Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Shirley Walrod, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charles Schlosser, Ph.D.


sense of community, online doctoral students, instructional design, interaction, phenomenology


Sense of Community Experienced by Online Doctoral Students: A Phenomenological Study. Megan Conners Murtaugh, 2019: Applied Dissertation, Nova Southeastern University, Abraham S. Fischler College of Education. Keywords: sense of community, online doctoral students, instructional design, interaction, phenomenology

The problem explored in this study was the sense of community experienced by doctoral students in online courses. The purpose of this study was to describe the sense of community experienced by students completing online doctoral courses.

This study used a phenomenological method to explore the sense of community experienced by 12 online doctoral students. Four participants were enrolled in courses as cohort members who took all of their courses together, four participants were cohort members who took some of their courses together, and four participants were students who were not in a cohort. The researcher conducted interviews using open-ended questions to capture specific experiences, events, or interactions reported by online doctoral students that contributed to a sense of community. Participants also had an opportunity to share experiences, events, or interactions that led to them feeling isolated or disconnected from their instructors, peers, or content. Themes in relation to the sense of community described by online doctoral students were identified and discussed. Shared experiences, human interaction, personal connections, and outside interactions emerged as the five main themes for sense of community as reported by online doctoral students. These themes were consistent throughout the experiences online doctoral students communicated about their interactions with instructors, other learners, and course content. The researcher provided recommendations for instructional designers, online faculty, program administrators, and students considering enrolling in an online doctoral program.

To access this thesis/dissertation you must have a valid OR email address and create an account for NSUWorks.

Free My Thesis

If you are the author of this work and would like to grant permission to make it openly accessible to all, please click the Free My Thesis button.

  Contact Author