School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Rachel Nichole Hernandez


academic achievement, division I student-athletes, engagement, first-year student-athletes, interaction, online learning, self-determination theory, student-athletes


Education | Online and Distance Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the impact of student-faculty interaction and its perceived effects on academic achievement in online education for student-athletes attending a Division I university in Missouri. At this stage in the research, quality of student-faculty interaction in online education is defined as online interaction between teachers and students that leads to better self-directedness, motivation, engagement, student satisfaction, and academic achievement. The theory guiding this study was self-determination theory as it helps to identify and understand the student-athlete’s inherent drive towards action and doing tasks towards growth and proficiency in online education. The central question leading this research study asked, “What are student-athletes’ lived experiences of faculty interactions and academic engagement when learning in an online environment?” The participants selected for this study are male and female, aged 18 to 22, first-year student-athletes enrolled in one or more online courses attending a NCAA Division I University in the state of Missouri. Data was collected and triangulated through surveys, individual interviews, and journal prompts. All collected data was analyzed using the transcendental framework. To present the essence of the phenomenon, data analysis followed Moustakas' (1994) transcendental methods of epoché, phenomenological reduction, and horizontalization of textural and structural descriptions. The study produced three themes and eight sub-themes. The themes were course dynamic, student-instructor involvement, and quality of student-instructor interactions. This study found that quality student-faculty relationships impacted their perceptions of self-directedness, motivation, engagement, student satisfaction, and academic achievement.