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Factors Associated with Sense of Community Among Allied Health Students

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Over the last decade, there has been a substantial increase in online education in the health professions, as well as growing recognition that teamwork and collaboration are essential to success. While the impact of students' sense of community on factors such as course satisfaction and retention has been studied among college enrollees in general, there is little research exploring this concept among allied health students. To address this shortcoming, a convenience sample of students enrolled in a large northeastern school of health-related professions was surveyed to gather information on their demographics, curriculum and selected course attributes, perceived instructor teaching perspectives, and sense of community. Univariate analysis indicated that entry-level students experienced a greater sense of community than post-professional students. Multivariate analysis revealed that instructordetermined factors of encouraging discussion, encouraging expression of opinions, and specifying response times best predicted sense of community. With all other variables controlled, perceptions of community were significantly lower in online courses, among students for whom English was their second language, and in courses where instructors were perceived as focused primarily on content delivery. This study supports promoting selected course and instructor-related attributes associated with sense of community in allied health education, with a particular focus on both non-native English speakers and post-professional students. Enhancement of online courses with strategies that increase instructor presence, better engage students, and facilitate interaction also are warranted.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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  • The Journal of Allied Health is the official publication of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). The Journal is the only interdisciplinary allied health periodical, publishing scholarly works related to research and development, feature articles, research abstracts and book reviews. Readers of the Journal comprise allied health leaders, educators, faculty and students.
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