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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Dissertation: Campus only access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership



First Reader/Committee Chair

Jesunathadas, Joseph


The COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on higher education, forcing universities to close their campuses. In response to social distancing policies, millions of students in the United States shifted to online learning for over a year. This transition presented significant challenges, particularly for historically underrepresented groups such as Hispanic and first-generation students.

This study investigated the perspectives of Hispanic and first-generation students regarding online learning after a mandatory one-year campus shutdown. Specifically, the study aimed to evaluate if the online learning support provided by the university met the expectations of these specific groups. The research also examined potential differences across various academic colleges and assessed how certain factors affected these students' willingness to enroll in future online courses. The data for the study were gathered by faculty members at a public comprehensive university in Southern California, using a quantitative, non-experimental method. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to analyze the impact of the mandatory one-year online learning experience and the influence of academic college affiliation on students' perceptions of online learning conditions. Furthermore, multiple regression analyses were performed to determine how aspects like Flexibility, Performance Expectations, Effort Expectancy, and College affiliation shaped students' intentions to pursue online courses in the future.

The study revealed that both Hispanic and first-generation students demonstrated improved positive perceptions towards the facilitating conditions of online learning after the mandatory online learning period. There was no significant disparity in improvement across the various academic colleges, reflecting the uniform support provided by the office of technology to faculty and students in all colleges. The flexibility of course structure and grade-based performance expectations were identified as crucial factors influencing the future intentions of Hispanic and first-generation students to take online courses. Meanwhile, factors like effort expectancy and college affiliation exhibited minimal impact on their intentions.

The findings suggest that universities should continue increasing support for online courses across all academic colleges in the post-pandemic era. Online teaching has proven to be an effective approach to increase class capacity and to expedite students' graduation. Educational leaders might encourage students to take online courses by expanding flexible class models and improving the quality of these courses to meet students' performance expectations. It is also recommended to expand academic support services, technical supports and student activities online. Given the substantial overlap in demographics and shared perspectives between Hispanic and first-generation students, Hispanic Serving Institutions are advised to initiate and support educational equity programs specifically for first-generation students, taking into account students’ limited family support and cultural backgrounds.