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Voigt

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Online communication in education setting

Online communication in education setting

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  • 1. Peer Social Support Among Online Undergraduate Students: A Circle of Comfort Lisa L. Voigt Fielding Graduate University
  • 2. Research Question
    • How is peer social support, among online undergraduate students, described, manifested, and valued?
  • 3. Literature Review
    • Perceived social support
    • Four types of social support: emotional, instrumental, informational, and appraisal
    • Social support available online
    • Online students appreciate other students
    • Online students desire communication with other students
    • Camaraderie, or social support, can form among online students
  • 4. Methodology
    • Qualitative research - survey followed by phone interviews
    • Large, for-profit, online university
    • Provided 711 names/email addresses
      • Last quarter of program, or 15 or fewer credits from graduation, or who had completed in last quarter
      • 63 participated in the survey
      • 25 met criteria
      • 14 agreed to be interviewed
  • 5. Findings
    • Describe peer social support positively
    • Three distinct groups emerged
      • Incidental supporters (IS) - four members
        • Gave and received social support for the purpose of furthering education
      • Amicable supporters (AS) - six members
        • Began their relationships because of an assignment, but continued communicating to the point of personal support
      • Emotional supporters (ES) - four members
        • Formed tight, emotional bonds that transcended the online learning experience
  • 6. Findings: Social Support Manifestation IS Group
    • Did not seek out support
    • First experienced in final class during extensive team project
    • Similarities in work or complimentary skill set drew students together
  • 7. Findings: Social Support Manifestation AS Group
    • Met during a class assignment early in their program
    • Connected because of similarities in work experience, families, geography, personality, etc.
  • 8. Findings: Social Support Manifestation ES Group
    • Met through a variety of different ways
    • Looked for similarities
  • 9. Findings: Social Support Description IS Group
    • Hesitant to embrace the term social support
    • Support among all four members was instrumental in nature
    • One member described informational support
    • To some degree all four said other students contributed to feelings of “support, comfort, or belonging”
  • 10. Findings: Social Support Description AS Group
    • Social support experienced more frequently, more situations, more ways
    • All four types observed
    • Personal connections, stay in touch for longer, support transcends classroom
    • All members indicate supportive other(s) contributed to support, comfort or belonging
  • 11. Findings: Social Support Description ES Group
    • Personal relationships
    • Intense emotional bonds
    • Layers of support
    • From school to highly personal
    • All members indicate supportive other(s) contributed to support, comfort or belonging
  • 12. Findings: Social Support Valuation IS Group
    • Tepid responses
    • None in contact or no plans to stay in contact
    • Three of four would introduce more avenues for support
  • 13. Findings: Social Support Valuation AS Group
    • Generally appreciated the socially supportive student relationship
    • Four in touch or planning to stay in touch
    • Four students would introduce more avenues of support
  • 14. Findings: Social Support Valuation ES Group
    • Enthusiastically valued
    • All still in touch or plan to be in touch
    • Meet in person
    • Three students would introduce more avenues of support
  • 15. Conclusions and Interpretation: So What?
    • Students were able to describe supportive experiences without realizing they existed
    • Three different experiential groups
    • Social support manifestation
      • The three groups provide a structure for understanding peer social support
      • Students did not look for social support or online companionship
    • Social support description
      • Assess up front how students might respond to socially supportive peers
      • Build opportunities for socially supportive interactions
    • Social support valuation
      • Introduce more opportunities for social support

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