Online learning plays an increasingly important role in community college education. However, evidence has shown that online learning can be a challenge, especially in mathematics, and students are not performing as well in online classes as they are in face-to-face formats. In addition, the online environment can be isolating and lonely, with little opportunity for interaction and group work with fellow students. With the increased demand for online mathematics courses at the community college level, it has become imperative that two-year colleges find ways to increase online student success while simultaneously fostering interaction, collaboration and community. This study focused on embedding required synchronous group work sessions using rich web conferencing tools as a potential solution to these challenges. Through a quasi-experimental design, the goal was to determine the impact of these synchronous group work sessions on students’ academic success and sense of community in online college-level mathematics courses at two Midwestern community colleges. It was hypothesized that these synchronous sessions would increase academic success as well as build classroom community. However, results could not confirm an increase in formative scores, summative scores or sense of community due to the synchronous group work sessions. Only College Algebra experienced a medium effect of treatment on sense of community. Small positive correlations were shown to exist between sense of community and formative and summative scores. Further research with larger samples and greater control of preexisting student differences could clarify the potential of synchronous group work in the online college-level mathematics course.


Jason Kaufman

Committee Member

Carrie Miller

Committee Member

Anne Weyandt

Date of Degree




Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership





Rights Statement

In Copyright