Research in online writing instruction often focuses on student perceptions of learning and best practices of online pedagogy (Boyd, 2008; Dziuban, Moska, Kramer, & Thompson, 2013; Hewett & Warnock, 2015; Pigg & Morrison, 2016; Roby, Ashe, Singh, & Clark, 2013; Warnock, 2009). At the University of Central Florida, online learning research is especially important due to the increasing volume of both online and hybrid courses across the university (which is itself in response to increasing numbers of students enrolling but limited classroom space with which to teach). The current push from many university administrators for increased enrollment in online classes focuses on access and convenience; however, there is not as much of a conversation asking if the learning in the class is affected by the online course, or the different avenues for learning that these courses present. In this study, I noted that while scholarship discussed students', teachers', and institutions' roles in online courses, there was a lack of alignment in those areas. To investigate this lack of alignment, I interviewed four students enrolled in online courses and three instructors currently teaching online courses through the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida. Through a grounded theory analysis (Charmaz, 2006; Strauss & Corbin, 1998), I identified areas of agreement and dissonance in both the creation of and implementation of online courses. Overall, students and instructors seemed to focus both their positive and negative perceptions and expectations around discussions as sites of learning, expectations of time/effort, feedback, and classroom community. These are common sites of benefits and disadvantages of online writing courses, which make this investigation important to the continuing conversation of how we better align our perceptions and expectations to improve student learning in online writing courses. The conclusions from this study address the importance and difficulty of transparency in online courses and the need for consistency across the institution, the instructors, and the students. This research provides suggestions for implementing the findings of this research at the classroom and department levels.


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Graduation Date





Vie, Stephanie


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities


Writing and Rhetoric

Degree Program

English; Rhetoric and Composition









Release Date

May 2017

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)