The psychosocial development experiences of adult learners enrolled in an online undergraduate degree program

2007 2007

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Abstract (summary)

The purpose of this grounded theory study was to explore the process of psychosocial development experienced by adult students participating in an entirely online undergraduate degree program from a four-year, accredited, Title IV authorized, public university. Psychosocial development theory examines individuals' personal and interpersonal lives (Erikson, 1997). As online learning enrollments were phenomenally growing (NCES, 2006), online educational institutions were attempting to transfer traditional campus based student services to an online environment (Kretovics, 2003). However, it was unclear if these efforts assisted the psychosocial development of adult students who complete their degree program entirely online. The literature in student development, adult learning, and distance education did not address this issue.

Eighteen participants were interviewed using an online and telephone interview protocol. This study found that all participants experienced some level of psychosocial development during their online degree program.

This study presented the resulting grounded theory using a set of six propositions. The propositions were as follows: (1) The majority of undergraduate adult students, age 21 or older, entering an online four-year degree program with no-face-to face contact of any kind do not believe it is important to build friendships with peers, (2) interaction within the classroom environment has a greater impact on a student's psychosocial development than interaction within the larger community of students, (3) the student's interaction with members of the external social network has a greater impact on a student's interpersonal development than the interaction that occurs with academic peers, (4) cognitive development has the greatest impact on a student's psychosocial development, (5) there is a positive correlation between a student's level of knowledge acquisition and increased self-confidence, and (6) by focusing on creating learning communities rather than a larger community of students, student services will be more cost effective for educational institutions in meeting the needs of the students.

Indexing (details)

Developmental psychology;
Educational software;
Higher education
0620: Developmental psychology
0710: Educational software
0745: Higher education
Identifier / keyword
Education; Psychology; Adult learners; Online; Psychosocial development; Undergraduate degree program
The psychosocial development experiences of adult learners enrolled in an online undergraduate degree program
Lupton, Natalie A.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 68/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Hoover, Richard E.
The University of Nebraska - Lincoln
University location
United States -- Nebraska
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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