CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

College of Engineering and Computing

Advisor

Gertrude Abramson

Committee Member

Marilyn Olander

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Abstract

An examination of the recent literature revealed there are no established standards for orienting online doctoral students. To address this problem, the relevant literature was examined and suggested that doctoral students can be effectively oriented to their academic environment when provided with the requisite programmatic and institutional information, and factors that support socialization and self-efficacy.

A literature-based orientation was developed to examine its impact on students’ first semester success in terms of rates of retention and grade point averages (GPA). This was accomplished using a developmental study approach that included three primary phases: 1) development of a literature-based orientation; 2) implementation of a synchronous online orientation; and 3) evaluation of the impact of the orientation on students’ programmatic knowledge and their perceptions of the factors of self-efficacy and socialization.

A survey instrument was developed to evaluate the impact of the orientation on participants and administered to the fall 2017 online doctoral cohort in the criminal justice doctoral (DCJ) program at Nova Southeastern University. Survey results showed that student levels of knowledge increased significantly and those students placed a great deal of value on the socialization factors related to academic relationships with other students and faculty.

Students entered the doctoral program with relative high levels of self-efficacy although their confidence level dropped slightly when asked about their ability to persist when encountering personal, financial, or familial difficulties. Included in the evaluation phase were comparisons of archival GPA and retention data from the 2014 DCJ cohort, who did not have the option of participating in a synchronous orientation compared with the 2017 cohort who did participate in the orientation.

Additional comparisons were made within the 2017 cohort between those that participated in the orientation and those that did not. The results of the quantitative analyses revealed an 8% increase in retention rates for the 2017 cohort students that participated over the 2014 cohort. The 2017 cohort students that participated in the orientation showed a slight decrease (7%) in overall GPA when compared to the 2014 cohort. Further comparisons made within the 2017 cohort showed that students who participated in the orientation had better rates of retention and GPAs than the students who did not participate.

The findings of study provided the following recommendations regarding the minimum standards to include in an orientation including the programmatic factors associated with curriculum requirements, deadline to obtain degree, and location of important program documents such as academic calendars, handbooks/catalogs, and dissertation guidelines.

Institutional components included the registration process, academic advisor information, learning management system introduction, research library introduction, financial aid and military veteran specific information. Additionally, the factors that supported socialization and self-efficacy were recommended to be included in a set of orientation standards. Those factors should support student-to-faculty-to-student academic relationships and students who encounter personal, financial, or familial barriers respectively.

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