The relationship between course design, sense of community, and student achievement of students in online courses



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The number of students enrolled in at least one online course reached nearly 6.7 million for the 2011-2012 academic year, which represents around 32% of the total enrollment (Allen & Seaman, 2013). As more higher education institutions offer online courses, it is necessary to further study course design and effective online strategies. Numerous researchers (LaPointe & Reisetter, 2008; Liu, et al., 2007; Ouzts, 2006; Rovai, 2002a) have established that high-quality online learning fosters a strong sense of community among its members. The purpose of this study is to describe the strength and direction of the relationship between online course design and students’ perceived sense of community and student achievement as measured by end-ofcourse grades of students enrolled in fully online undergraduate and graduate courses. Correlational analysis was used to explore the relationship between the variables. The findings show the importance of both sense of community and course design may have on an online course because there was a statistically significant positive relationship between course design, sense of community and student achievement. This study contributes to the body of knowledge regarding sense of community and materials and planning interaction and their combined ability to predict student achievement in a mainly Hispanic population.
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