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Lina Soares Amanda L Townley Regina Rahimi

Abstract

Despite an overall decline in post-secondary school enrollment in the United States, online programs are growing, fueled by increased accessibility and technology. Online graduate education affords flexibility and convenience for graduate students, as many cannot attend on-campus classes due to external obligations. However, some factors that attract graduate online learners, such as ease and convenience, also prevent them from completing their degree programs. Research demonstrates that online graduate students face risks to success from multiple factors, including the need for more preparation. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to examine perceptions of graduate faculty related to the preparedness of graduate students and investigate what mechanisms graduate faculty utilize to support graduate students’ success. Data were collected via Likert scale and open-ended response prompts from 23 online graduate course faculty participants. Descriptive statistics provided the mean values for participants' perceptions, while inductive coding and principles of grounded theory identified themes across responses. Findings suggest that faculty perceive relatively little change in the level of preparedness among graduate online students compared to past students. However, skills such as writing and research are areas where students need additional support, cataloging a range of utilized approaches to provide that support. In closing, assessment is needed for support to determine effectiveness and impact of approaches to bolster student ability to complete graduate programs successfully.

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Section
Articles