Nursing Students’ Perceptions of a Caring Presence From Faculty Through Electronic Correspondence in Online RN-BSN Programs: A Qualitative Descriptive Study

Date of Award

Fall 11-26-2019

Document Type

Restricted Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Derrick Tennial, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Jaques Singleton, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Dana Shelton, Ph.D.


U.S. technological advances and the demand for more baccalaureate-prepared nurses have caused an increase in online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) programs. However, these programs are facing a challenge relative to the electronic disconnect. To meet the demand for more baccalaureate-prepared nurses and to improve learning outcomes, online nursing faculty must learn to demonstrate a caring presence through electronic correspondence. The research question for this qualitative descriptive study is: How do online nursing students describe a caring presence from faculty in electronic correspondence in online RN-BSN programs? The study used a qualitative methodology with a qualitative descriptive study design. The primary sources of data were an electronic questionnaire, semistructured interviews, and focus group discussions. Four themes were uncovered that provided qualitative answers to the research question. The data reveal that faculty who provide individualized student support demonstrate a caring presence. Students experience care from faculty when the latter develop professional relationships through electronic correspondence. Students say they achieve greater course success when faculty are described as nurturing as opposed to unapproachable. Lastly, online RN-BSN students have differing opinions about emojis but share the perspective that online faculty must be consistent when replying to emails. The results are relevant to nursing educators and higher education administration for the improvement of communication practice, student retention, and academic success. This study has provided the first steps in establishing best practices in online RN-BSN programs’ faculty–student electronic correspondence.

This document is currently not available here.