Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award



Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Tara Hornor

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Karri Adams

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Joe Cardot


Institutions of higher education are experiencing an increasing number of students enrolling in online or distance education courses. The majority of these students are adult learners. The increase in enrollment is beneficial to institutions of higher education, but it is overshadowed by the low degree completion rate for online and distance education learners. Academic advisors play a crucial role in guiding students to degree completion. While there has been research on the potential contributing factors in online and distance education student retention, the research has been lacking in how communications with academic advisors may influence students’ levels of self-efficacy. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine the perceptions of online and distance education adult learners’ interactions with their academic advisors and how these interactions influenced their level of self-efficacy and persistence to degree completion. The researcher conducted semistructured interviews with current and recent graduates of an online or distance education program. Semistructured interviews were also conducted with current academic advisors of online and distance education students. The data revealed that interactions with academic advisors played a vital role in students’ levels of self-efficacy. Three key themes emerged from the data as contributing factors to student self-efficacy and their interactions with academic advisors: Communication-Immediacy/Individualized Advisement, Relationships-Sense of Community, and Academic Advisor Influence-Student Self-Efficacy. Developing a greater focus in these areas of academic advisement for online and distance education students may assist in increasing online and distance education student retention.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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