Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing



First Committee Member

Lori Candella, Chair

Second Committee Member

Cheryl Bowles

Third Committee Member

Michelle Clark

Graduate Faculty Representative

Carolee Dodge-Francis

Number of Pages



The purpose of this research study was to generate a grounded theory regarding the patterns and perceptions of nursing faculty in the formation of social processes in an online course. Employing a grounded theory approach, this researcher built upon the theoretical concepts of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). The CoI model illustrates the inner workings of the educational experience. The model consists of three main components: social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence. These three elements overlap to demonstrate how each factor influences the other forms of presence. This study sought to better understand the overlap of social presence and teaching presence that the model authors distinguished as climate factors.

To explore the underpinnings of climate factors, this researcher interviewed online master's level nurse educators, observed their online courses, and examined their course syllabi for creation of social presence. From the data emerged a substantive theory: humanizing was found to be the climate factor central to establishing social presence. Humanizing the course climate leads each member of the community to see the other members as real, thus enabling the establishment of online social presence.

With the establishment of the core climate factor humanizing, there emerged theoretical concepts describing the patterns and perceptions of faculty initiating and maintaining online social presence. These theoretical concepts included faculty patterns: cyber role modeling, maintenance, and awareness. The faculty perceptions included: meaningful socialization, facilitate connections, and student control. Lastly, the faculty described a combination of pattern and perception, lifelines, to help students stay attached to the learning community.

These findings suggest that faculty found value in creating a climate where the individual was acknowledged and made a prominent center-point of the course. Implications of this research resonate with the CoI model. By having a greater understanding of this area within the model, researchers can begin to quantify the level of humanizing within a course and establish best practices of climate creation for an online course.


Nursing schools faculty attitudes; Nursing study and teaching; Online social networks


Education | Higher Education and Teaching | Nursing

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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