Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

William Young, Ed.D.

Committee Member

William Blank, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rosemary Closson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane Jorgenson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey Kromrey, Ph.D.


Adult learning, Andragogy, Digital divide, Distance learning, Polyrhythmics


A need exists to gain a better understanding of how the online learning environment found in higher education is perceived by students of color. The research completed for this dissertation explored student participation in the online learning environment in higher education by examining the observations and perceptions of students of color. Along the way, the process of the research journey drew attention to the lack of inclusion of students of color in the literature and data collected about online learning, and pointed to the existence of the digital divide and its impact on graduate students of color and their participation in online learning. In this study, no significant relationships were found in the examination of the nature of the relationship between ethnicity and the variables of gender, age, and self-reported computer experience. The online learning environment was not conclusively found to be an environment where opinions or critiques could be expressed more easily than in a face to face classroom, and the importance to students of having the opportunity to challenge white norms in the online learning environment was not found to be significant. Advice is offered from students and instructors of color providing examples of ways in which an online course environment may more fully consider the voices and experiences of persons of color.