Beyond Content: The Value of Instructor-Student Connections in the Online Classroom

Main Article Content

B. Jean Mandernach
Sarah Nicole Robertson
John Paul Steele


Research clearly establishes the value of online education to foster students’ cognitive understanding of course material. However, engagement in the learning experience requires more than mere acquisition of new knowledge; to be fully engaged in the learning process, students must also connect with their peers and instructor in a meaningful way. The purpose of this study is to examine the value of instructor-personalized audio lectures as means of fostering students’ engagement with course content and the online learning experience. Qualitative data on the student experience found that instructor-personalized audio lectures enhanced students’ perceptions of value and engagement; quantitative data using a standardized engagement measure revealed no significant differences. Students’ qualitative feedback about their online learning experience indicated that instructor-personalized audio lectures fostered greater student-instructor connections and significantly impacted the likelihood of students’ engaging with course material. Recognizing the value of student engagement for ongoing satisfaction and retention in online learning programs, findings suggest that the creation of personalized audio lectures provides an efficient and effective means for faculty to positively impact students’ online learning experience.  


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How to Cite
Mandernach, B. J., Robertson, S. N., & Steele, J. P. (2018). Beyond Content: The Value of Instructor-Student Connections in the Online Classroom. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 18(4).
Author Biographies

B. Jean Mandernach, Grand Canyon University

B. Jean Mandernach, Ph.D 

Executive Director of the Center for Innovation and Research in Teaching

Grand Canyon University CIRT Office

3300 W. Camelback Rd.

Phoenix, AZ 85017


Sarah Nicole Robertson, Grand Canyon University

Sarah Robertson, M. Ed

Online Full Time Faculty College of Humanities Social Sciences

Grand Canyon University

2411 W. Peoria Ave Suite 300

Phoenix, AZ 85029



John Paul Steele, Grand Canyon University

John Steele, M.Ed & MS/P (Corresponding Author)

Associate Professor

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Grand Canyon University

2411 W. Peoria Ave Suite 300

Phoenix, AZ 85029




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