Vol. 32 No. 2 (2017)
Research Articles

Cultural Communication Characteristics and Student Connectedness in an Online Environment: Perceptions and Preferences of Online Graduate Students

Tim Green
California State University, Fullerton
Malia Hoffmann
California State University, Fullerton
Loretta Donovan
California State University, Fullerton
Nawang Phuntsog
California State University, Fullerton
Published December 5, 2017
  • online distance education,
  • low-context cultures,
  • high-context cultures,
  • course design,
  • program design,
  • connectedness
  • ...More
How to Cite
Green, T., Hoffmann, M., Donovan, L., & Phuntsog, N. (2017). Cultural Communication Characteristics and Student Connectedness in an Online Environment: Perceptions and Preferences of Online Graduate Students. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education / Revue Internationale Du E-Learning Et La Formation à Distance, 32(2). Retrieved from https://www.ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/1033


This multi-year exploratory research examined the perceptions of connectedness of students enrolled in an online cohort-based Master’s program in educational technology. The research specifically examined the level of connectedness the graduate students from low-context and high-context cultures felt towards their peers, the professors, and the program. Participants (n = 50) were surveyed on their perceptions of connectedness and what elements of the program and course design led to their level of connectedness. Fourteen participants agreed to follow-up interviews. The data were used to compare how students who identified as low-context culture differed in their perceptions of connectedness to students who identified as high-context culture. The findings suggest that no matter what cultural identification students indicated, the feelings of connectedness toward peers, the professors, and the program were strong. Participants indicated feeling most connected to program professors, primarily due to the intensity and methods of communication. Findings indicate other program and course design elements that led to student connectedness. Implications for online course and program design are discussed.


Cette recherche exploratoire pluriannuelle a examiné les perceptions de la reliance des étudiants inscrits à un programme de maîtrise en technologie de l'éducation fondé sur des cohortes en ligne. La recherche a tout particulièrement examiné le niveau de reliance que les étudiants diplômés, provenant de contextes culturels de bas ou de haut niveau, ressentent envers leurs pairs aussi bien qu’envers les professeurs ou le programme. Les participants (n=50) ont été interrogés sur leur perception de la reliance et  sur les éléments du programme et de la conception des cours qui influencent leur niveau de reliance. Quatorze participants ont accepté de participer à des entretiens. Les données ont été utilisées pour comparer la manière dont les étudiants identifiés comme provenant de contextes de bas niveau culturel avaient des perceptions différentes de la reliance de ceux identifiés comme provenant de contexte de haut niveau culturel. Les résultats suggèrent que, peu importe la catégorie culturelle des étudiants, le sentiment de reliance envers les pairs, les professeurs, et les programmes était fort. Les participants font part de sentiments particulièrement en lien avec les professeurs programme notamment en raison de l’intensité et des méthodes de communication. Les résultats pointent d’autres éléments de conception de programme et de cours favorisant la reliance étudiante. Finalement, la discussion porte sur les implications de ces résultats concernant la conception des cours et programmes en ligne.


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