Social Work



Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Type of Paper/Work

Banded Dissertation


Advisor not provided.


Previous research has examined the influences of belonging and peer connection on student academic perseverance, with social connection positively influencing academic success and retention. Much of the previous research focused on traditional college-age students, not accounting for demographic shifts in who is applying to, and enrolling in, American universities. More women and more BIPOC students are enrolling in post-secondary programs. Additionally, more adult learners, also referred to as nontraditional students (older, working, parenting) are enrolling in postsecondary programs, including programs offered online. The availability of online programs continues to increase, partially in response to the growing number of nontraditional students needing greater program flexibility. Despite increasing enrollment, universities experience challenges in retaining online nontraditional students. Building on previous research, this Banded Dissertation explores the relationships between social location, role identity, and social connectedness for online nontraditional students. Three scholarships products were completed for the Banded Dissertation including: (a) a research-based manuscript exploring the relationship between online nontraditional student social location, role identity, sense of belonging, and academic perseverance, (b) a conceptual paper examining the use of culturally responsive teaching aligned with anti-racist and feminist teaching strategies to foster student belonging and boost retention in online social work programs, and (c) a conference eposter conceptualizing the use of culturally responsive teaching practices to foster greater inclusivity in online social work classrooms. Implications for online educational practice and enhancing retention are addressed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Available for download on Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Included in

Social Work Commons