Exploring participation of graduate students in an online course: Did this participation result in identity construction?

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy in Education


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


This embedded, single- case study was employed to explore eight graduate students’ experience in an online course and the resultant transformation of their online learner identities. The data was collected at a private nursing school in Karachi, Pakistan. Multiple data sources were interpreted and triangulated to present the case of online participation using Wenger’s (1998) ‘Community of Practice’ as theoretical lens. The embedded units of analysis were depicted by very active and moderately active participants of the online course. The study found that the participants developed a sufficient body of knowledge together by sharing critical reflections. Very active participants of this course were confident to reconcile this knowledge and perform efficiently when they face recurring problems at their workplace. While the moderately active participants attributed their low participation in the online course to their part-time work commitments, inconsistent internet connection being located at remote geographical places and low motivation in online learning. Participants also highlighted the need of face-to-face interaction for change in behavior of interaction and establishing long-term social and professional relationships. Similarly, participants acknowledged ‘clinical practice’ as the best opportunity to establish social and professional relationships. The participants were consistently challenged by minimal opportunities of social interactions during the online course. Moreover, the reasons for effective completion of this online course were credited to course facilitator’s active guidance, institution’s support in accessing this online course and their own emerging experiences. Finally, the study concluded that in an online course, learners’ identity could be further strengthened by forming a student -student interaction platform for informal social discussions and by providing opportunities of practical exposure. In the end, pragmatic implications for course designers, policy makers and future researchers are shared.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library