Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Committee Member

Neal Strudler

Number of Pages



The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate how a community was constructed in a postsecondary distance education class that relied only on computer-mediated communications. The use of a social constructionist perspective with Interactional Ethnography provided a theoretical and methodological means to make visible how the actions and interactions of the class members constructed their community. This study was built on and expanded qualitative research in K--12 traditional classrooms, which provided a lens with which to view the processes that shaped on-line community development. Past research has used ethnography and discourse analysis to investigate how traditional classroom participants' interactions over time constructed a unique social culture and how this culture influenced student learning; Interactional Ethnography made visible in-the-moment and over-time development of the community characteristics by the members' actions and interactions by employing ethnographic analysis to identify what characteristics developed over the semester, and sociolinguistic analysis to reveal how these characteristics were developed; Data sources from this sixteen-week on-line Survey of Literature course included class web pages, student survey responses, debriefing questionnaire responses, and electronic transcripts of instructor-student e-mail, class listserv communications, and class Multi-user Domain, Object Oriented (MOO) discussions; Findings revealed that actions and interactions of class members constructed common understandings of norms and expectations, roles and relationships, and the meaning of words, actions, and objects of the classroom. They compensated for the lack of face-to-face conversational cues by using techniques such as emotes, exaggerated spelling, and acronyms; Both on-task and off-task sharing of thoughts, feelings, knowledge, and experiences were important in constructing the on-line community and providing students with opportunities for learning both social and academic content. This intertextual and intercontextual use of resources demonstrated the historical dimension of community construction and potentially helped to decrease feelings of isolation and build rapport among the community members; This study provides practical examples of on-line instructional design and student-centered pedagogical techniques. It also supports the premise that class members construct community characteristics and opportunities for learning through their actions and interactions.


Building; Class; Classroom; Classroom Culture; Community; Construction; Culture; Distance Education; Education; Postsecondary; Postsecondary Education; Virtual Classroom

Controlled Subject

Educational technology; Curriculum planning

File Format


File Size

8499.2 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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