School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Laura E. Jones


Technology, sense of community, doctoral persistence, online learning, connectedness


Online and Distance Education


The purpose of this case study was to explore the perceptions and experiences of online doctoral students and online professors' utilization of technology for doctoral persistence. This study focused on how online professors and students use technology to enhance a sense of community and connectedness at a southeastern university. Technology plays a crucial role in the online doctoral candidates' persistence, so this study explored the technological strategies implemented to promote a sense of community and connectedness among online doctoral students. Vincent Tinto's 1975 student integration model (SIM), which explains the interactions of several aspects and processes that influence a student's decision to leave university, was used as the theoretical guide for this study. The study enrolled 19 participants, and data collection was performed using document analysis, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups. Data analysis utilized a flexible pattern match analytical model. The study found that support services, strategic curriculum and instruction, social integration, and technological experience are predominant factors that participants identified as essential for developing a sense of community and connectedness in the online learning environment.