Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development

Committee Chair

Shuyan Wang

Committee Chair School

Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development

Committee Member 2

Jonathan Beedle

Committee Member 2 School

Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development

Committee Member 3

Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 School



As enrollment in online courses continues to climb, technology also continues to advance to provide students with course designs that promote optimal learning environments. New communication tools continually evolve that help improve learning outcomes in online course designs. The lack of physical class meetings in online classes necessitates a comprehensive focus on course design to optimize learning, including a focus on communication and collaboration opportunities.

Much of the available current research regarding the outcomes of increased online learning investigates the effectiveness of this learning format primarily in the fields of healthcare, foreign language, and the study of English grammar as a second language. Although an abundance of literature exists analyzing online learning and online language learning, research focusing on students learning English grammar and punctuation in technical programs via online class formats was lacking.

A quantitative research method utilizing descriptive statistics, specifically a correlation design, was used for addressing the research questions. A quantitative method was used because the phenomenon of interest could be analyzed objectively. Quantitative analyses utilized the collected numerical data to help explain the relationship between the course design that students chose and their abilities to comprehend and apply English grammar and punctuation based on the technology provided in the course design. In addition, data collected and analyzed using quantitative methods allowed the results to be generalized to a larger population, thus benefitting other educators who teach English grammar and punctuation in online formats.

The statistical tests generated to answer the research questions were successful in providing useful information concerning the effectiveness of the technology used in the course design that was implemented in both class formats. The course design focused on 16 essential elements of communication and was found to be more effective in traditional face-to-face formats of the class. Effectiveness was measured by students’ abilities to write grammatically correct paragraphs and by final earned course grades. Traditional students were more likely to learn and effectively apply the 16 essential elements of communication to written paragraphs. Online students appeared to learn the 16 essential elements but had difficulty applying the elements to written communication.