Organization, Information and Learning Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



There is a need for a better understanding of persistence in online environments from a positive perspective. The appreciative inquiry (AI) model challenges the traditional problem based paradigm with an affirmative approach to embrace challenges in a positive light. This study uses an appreciative inquiry approach to grounded theory analysis to study online learning persistence and success. The purpose of this qualitative grounded theory study was: 1) to discover the themes and factors that emerge from an appreciative inquiry of online learner persistence; 2) to identify the meaning of persistence for online students; 3) to create provocative propositions of the construct of learning persistence and success in online courses, and 4) to generate a theory of learning persistence and success in online courses. Through face-to-face and online interviews, thirty students in five online courses at Central New Mexico Community College participated in the study which led to identifying three categories, eight themes and thirty-six learning persistence and success factors. A new understanding of persistence as a multigenerational and life situational phenomenon arose from the data. Five propositions are presented. They are the following: 1. Online learning persistence commences when the motivations, values and expectations encounter access to online courses. 2. The opportunity for higher engaged learning in online classes is created when students' best practices of organization, interaction and responsibility intersect with faculty's best practices of timely interactions and flexible course structure. 3. Learning persistence and success increases for all students when the online course design includes multigenerational and situational perspectives. 4. Continuous learning persistence and success in online courses is transformational. 5. Appreciative inquiry interviews could positively affect student grades and persistence in the online class. An Appreciative Paradigm of Online Learning Persistence and Success Model was created to provide a comprehensive picture of the categories, themes and factors that support learning persistence and success. The study offers a comprehensive powerful model which designers, instructors and students can use for higher engagement and transformational learning in online courses. It offers an appreciative paradigm of online persistence and online transformational learning processes.

Degree Name

Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology

Level of Degree


Department Name

Organization, Information & Learning Sciences

First Advisor

Gunawardena, Lani

First Committee Member (Chair)

LaPointe, Deborah

Second Committee Member

Whitney, Diana

Third Committee Member

Champoux, Joe

Fourth Committee Member

Boverie, Patsy




Internet in education--Evaluation, Distance education--Evaluation, Computer-assisted instruction--Evaluation, Appreciative inquiry

Document Type



Dissertation in defense of Ph.D in OLIT