Vol. 28 No. 1 (2014)
Research Articles

Graduate Student Experiences On- and Off-campus: Social Connectedness and Perceived Isolation

Tracy Anne Irani
University of Florida
Sandra Barbour Wilson
University of Florida
Deidra Lynn Slough
University of Florida
Mark Rieger
University of Delaware

Published 2014-04-02


  • Distance education,
  • Connectedness,
  • Social Isolation,
  • Mixed methods,
  • Off-campus learning,
  • Engagement
  • ...More

How to Cite

Irani, T. A., Wilson, S. B., Slough, D. L., & Rieger, M. (2014). Graduate Student Experiences On- and Off-campus: Social Connectedness and Perceived Isolation. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education Revue Internationale Du E-Learning Et La Formation à Distance, 28(1). Retrieved from https://ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/856


This paper discusses findings of a study investigating graduate student experiences on- and off-campus among all departments within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Florida, a large public land grant institution with a mix of on-campus, off-campus and online distance-delivered graduate academic programs. The investigation utilized a mixed methods approach where a series of focus groups were conducted with students, faculty, graduate advisors and administrators to gain insight into the differences graduate students experience in traditional and non-traditional learning environments. Focus groups findings were used to develop an online survey that examined connectedness and social isolation perceptions of on- and off-campus students. The results of the survey support the hypothesis that off-campus students are less connected to their home departments and feel a greater sense of social isolation than on-campus students. A major implication of this study is the ongoing need for institutions engaged in distance education academic programs to commit to exploring and implementing practical applications designed to fully address connectedness and social presence issues among the students they seek to serve.


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