A study of the learning experiences and strategies of first-time asynchronous online graduate education students

Dennis L. Bussen, Marquette University


This study investigated the learning experiences and strategies of two first time asynchronous online graduate education students. The study used a qualitative case study design in which two participants were purposefully selected. Each participant served as a single case study. The participants were enrolled in the same online course, at the same university, and had the same instructor. Data was gathered from each of the participants during the course by conducting interviews, exchanging email, and examining course assignments. The collected data was disaggregated by typological analysis and was reported in sequence from course start to finish to observe changes in the learning experiences and strategies of each participant as time in the course progressed. Each participant described many new learning experiences throughout the course. In addition, each participant described specific learning strategies that were used to resolve problems or to improve the online learning experience. Some of these learning strategies were common to traditional classroom courses, while others were newly invented and were specifically applicable to courses taught online. A cross case analysis revealed that although the two study participants shared many learning experiences in common, each also cited experiences that were unique to their particular situation. The participants also described several common learning strategies and others that were case specific. The separation in distance affected the learning experiences of both first time online learners. Each participant also expressed feeling distant and disconnected from classmates and the instructor at various times throughout the course. This finding was consistent with a framework for teaching and learning in distance education. The asynchronous separation in time did not affect participant learning. Recommendations are made for future first time online learners and for instructors developing online courses.

Recommended Citation

Bussen, Dennis L., "A study of the learning experiences and strategies of first-time asynchronous online graduate education students" (2002). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3078903.