Joseph W. McNabb


Angela Bermudez, Margaret Dougherty, Lynda Beltz, Thiana Ferry

Date of Award


Date Accepted


Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department or Academic Unit

College of Professional Studies, Department of Education


education, educational evaluation, connectivism, e-Learning, Moustakas, online learning, phenomenology, psychological perceptions




This phenomenological investigation focused on the exploration of the lived experiences of students who had dropped out of traditional four year colleges and returned to complete their degree by e-Learning. The goal of this investigation was to gain a new understanding of the psychological, motivational, and ethical aspects of continuing a four year college education through an e-Learning environment.

The data included in-depth interviews with the participants on their perceptions and experiences in achieving a baccalaureate degree by e-learning after dropping out of a traditional four year college program. To enhance the rigor and trustworthiness of the study, the researcher engaged in member checking, reflexive and methodological journaling, and analysis. Phenomenological data analysis procedures followed recommendations by Creswell (2005) and Moustakas (1994). Specifically, the analysis was conducted using the modified van Kaam method proposed by Moustakas (1994), with a semi-structured interview format (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010).

Results of the study are presented as descriptions of how participants perceived the impact of e-Learning on their educational, personal and professional lives. Five thematic categories emerged from the interviews: (a) flexibility; (b) academic integrity; (c) satisfaction; (d) the importance of the teacher; (e) a diminishing need for support as the learner proceeds through the e-Learning process. Categories consisted of one or more related themes. Consideration is given as to how the researcher's experiences and beliefs played a role in the study. Strengths, weaknesses, and considerations of the study findings are offered as are implications of the study for practice and for future research.

Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Rights Information

copyright 2011

Rights Holder

Julia E. Antoine

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