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Perceptions of online learning experiences: Voices of African American women at a Historically Black College and University

, New Mexico State University, United States

New Mexico State University . Awarded


An increasing number of higher education learners are using online learning. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine non-traditional learners' perceptions and experiences of online learning at a public Historically Black College or University (HBCU). This study examined learners' interactivity with peers, teachers, administrators, content and technology and student support.

Six non-traditional African American women were interviewed on their perceptions of their online learning experiences. Freire's Liberation Pedagogy and Critical Race Theory as the theoretical frameworks were utilized to situate participants' voices and perceptions of online learning in a wider social, economic, and political context. Elicited themes were extracted via constant comparative method and the use of NVivo.

The participants had studied in the traditional classrooms at two or more higher education institutions. Students chose to study at HBCUs as their institutions because they could identify with peers and secured financial assistance.

Students indicated they had the freedom at the selected HBCU to express themselves, and their cultural/racial identity in the online environment. This freedom enabled learners to reflect, restructure their knowledge, collaborate and contribute different voices. Peers contributed to their learning. There was also evidence of social presence and cultural connection to HBCUs. Discussion boards were spaces where learners engaged with one another. Participants also indicated that administrative services that students encountered prior to entering the classes were poor. Completion of studies did not bring in immediate economic benefits for participants though had the potential for economic benefits.

Overall, students indicated that online learning provided more access and degree completion opportunities at an HBCU. All the non-traditional African American female participants at the public HBCU secured financial aid to study. This exploratory study could be considered a basis for additional investigation. Future research is suggested for a larger pool of African American online students of different genders from HBCUs to continue to study their interactivity with content and degree completion.


Yee Chief, I.M. Perceptions of online learning experiences: Voices of African American women at a Historically Black College and University. Ph.D. thesis, New Mexico State University. Retrieved October 17, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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