Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Dr. Diane C. Hatton, Chair; Dr. Linda Robinson; Dr. Jerome Ammer


higher education, nursing, nursing students, online nursing course


Online web-based course offerings are now common in many institutions of higher education In response to the current and severe nursing shortage, estimated to represent a 20% vacancy rate by the year 2015, (Tarkin, 2003) many more universities have created online nursing courses for registered nurses wishing to continue their education in nursing. The National League for Nursing (NLN) set research priorities that urged exploration of the impact that technology has on the content and nature of teaching and learning in nursing education (1999). Using a series of separate synchronous, online focus groups and 1:1 interviews with nurse educator experts and online nursing students, this qualitative study explored the meaning of 'presence' in online nursing courses. This study examined how; (a) nurse educators conveyed being present to students in online classrooms, (b) online students interacted with peers and faculty in the online classroom, and (c) and if, nurse educators used strategies with their online students that urged development of ways of being present with patients' in disembodied environments. A grounded theory approach was used to develop the Theory of Connecting/Being Present in Online Nursing Courses. Conditions or antecedents are identified. The core category of connecting is highlighted along with four key dimensions of connecting. Consequences include situations that stem from making the connection with others or not making a connection with others and shed light on both pedagogical concerns and future patient care issues. Future research implications include implementing other innovative qualitative designs that would add to the theory, such as participant observation in online courses. Studies addressing gender differences and learning styles would add to this growing body of knowledge. Extending the work to examine presence in disembodied places is valuable future work as nurses carry out therapeutic interventions with patients in disembodied environments of care.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons