Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Nicholas Michelli

Committee Members

Stephen Brier

Terrie Epstein

Subject Categories

Higher Education | Online and Distance Education


online learning, online education, distance education, community colleges, equity


Online education at community colleges has the potential to further democratize education by expanding access through the availability of anytime/anywhere courses for people who might be unable to attend college otherwise. However, the literature reveals the existence of performance gaps between online and face-to-face courses at community colleges, ones that can have negative consequences on the upward mobility of its diverse student population. This study investigates such a trend at one urban university. The study shows complexities in the relationship between online learning at community colleges through a mixed methods study of online performance at a community college. The findings indicate that inequitable outcomes exist for some online learners, particularly along racial lines, with student of color not performing as well as white students. The implications from these disparities are explored, and examples of equitable online educational policies and practices at community colleges suggested.