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Toward a Complexity of Online Learning: Learners in Online First-Year Writing

, Department of Civil Engineering, 500 Pillsbury Drive S.E., University of Minnesota, United States ; , Department of Writing Studies, University of Minnesota, United States

Computers and Composition Volume 30, Number 4, ISSN 8755-4615 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


In response to the growing presence of online first-year writing courses, this paper describes a case study of two online first-year writing courses and addresses the questions: What do students in an online first-year writing course perceive as good study habits, and what helps them succeed? Data includes surveys, online discussions, course management statistics, and selected interviews. The study is supported by social cognitive theory described by psychologist Albert Bandura; this methodology allows for examination of internal, external, and behavioral characteristics of participating students. Results of the study indicate that students who rated themselves as making good use of study time also succeeded in the course. Insights from students include information about study activities, management of study time, access to technology, and attitudes about online courses. A surprising result of the study was that students did not consider communication with peers as a productive study activity, despite a deliberate attempt by instructors to build peer interaction into the course. Yet students also reported high levels of engagement and positive attitudes about online learning. The social cognitive lens provides helpful insights about these complex findings by examining the external, internal, and behavioral aspects of online first-year writing students in this study.


Rendahl, M. & Breuch, L.A.K. (2013). Toward a Complexity of Online Learning: Learners in Online First-Year Writing. Computers and Composition, 30(4), 297-314. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved October 20, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Computers and Composition on January 31, 2019. Computers and Composition is a publication of Elsevier.

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