CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Timothy J Ellis

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Committee Member

Eric S. Ackerman


Affective Domain, Health Sciences, Institutional Mission, Online Community, Online Education, Spirituality


In the past decade Higher Education Institutions have experienced tremendous growth in enrollments. To meet this demand, many higher education institutions have embraced online education and its requisite technologies. Online education has matured, and studies focusing on the cognitive domain indicate that distance education is as effective as the traditional face-to-face instructional modality. However, there is a scarcity of affective domain studies due to: a) the need for the institutions of higher education to perform quantitative studies to establish the quality of online education b) the affective domain's inherent subjective nature, and c) the educational research environment has slow recognition of the validity and value of qualitative research.

This scarcity of research has created a reluctance to engage in online education on the part of a large number of private and public mission-driven educational institutions. Historically these institutions place great emphasis on the affective domain and currently believe that the affective domain cannot be effectively promoted in the online environment. Therefore, the conclusion is drawn that if online education cannot provide the affective component, then it is counterproductive to the mission of the institution desiring to provide a transformative education. This reluctance threatens the existence of many mission-driven institutions by falling behind in the distance education market place. Quality research is needed in the area of the affective domain in distance education to convince these institutions that the affective domain can effectively be taught in the online environment.

This grounded theory study of an established online Bachelors of Radiography Program has developed a theory as to why students report a strong sense of mission when compared with other like institutions in the Mission Engagement Consortium for Independent Colleges (MECIC). Through a series of interviews with eight students, two alumni, four faculty, and the requisite coding, six contributing pedagogical phenomena and three central categories emerged. The three central categories, Instructor Persistence, Synchronous Encounters, and Integrated Institutional Mission, when working together, were found to have created continued and significant impact on the affective domain for the students of the Radiography program. Further research will be needed to quantitatively test the theory developed in this study and establish a baseline of best practices in promoting the affective domain in the online learning environment.

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