School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Karla Swafford


Community College, Online Learning, Communication, Social Presence


Communication | Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe 13 students’ experiences of college professor communication in asynchronous online courses at a large urban community college in central North Carolina. The focus was to answer the central research question of how online students describe communication experiences in an online college learning environment. The theories guiding this study were Knowles’ (1980) theory of adult learning- andragogy, and Short, Williams, and Christie’s (1976) social presence theory, as they correlated the need for professor communication with adult learning and social presence since communication can impact academic success for adult learners. To collect data, interviews and focus groups were conducted, and written journals were collected (Creswell & Poth, 2018, Moustakas, 1994). These three methods were incorporated to gather rich information from multiple sources. For analysis, Moustakas’s (1994) methods for transcendental phenomenology for data analysis were used. The four processes used were epoche, transcendental phenomenological reduction with the use of horizontalization (listing each expression related to the experience), imaginative variation, and synthesis of meanings. This data analysis involved examining significant themes and statements that reflected commonalities among all lived participant experiences in a simplified way (Moustakas, 1994). Results of this study impacted online learning by providing college professors with comments on online communication trends that positively and negatively impacted student course experiences.