Making the Graduate Research Students' Experience Real: A Case Study into the Management of Online Teaching and Learning Spaces

Concurrent Session 8
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

This presentation highlights recent research that evaluated strategies implemented to support and monitor online postgraduate research students. 


Dr. Rohan Jowallah has worked in education for over twenty years and has international experience, having taught in the Caribbean, England and USA. His teaching experience includes teaching online, face-to-face and blended modes of course delivery. He has taught at various levels: elementary school; middle school; high school and university. Rohan Jowallah holds an Ed.D. in Language and Literacy in Education from the University of Sheffield in England; ME.d. in Special Needs and Inclusion Studies from The Open University in England; BSc in Psychology from The Open University in England; Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education from the University of Wolverhamptom in England and ASc in Secondary Education from Bethlehem Moravian College in Jamaica and a certificate in Social Work from The University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies. Rohan has presented at several international conferences and has had several peer-reviewed publications. He also has a published book chapter and continues to develop work for publication. He has also been a reviewer of several international journals. Rohanís roles at UCF as an instructional designer includes assisting faculty as they transition into online teaching and learning. In addition, he has an active research agenda which focuses on online learning pedagogies, literacy and inclusion. He also works part-time as an adjunct for the University of Central Florida and The University of the West Indies Open Campus.

Extended Abstract


This presentation highlights recent research that evaluated strategies implemented to support and monitor postgraduate research students. The five main strategies employed were; (1) the use of a web-based ‘teaching-learning space’ to facilitate asynchronous and synchronous interactions between students and their supervisors, (2) the creation and implementation of specific documentation to support and monitor students’ progress, (3) the organisation and implementation of research seminars using web-conferencing tool (Blackboard Collaborate), (4) the implementation of focused online web-conference to address students' research needs, and (5) the implementation of WhatsApp to provide consistent support to students distributed  across the Caribbean.

This research framework was connected to Moore’s theory of transactional distance and social cognitive theory.  Participants were graduate students (n = 70).  Data was solicited from the participants in the form of a questionnaire. Data was also collected from students’ evaluations and discussion forums. The data shows that supporting and monitoring the online teaching and learning spaces will result in positive students’ experiences. 

The presenter will:

  • Disseminate the benefits of synchronous and asynchronous mode of communication for enhancing the research students’ learning experience.
  • Inform the attendees of the potential for using WhatsApp to provide consistent support for students in a distributed region.
  • Share with attendees documents created to track and monitor the students’ experience and progress.
  • Provide an overview of the structure of communication practices which are implemented to enhance graduate students’ experiences.

This presentation will be interactive and will include various use of multimedia. The presenters will also use questioning to facilitate feedback on the strategies presented. Attendees will be given the opportunity to listen to interactions between research students, and a research consultant who used WhatsApp to provide guidance and support to students.



  • Participants who attend this session will be given the opportunity to learn of one possible framework for supporting research students within a distributed online learning environment.     
  • Participants will also be given guidance and procedural documentation that can be included in online research courses to improve the students’ experience.
  • The session will also provide attendees with firsthand information on the support needed by the graduate student.   


Keywords: Online interaction, higher education, asynchronous and synchronous communication, WhatsApp, student experience, and support.