Development and Validation of the Sense of Online Community Scale


This study focused on the development and validation of the Sense of Online Community Scale (SOCS), which includes 28 Likert-type scale items across six subscales: (a) program community, (b) program academic activities, (c) program social activities, (d) institutional academic activities, (e) institutional social activities, and (f) affiliation. The validation process included an implementation with 293 learners enrolled in online programs at a higher education institution in the eastern United States. The model was evaluated with and without outliers, and results show that the model aligned well with the SOCS. The means of all items except one exceeded 3.5 on a 5.0 scale, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Time in an online program was not a statistically significant predictor of the validation model, though most of our participants were in the first or second year of their degree programs. Findings demonstrate that the SOCS is a reliable and valid instrument that other researchers may use to investigate community in online environments on both the program and the institutional level.


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confirmatory factor analysis, higher education, online community, online learning, online students


Shepherd, C.E., Bolliger, D.U., & McKim, C.. 2023. Development and Validation of the Sense of Online Community Scale. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 24(4).