Date of Award

1-11-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Frank Corbett, Jr., Ed.D.

Second Advisor

DeAnna Laverick, D.Ed.

Third Advisor

Kelly Heider, D.Ed.

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Loomis

Abstract

This mixed-method study identifies cyber high school graduates' perceptions of the effect of a cyber high school education on successful transition to a traditional university. The study examined students’ perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages their cyber education experience contributed to their academic and social transition to college. In addition, the level of involvement of cyber high school graduates in university-based social activities was compared to the similar involvement of their university peers. The study was conducted at four universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The analyses of quantitative data from a survey of 32 cyber high school graduates’ academic self-efficacy showed that cyber high school graduates believed they had the academic abilities to succeed in college. Responses from participants for select questions from the 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement were compared to responses by a representative sample of the general student population at study sites to the same questions. Results indicated that involvement of cyber high school graduates in university-based social activities was not significantly different than the involvement of their university peers. Qualitative analysis was applied to data from focus group interviews involving 14 cyber high school graduates. Findings revealed that unique features of cyber education, particularly related to pace and learner independence, had an effect on cyber high school graduates’ early college experiences. Negative academic transition experiences resulted from adjustments to a loss of control over the flexibility and pace of their learning. Negative social transition experiences resulted from the increased daily interactions with peers that cyber graduates did not have during their cyber high school experiences. However, students reported more positive than negative effects. The majority of students believed their cyber education adequately prepared them for transition to college. Participants perceived they gained academic skills in cyber high school which enabled successful transition. They also believed themselves to be socially welladjusted.

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