Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 257–269 | Cite as

Undergraduate Student Socialization and Learning in an Online Professional Curriculum

  • Karri A. Holley
  • Barrett J. Taylor


Using data collected from a qualitative case study of an online baccalaureate nursing program, we examined the influence of online degree programs on undergraduate student socialization and learning. We considered how components of socialization—knowledge acquisition, investment, and involvement—are influenced by the online context. The findings suggest the importance of considering non-academic influences in regards to nontraditional student experiences. The theoretical intersection of online learning and undergraduate student development offers new and significant areas of research, specifically related to the pedagogical role of faculty and the impact of social engagement. Implications for future research and practice are offered.

Key words

online curriculum undergraduate student learning socialization 


  1. Aldrich, C. (2005). Learning by doing: A comprehensive guide to simulations, computer games, and pedagogy in e-learning. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  2. Alexander, S., & Boud, D. (2001). Learners still learn from experience when online. In J. Stephenson (Ed.), Teaching and learning online: Pedagogies for new technologies (pp. 3–15). Sterling, VA: Routledge/Stylus Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. S. (2006). Making the grade: Online education in the United States. Needham, MA: SLOAN-C.Google Scholar
  4. Bean, J., & Metzner, B. (1985). A conceptual model of nontraditional undergraduate student attrition. Review of Educational Research, 55(4), 485–540.Google Scholar
  5. Boaler, J. (2000). Exploring situated insights into research and learning. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 39(1), 113–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cobb, P., & Bowers, J. (1999). Cognitive and situated learning perspectives in theory and practice. Educational Researcher, 28(2), 4–15.Google Scholar
  7. Donaldson, J., & Graham, S. (1999). A model of college outcomes for adults. Adult Education Quarterly, 50(1), 24–40.Google Scholar
  8. Eisenhart, M., & Howe, K. (1992). Validity in educational research. In M. LeCompte, W. Millroy, & J. Preissle (Eds.), The handbook of qualitative research in education (pp. 642–680). San Diego, CA: Academic.Google Scholar
  9. Goetz, J. P., & LeCompte, M. D. (1984). Ethnography and qualitative design in educational research. Orlando, FL: Academic.Google Scholar
  10. Graham, S., & Gisi, S. (2000). Adult undergraduate students: What role does college involvement play? NASPA Journal, 38(1), 99–121.Google Scholar
  11. Hagedorn, L. (2005, Jan/Feb). Square pegs: Adult students and their “fit” in postsecondary institutions. Change, 37, 22–29.Google Scholar
  12. Hatch, J. A. (2002). Doing qualitative research in education settings. Ithaca, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hill, J. (2006). Flexible learning environments: Leveraging the affordances of flexible delivery and flexible learning. Innovative Higher Education, 31(3), 187–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Justice, E., & Dornan, T. (2001). Metacognitive differences between traditional-age and nontraditional-age college students. Adult Education Quarterly, 51(3), 236–249.Google Scholar
  15. Kasworm, C. (2003). Adult meaning making in the undergraduate classroom. Adult Education Quarterly, 53(2), 81–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Lincoln, Y., & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Mann, C., & Stewart, F. (2000). Internet communication and qualitative research: A handbook for researching online. London, England: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. McCombs, B., & Vakili, D. (2005). A learner-centered framework for e-learning. Teachers College Record, 107(8), 1582–1600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Miles, M., & Huberman, A. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  22. Richardson, J., & Newby, T. (2006). The role of students’ cognitive engagement in online learning. American Journal of Distance Education, 20(1), 23–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Summers, J., Waigandt, A., & Whittaker, T. (2005). A comparison of student achievement and satisfaction in an online versus a traditional face to face statistics class. Innovative Higher Education, 29(3), 233–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Weidman, J. (1989). Undergraduate socialization: A conceptual approach. In J. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research, V, (pp. 289–322). New York, NY: Agathon.Google Scholar
  26. Weidman, J., Twale, D., & Stein, E. (2001). Socialization of graduate and professional students in higher education: A perilous passage? ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, 28. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  27. Wyatt, G. (2005). Satisfaction, academic rigor and interaction: Perceptions of online instruction. Education, 125, 460–468.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  2. 2.Meigs Hall, University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations