Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

C. Michael Robinson

Second Supervisor

Julie A. White


Online courses provide access to higher education for many community college students (Allen & Seaman, 2006). Despite the convenience of online classes for community college students and the recent surge in online courses (Allen & Seaman, 2013), they have higher failure rates than face-to-face classes (R. Jenkins, 2011; Patterson & McFadden, 2009; Xu & Jaggars, 2013). The study identified what community college students perceived as important elements of teacher practice that led them to feel successful in an online course. The community of inquiry framework (CoI) provided the theoretical framework for the exploratory sequential mixed methods study. Focus group data were analyzed through a qualitative coding process and used to build a quantitative survey instrument. Survey results were analyzed using descriptive statistics to identify their perceived importance (Krueger & Casey, 2015). Results indicated that participants valued having course material well-explained, effective learning tools, applicable course content, timely grading, personal feedback, and the ability to revise their work. Teachers having email contact, participating in online discussions, being available, and caring were also important to participants. Results support the foundation of the community of inquiry framework, particularly teaching presence. The most essential recommendation is to move from a teacher-centered model to a student-centered model for online learning. Recommendations include providing teacher and student preparation for online learning, offering institutional support, and researching best practices in online education.

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