Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business

First Advisor

Craig Johnson

Second Advisor

Paul Shelton

Third Advisor

Patricia Neely


This research explores business students’ perceptions of connectedness with their online instructors in higher education. The results were analyzed to discover the basic constructs of these perceptions. The findings will help faculty understand how they can improve their connection with students in an online environment in an effort to form stronger relationships with students and better their teaching practice. Students across multiple sections of introductory level business courses at Portland Community College were asked to participate in this qualitative study. Narrative research methods were used to best understand the complexities of the students’ lived experiences. Journey maps and interviews were used together to tell the stories of how students experienced connectedness with their instructors. This was an attempt to help the instructors understand what students perceive as good or bad connections, as well as factors that form connection with their online instructors. Basic principles of connection were mentioned: consistent and personalized communication, the instructor’s availability, thorough feedback on assignments and discussions, feeling of care from the instructor, and flexibility in the course. Participants in the study reported that creating a connection with their instructor was important and that was most inherent in the relationship developed with their instructor. The findings suggest that instructors who provide personalized feedback to students consistently throughout the course create an environment that is motivating for students and one in which students are more comfortable asking questions. As a result, students perceive greater care.