteen participants identified themselves as Caucasian (68.2%), four
identified as African-American (18.2%), two identified as Asian (9.1%), and one identified as Somali
(4.5%), which is in line with the overall demographics of both universities. Because students were
recruited from two different universities with both traditional degree programs and degree completion
programs, we asked students to self-identify their personal progress toward their degree completion:

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two were first-year students (9.1%), five were sophomores (22.7%), four were juniors (18.2%), and 11
were seniors (50.0%).

Interviews
Interviews were conducted with one researcher and one participant in a private room at one of the two
universities or via Skype using a semi-structured protocol. A semi-structured protocol allows for the
flexibility of second or follow-up questions where the researcher asks for clarification of the subject’s
answers related to the research questions (Kvale, [24]). Each participant answered questions and the
follow-up questions regarding their most recent completed online undergraduate course that was offered
entirely online through either Blackboard or Jenzabar. We first asked students to talk about the online
class and reasons for taking an online class with questions such as “What was your most recent online
class?” and “What are some reasons you took an online class in the past?” The online courses the
students referenced covered many areas across the curriculum such as literature, public speaking,
chemistry, history, and medical terminology, and all courses were undergraduate courses that enrolled
both traditional and adult students.

Other questions on the semi-structured protocol were related to student expectations and perceptions of
faculty behaviors in an online educational class environment. For example, open-ended questions
included “How do you expect faculty in an online class to communicate regarding the course
expectations?” and “Are there things your instructors have done in an online class that you believe have
worked well?” We also asked students for suggestions to make online learning better with questions
such as “If you were teaching an online class, what would you do different and why?” and “If you could
share ideas with faculty when it comes to creating the most effective online class environment, what
advice would you want to share?” The interviews averaged 23 minutes, ranging from 13 minutes to
46 minutes. The interviews were transcribed after they were completed. Students were assigned
pseudonyms in transcripts and in the final written document. Recorded interviews yielded 148 pages of
typed, single-spaced data.

Data Analysis
The data analysis process allowed for a comprehensive analysis of the data. First, each researcher read
through all of the transcripts to gather a comprehensive awareness of data from the interviews. Using
some of the principles of the grounded theory approach to data analysis (Glaser & Strauss, [16]), the
researchers began to analyze the data by using open coding. Open coding occurs when “data are
broken down into discrete parts, closely examined, and compared for similarities and differences”
(Strauss & Corbin, [35], p. 102). The researchers worked together to complete open coding of two
transcripts by analyzing the transcripts line by line to look for key ideas emerging from words and
phrases (Strauss & Corbin, [35]).

The two researchers then moved to independent coding. The researchers split up the remaining
transcripts and independently completed open coding. Previous transcripts were reviewed to apply the
principle of constant comparison whenever a new code surfaced (Glaser & Strauss, [16]). The constant
reviewing of previous codes allowed the researchers to validate previous work (Manning & Kunkel, [26]).
Next, the researchers did a reliability check by reviewing all of the transcripts coded by the other
researcher. This transcription checking allowed the researchers to ensure there were strong code
memos and that there was no definitional drift in coding (Gibbs, [15]).

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Finally, the researchers moved to axial coding (Strauss & Corbin, [35]). The researchers used axial
coding to identify the relationships between the open codes (Gibbs, [15]). The relationships, or themes,
further explain a concept that surfaces from the participants’ own words describing the participants’ lived
experiences (Gibbs, [15]). The researchers met weekly during axial coding of all transcripts to review
and discuss the development of themes. The researchers then validated themes by finding evidence in
the form of participant quotations to support each theme (Gibbs, [15]).

Results
The data from the interviews provided insight into adult learners in the online learning environment.
During data analysis, we uncovered themes explaining why adult students select online classes, what
they expect instructors to do in an online environment, what led to satisfaction or dissatisfaction with
online courses, and suggestions to make online learning environments better for future learners. The
Results section demonstrates pertinent themes, in addition to sharing demonstrative quotes from the
participants. We begin with the advantages adult students encounter with online learning.

Advantages to Online Courses
The first area where themes illuminate our understanding of online learning is in regards to advantages
to online learning. The interviews with the adult students began by asking each individual to talk about
their most recent online course and then elaborate about advantages of taking an online course. The
students shared stories that pointed to three main themes for the advantages of taking an online class:
Time, Self-Directed, and Learning Tools.

The Time theme points to items that allow students flexibility and control over scheduling their
education. The Time theme encompasses items that have to do with schedules such as fitting personal
or work schedules, and this theme appeared in 73 of the 2,719 coded segments from the transcripts.
The notion of a personal schedule appears in 28 of those 73 Time-themed segments, and is best
demonstrated by Donna, a 30-year-old sophomore, who said, “Advantages: you don’t have a set
schedule, you can do it at midnight if you want, or whenever.” Comments in the Time theme showed
repeatedly that adult students appreciate the schedule flexibility offered by online courses.

The second theme, Self-Directed, identifies the ways that the online environment delivers education in a
way that allows students to be personally responsible for their learning. The Self-Directed theme,
appearing in 55 of the 2,719 coded segments, covers items such as working ahead on assignments and
accomplishing educational tasks due to personal drive. Carmen, a 30-year-old senior, mentioned that
“online classes are generally looked at as a ‘on your own pace’ because you don’t have that structure.”
This quote demonstrates an appreciation for self-direction.

Finally, the Learning Tools theme emerged to describe that students signed up for online courses
because the courses used pedagogical tactics they enjoyed. Students discussed strategies used by
faculty that they considered to be effective in the Learning Tools theme, and the theme appeared in 21
of the 2,719 coded segments. Erica, a 25-year-old junior, enjoyed the online discussion boards, and
stated, “I like reading discussion postings because I feel like I get more out of the reading. Like, I’ll read
those first, and then I’ll go do the reading, and I’ll understand it a lot more.” These three themes
demonstrated why students enrolled in online courses. Next we explore what students expect from
instructors once they are enrolled in an online course.

Expected Online Instructor Behaviors

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The interview questions also asked students to explain what behaviors they expected from faculty in
regards to communicating about things such as course expectations, assignments and deadlines, and
class participation. The interviewed participants described the behaviors that students expect from
instructors when enrolled in an online class. The students explained examples that fell into one of three
major thematic areas: Clarity, Respect, and Intentional Design.

The Clarity theme encompasses all statements that hinted at students wanting simple, concise, and
unambiguous instructions for the online class. Clear expectations, step-by-step instructions, and
detailed syllabi were mentioned in this thematic area, and Clarity was mentioned in 48 of the 2,719
coded segments. Carl, a 38-year-old senior, had clear expectations in multiple ways:

At the very least, I would expect that they would, they would have a clear-cut communication either in e-
mail form, a post, maybe an introduction within the syllabus for the course, or the best, I guess, the best
practice would be a prerecorded lecture or something, just giving their actual verbal words, their actual
words as to what is going to be expected of you throughout the course.

Although Carl expected clarification in multiple ways, Joe, a 42-year-old senior, simply said the
following:

Step-by-step it out because it has to almost be like that because if you are not face-to-face you don’t
have an option to explain or to really ask questions or to get the real gist of it. It has to be very simple,
clear, and defined—what the goals are and the understandings of what you need to do each week.

The students hinted at clear expectations being paramount in online classes.

The Respect theme describes statements representing the students’ yearning for instructors to
demonstrate care and deference to student needs. This theme covered ideals such as patience,
encouragement, timeliness, and availability. The Respect theme appeared in 44 of the 2,719 coded
segments. Cindy, a 60-year-old senior, explained that she expected timeliness with grading: “I expect
them to get the tests graded in a timely manner. If I am supposed to get my stuff in on time, then you
had better get my grade back to me on time.” The students expected the faculty to demonstrate respect
as a part of teaching the online course.

The third and final theme regarding expected behaviors is intentional course design. The Intentional
Design theme described instructional design tactics mentioned by students when asked for expected
instructor behaviors. This theme, appearing in 63 of the 2,719 coded segments, covers pedagogical
strategies such as using online forums, having the course designed in a timely manner, and assigning
an appropriate amount of work. Joe, a 42-year-old senior, demonstrated that he expected instructors to
use effective pedagogical strategies on online discussion boards:

Instead make it more of a conversation. Make it more of a feedback thing as a requirement. Start calling
people out on their answers in front of everybody, because that is what you do in class. You can’t just
say something and then arbitrarily leave it hanging. Most good instructors would say, “Why do you really
think that?.”

This example reveals students expect clarity, respect, and intentional design from instructors in an
online course. Next, we examine the behaviors students experience online that lead to satisfaction.

Positive Instructor Behaviors Enacted Online

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Participants in our qualitative study reflected on the behaviors enacted in the online classroom that
students evaluated as satisfactory. The interview questions asked students to explain what behaviors
they experienced from faculty that made the outcome feel positive. The students explained examples
that fell into one of two different themes: Effective Communication and Enabling Learning.

The Effective Communication theme tied together all subcodes that discussed facets of messages from
instructors that students viewed positively. The use of various modalities of communication were
mentioned in this thematic area where online instructor behaviors led to successful outcomes. Effective
Communication was mentioned in 106 of the 2,719 coded segments. E-mail was the most referenced
modality in the Effective Communication thematic area (41 of the 106 Effective Communication-themed
segments). Lois, a 47-year-old senior, mentioned, “I probably have more e-mail interaction in an online
class.” This effective communication resonated with many of the interviewed students.

The second theme identifying positively enacted instructor behaviors was Enabling Learning. The
Enabling Learning theme identified those statements where instructors empowered and assisted
students in the learning process, which left the students feeling satisfied. This thematic area
encompassed items such as reminding students of upcoming deadlines and instructors interacting with
the students, and was mentioned in 156 of the 2,719 coded segments. Reminders were often cited (28
of the 156 Enabling Learning-themed segments) and the power of reminders was best explained by
Mary, a 28-year-old senior, who stated the following:

So they’re not necessarily hand-holding you, but in a sense they’re there to remind you and they want to
make sure that you’re doing the work and achieving it and completing it on time rather than just saying,
“Here you go; make sure you get it done.”

Another popular subtheme in Enabling Learning was interacting with students (31 of the 156 Enabling
Learning-themed segments). Lois, a 47-year-old senior, claimed, “I guess just for me, the more they can
interact with the people they are trying to teach, the better it is from my perspective.”

Negative Instructor Behaviors Enacted Online
Although the respondents shared many enacted behaviors where they experienced positive outcomes,
the students also shared instructor behaviors that led to dissatisfaction in the online classroom. The
interview questions prompted students to share an experience when an instructor did something that
they felt did not work well and led to negative outcomes. The students shared examples in one of two
themes: Poor Use of Tools and Stopping the Learning Process.

The Poor Use of Tools theme explains the statements from students that described online instructors
using teaching strategies in an ineffective manner. The Poor Use of Tools theme was cited in 33 of the
2,719 coded segments and encompassed subthemes such as not having the online system set up
correctly and not effectively using available tools. Carl, a 38-year-old senior, showed evident frustration
related to an online course not being set up correctly:

When you open up a session and you see due dates from two years ago or half, kind of half-mashed
together assignments and just things that don’t make sense or you are supposed to do a, supposed to
post a discussion response, but when you go to do it, there is no button. There is no option to allow you
to post to the site.

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Mike, a 26-year-old junior, echoed this frustration and explained that online systems not being set up
cause him to lose motivation: “You’re so motivated at the beginning of the semester, and when you have
a week and a half before you’re even able to do anything, kind of makes you lose motivation.”

The second theme, Stopping the Learning Process, arose when students referenced instructor
behaviors that disrupted their ability to successfully proceed with the learning process. Students
referenced behaviors such as falling behind on grading, not responding to student questions, and rude
interactions. Stopping the Learning Process appeared in 84 of the 2,719 coded segments. Cindy, a 60-
year-old senior, shared frustration when tests are not graded in a timely fashion: “That really kind of
upsets me that it is three weeks later and you don’t know how you did and it is time for the next test.”

Recommendations From Adult Students for Online Instructors
Finally, students shed light on behavioral practices that adult students wish more faculty enacted when
teaching online. The interview question we used to invite participants to share these recommendations
asked students to share ideas for helping faculty create the most effective online class environment.
The students cited suggestions that fit in one of the following three thematic areas: Intentional Artistry in
Course Design, Meeting Students Where They Are At, and a final theme just asking instructors to Do
Your Job.

The Intentional Artistry in Course Design theme encompasses suggestions from students that refer to
the instructor constructing the course in creative, effective, and exciting ways. This thematic area
references techniques demonstrating mastery of the art of effective course design, and the theme was
mentioned in 171 of the 2,719 coded segments. Shawn, a 24-year-old sophomore, suggested finding a
way to incorporate perspectives of other students in the class because “they pick up on things and you
pick up on things that they don’t and then you can learn things you didn’t know.”

The second thematic area for student recommendations involves instructor behaviors, or Meeting
Students Where They Are At. This theme explains the necessity for faculty to adjust the course for
individual students based on obligations and responsibilities outside of the classroom. This thematic
area (in 34 of the 2,719 coded segments) covered suggestions such as knowing your audience, being
flexible, and understanding the busy life of an adult student. Carl, a 38-year-old senior, shared that he
wanted instructors to be more respectful of individual circumstances:

You are dealing with the stay-at-home moms, the career dads that are trying to extend their education
and get a leg up at work. You are dealing with people that are, instead of just kind of being tunnel vision
on one thing, they are balancing a lot of different things on their plates and on their shoulders, so you
need to know that audience so you can be a little bit respectful, or a lot bit respectful, but a little bit more
mindful of how you may phrase some things in the form of responses and expectations.

The final theme of suggestions for online instructors instructs online teachers to simply Do Your Job.
The Do Your Job theme encompasses recommendations that instructors should actually perform the
duties in their job description, and additionally covers tactics institutions should also engage in to ensure
teachers do their jobs. The Do Your Job theme appears in 94 of the 2,719 coded segments. Carmen, a
30-year-old senior, suggested to “keep the students informed, and be available as opposed to not. Don’t
just slough off comments, actually respond to all the e-mails.” Carl, a 38-year-old senior, additionally
suggests that institutions should be doing more to ensure instructors are doing their job: “The dean or
somebody that is in charge of the online courses should be just randomly popping into the courses and
just seeing how dysfunctional they are.”

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Discussion
The first research question explored expectations adult students have for online instructors. The
students revealed that they sign up for online courses because the courses fit their schedules, allowed
self-direction of their learning, and used learning tools they liked. As Carl and many other students
discussed, outside commitments make finding time for class challenging. Instructors in higher education
need to understand the challenges (such as limited time) that adult students face and be willing to adjust
to what these adult learners expect and need during their learning experiences (Donovant, Daniel, &
MacKewn, [12]).

As the results showed, when adult students do make the time to take an online class, students expect
clarity, respect, and intentional design from their instructors because time is precious and adult students
do not have time to waste. As Mary emphasized, students want clarity from the start, which aligns with
previous research that found adult students expect clarity from instructors (Houser, [19]). Clarity,
respect, and intentional design together are best achieved when an instructor has adept teaching
abilities. Because these students were enrolled in many different types of undergraduate courses,
higher education institutions should be mindful of adult student needs across the curriculum. Adult
students also want extra clarity, so colleges and universities should ensure online instructors receive
training to enact tools online to meet those needs effectively. Institutions must move beyond the idea
that generic teaching standards actually meet the unique needs of running an effective online course
(Baran et al., [ 4]).

The second research question aimed to uncover what adult students experienced from an instructor in
an online course that led to the student feeling positive or negative about the interaction. Expectancy
violations theory (EVT) explains that when a behavior matches or exceeds what is expected, the
outcome is likely to be satisfying, but when a behavior does not meet expectations, the resulting feeling
will be much less satisfying (Koermer & Petelle, [23]). RQ1 found that students expect clarity, and in line
with EVT, when instructors were clear in their communication, the behavior matched student
expectations and students were more satisfied with the instruction. When instructors communicated in
clear ways such as via e-mail, students felt they were better able to learn from the instructor. This
finding is in line with previous research that found effective learning occurs when individuals interact
with one another using communication to co-construct the learning process (Bronack, Riedl, & Tashner,
[ 6]). Therefore, higher education institutions must ensure that online course policies require the
instructors to deliver a quality communicative experience that enables learning (Johnson et al., [21]).

However, students also reported that when instructor behaviors did not meet their expectations, the
resulting feeling was much less satisfying. Interviewees explained that the poor use of teaching tools
and behaviors that stopped the learning process left them feeling frustrated because those behaviors
did not meet their expectations for respect. When instructors do not meet student expectations, the
students do not feel satisfied and may possibly even lose motivation, as was mentioned by Mike. Adult
students often already feel stress and guilt about not being able to juggle all of their roles (Zembylas,
[38]), so the addition of encountering behaviors that do not meet their expectations may lead students to
abandon their online class, which would be detrimental to both their learning and higher education
enrollment numbers. To ensure students do not face the frustration of unmet expectations and to
improve student persistence, personnel working with adult students in higher education must commit to
proactively understanding and addressing adult student needs (Kasworm, [22]; Wyatt, [37]).

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The third research question asked adult students how online instructors could better meet their needs.
The interviewee suggestions surrounded intentional, creative course design, tactics that meet students
where they are at, and instructors simply doing their jobs. Students provided suggestions to make the
course design better, such as Shawn’s proposal to have students interact more with one another.
Teachers oftentimes have limited or no online experience, and when those inexperienced teachers
simply transfer face-to-face teaching strategies to online, it does not work (Baran et al., [ 4]). Therefore,
students may not see as much sound course design currently because instructors may not know how to
design an effective online class if they do not receive training.

Students also suggested that instructors should meet students where they are at and that instructors
should simply do their jobs. As explained by Mary, adult students want teachers to understand they
have more going on than just school. In order for students to achieve active learning, instructors must
invest time to construct and continually adjust classes based on the needs of the enrolled students (Ball
& Leppington, [ 3]). Previous research has shown that a best practice for educating adult learners is to
have faculty adjust their teaching delivery to adapt to the needs of the learners (Wyatt, [37]), so
institutions should ensure online instructors are adapting courses to meet student needs. Simply put, if
higher educational institutions provide tools and procedures to help instructors do their job well, adult
students will be better able to succeed.

Conclusion
This study used qualitative interviews to explore adult student expectations and experiences in online
courses. Through the interviews, we found student expectations of online instructors fell into one of
three thematic areas: clarity, respect, and intentional design. In line with EVT, when students
encountered instructor behaviors such as poor use of instructional tools, students were less satisfied
because it did not meet their expectations for clarity, respect, or intentional design. However, also in line
with EVT, when students encountered instructor behaviors such as effective communication, those
behaviors met student needs for clarity and respect, so the students were satisfied. EVT emphasizes
the importance of aligned expectations (Burgoon, [ 7]), and this study demonstrated that when online
instructor behavior aligned with adult student expectations, students were more satisfied and were
better able to learn.

Beyond empirical contributions to current research on adult students and online learning, the themes
that arose from the data suggest ways that higher education may better meet the needs of adult
students. Instructors and institutions of higher education need to be cognizant of intentional course
design, meeting students where they are at, and developing procedures to ensure instructors effectively
do their jobs. Although this study interviewed only adult students, we believe the findings also have
relevance to traditional student learning because the suggestions emphasize good teaching. Future
research should continue to explore the connection between effective course design and meeting
student (both traditional and adult) needs. Although this study did not require students to have taken
more than one online course, future research could look to uncover strategies used across multiple
online courses. Future research could also interview both types of students to reveal more useful
information regarding expected instructor behaviors.

Although it is unlikely that one formula exists for effective instructor behaviors, future research needs to
analyze specific online instructor behaviors, demonstrate the effectiveness of each behavior, and then
determine if those behaviors meet adult student needs. Throughout our research we found that
instructor behaviors demonstrating clarity, care, and sound course design best supported the learning

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process. Both institutions and instructors must strive to use these behaviors to meet adult (and
traditional) student expectations positively in the online classroom.

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~~~~~~~~
By Renee Bourdeaux and Lindsie Schoenack

Reported by Author; Author

Renee Bourdeaux, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Communication in the Communication Studies
Department at Northwest University, Kirkland, WA.

Lindsie Schoenack, MA, is a doctoral student in the Education Doctoral Program in the School of
Education, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND.

http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1080/00909880305376

http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1080/03634520600565886

http://dx.doi.org.library.capella.edu/10.1177/1080569911434826

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