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Bridging the Theory-to-practice Gap: a Multivariate Correlational Study Exploring the Effects of a Graduate Online Learning Environment As a Community of Practice Framework

Description: In this multivariate correlational study, the researcher examined the course culture of an online graduate course whose environment exhibited characteristics of a Community of practice (CoP). An online survey captured data used to explore the relationships among variables shown to describe a CoP in field environments and among student perceptions of their experience in the course culture. A canonical correlation analysis (CCA) and commonality analysis (CA) were conducted using five predictor variables and three criterion variables to evaluate the degree and direction of the relationships. The CCA revealed that the full model was significant, explaining approximately 74% of the variance among the two synthetic variates. Impact, faculty leadership, and connection were the largest contributors to the predictor variate. The criterion variate was primarily explained by value and perceived CoP, with exposure to the profession providing a smaller contribution. The CA confirmed these findings. Results from this study indicate that a CoP could be fostered in an online graduate course. The overall significance of the model indicates teachers can nurture an environment wherein graduate students will take the initiative to work with others to create and acquire knowledge that creates a sense of professional connection with each other and with the profession overall. The results of this study suggest further empirical research in implementing and assessing CoPs in online graduate courses is warranted.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Bone, Tonda Jenean
Partner: UNT Libraries