Organization, Information and Learning Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 3-28-2017


The purpose of this single case study was to examine the relationship between online students’ use of support services and their feelings of mattering using a convergent parallel research design to collect quantitative and qualitative data. Students enrolled exclusively in online classes during the academic year 2015-2016 at the University of New Mexico (UNM) were invited to participate. The survey was based on the theoretical and conceptual frameworks for comprehensive services and mattering theory. Responses provided descriptive statistics and correlation analysis with stories that added to the description of students’ service experiences.

Service-to-service correlations showed correlation strength of moderate, strong, or very strong. Services-to-mattering correlations showed nine services moderately or strongly positively correlated with students’ feelings of mattering: Academic Advising, Academic Counseling, Institution-to-Student communications, Placement Services, Ethical & Legal Services, Orientation, Personal Counseling, Career Services, and Retention Services. These nine services tend to function as relationship-style interactions. Qualitative responses indicate that students view their interactions without distinguishing them as service- or instruction-based interactions.

Four themes that emerged from this study offer insight into how UNM can relate to its online students through its service offerings and interactions. Students view their online experiences holistically, suggesting an integrated approach to service- and instruction-based interactions. By interacting in caring, helpful ways, and providing a personal touch through service interactions, UNM can provide an avenue for students to build community and connect with the institution and each other, supported and accessed through technology.

Degree Name

Organization, Information and Learning Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Organization, Information & Learning Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Mark Emmons

Second Committee Member

Charlotte Gunawardena

Third Committee Member

Alicia Chavez

Fourth Committee Member

Nancy Middlebrook




mattering, services, online support, college students, online students, correlation analysis

Document Type