Damion LewisFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Sarah J Pannone


Distance Learning, Hermeneutics, NCVPS, Online Learning, Phenomenology, Virtual School


Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Online and Distance Education


The purpose of this hermeneutical phenomenological study was to describe secondary student experiences within mandatorily assigned online courses using the North Carolina Virtual Public Schools (NCVPS) platform. Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory provided a lens to explore this phenomenon. Specifically, the study was guided by the central research question: What are the experiences of secondary students who are required to take online courses using NCVPS? Student participants were selected from two low-performing high schools in northeastern North Carolina. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and document analysis. Accordingly, data was analyzed through the process of immersion: continually reading, reflecting, and interpreting data, in addition, NVivo 11 was used to assist the aforementioned processes and aid coding efforts. Appropriate methods outlined by van Manen (1990) were followed to ensure alignment with the hermeneutical style of phenomenology. The results of the study revealed what secondary students experience while participating in a mandatory NCVPS course vary depending on specific course, content, and perceived personal learning style; moreover, student levels of internet self-efficacy are not a strong determinant as to whether those experiences will be wholly positive or negative nor is their acclimation to technology a determining factor for how a student might perceive online learning. Students revealed concerns regarding presence of the online instructor as well as perceived support. Students acknowledged favorable perceived value of the required, school-based course facilitator. In addition, students noted increased dependency on various learning strategies in order to successfully perform in their assigned courses.