Facilitating help-seeking through student interactions in a WebCT online graduate study program
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This article discusses a qualitative research project that revealed how online health-care practitioners in a graduate studies program believe their primary source of help is other students in their class. The project was framed from a constructivist theoretical perspective and an action research approach. The participants were clinicians, such as advanced nurse practitioners, who graduated from a Master of Nursing or Master of Health Studies program offered exclusively through a WebCT online environment. The data sources included a program satisfaction survey, focus groups, and 10 individual audiotape-recorded and transcribed interviews. The data were collected over a 2 year period, analyzed for themes by two researchers, and confirmed with the participants through ongoing member-checking. The following four strategies to facilitate help-seeking interactions among online graduate study learners are presented: award marks for participation, encourage thoughtful, well-crafted introductions, create a coffee lounge, small group forums and private email within the course environment, and identify non-contributing students.