Improving the Online Dissertation Writing Process

Improving the Online Dissertation Writing Process

Libi Shen (University of Phoenix, USA) and Irene Linlin Chen (University of Houston Downtown, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5051-0.ch018
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Online doctoral programs have been developed rapidly over the years due to the advance of technology, and educators are seeking a new educational paradigm and innovative instructional strategies for online doctoral programs. This study presents cases of doctoral learners and dissertation mentors in online dissertation courses. The goal of this case study is to raise awareness for the need of an interactive mentor-mentee relationship in online higher education and to provide pointers and guidance for both mentors and mentees in navigating the maze of ill-structured learning. The findings of this study imply that social presence in distance education affects doctoral learners’ learning, course satisfaction, and faculty-student relationships in the dissertation writing process. This case study has implications for instructional designers and educators in infusing faculty-student interactions with technological support.
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Setting The Stage

While the university advocates online programs, students have access to electronic textbooks and virtual library for course taking and for doing research. Within the online dissertation course platform, there are Course Materials, Main Forum, and Chat Room. Dissertation chairs are allowed to build Instructor Policies, Course Syllabus, and reference materials in the Course Materials prior to the beginning of the class. In the Main Forum, dissertation chairs could post weekly assignments, assigned readings, discussion questions, weekly reflections, supplementary information, and so on to communicate with the doctoral learners. Dissertation chairs are expected to access the online course once a week and doctoral learners were expected to access the online course space twice a week to ask questions or write their dissertations.

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