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Moreover, this paper will provide recommendations for integrating effective online communication into programming and instruction to increase student connectivity, engagement, and retention.Faculty and student data/feedback collected from Drexel University’s online Master of Science in Higher Education Program will be shared to highlight the importance of effective communication in online education.Since this publication, Trenholm (2008) states that communication scholars have been busy adding to the Dance and Larson list of communication definitions.Yet, while scholars have made attempts to define communication, Littlejohn and Foss (2005) note that “establishing a single definition has proved impossible” (p. Recognizing the inherent challenge presented by identifying a single definition for communication that is universally accepted, this paper will build upon human communication research and communication as a “process.” Tubbs and Moss (2006) state that “since human communication is an intangible, ever-changing process, many people find it helpful to use a tangible model to describe that process” (p. There are extensive types of communication models that exist within the literature including Shannon-Weaver, Osgood & Schramm Circular Model, Gerbner’s General Model, etc.According to Tinto (1975, 1982, and 2006), “Frequency and quality of contact with faculty, staff, and students has repeatedly been shown to be an predictor of student persistence” (p. Additional research by Chickering and Gamson (1987) reveals that knowing faculty and faculty concern assist students get through challenging times and enhance a student’s intellectual commitment.It is through human communication and interaction that students are able to connect with faculty.Hence, there may be limited or no face-to-face communication and interaction throughout a student’s enrollment.Therefore, it is important that administrators integrate communication theory and methods into training and professional development for online faculty.
In 1976, Dance and Larson identified 126 definitions for communication in .
In fact, student data collected through annual surveys by Drexel University’s online Master of Science in Higher Education Program (MSHE) indicates the more personalized the online educational environment is for students, the more likely students will be engaged throughout their courses and stay connected as alumni.
Recognizing there are inherent differences between traditional and online environments, administrators and faculty must understand the importance of integrating effective communication strategies into online program development, course design, and instruction to engage, connect, and retain students.
As indicated by Lorenzetti (2003), Faculty members are one of the most critical hires that you have to make in your online program.
While traditional, on-campus students form an impression of your institution based on factors from physical plant to extracurricular activities, the one face that often represents your entire institution to online students is the instructor. 1) Faculty play a critical role in student engagement and retention.