Scholarship Spotlight: James Taylor

By Michael Berger, EdD
Dean, College of Doctoral Studies

Posted on September 16, 2015  in  [ Doctoral Journey ]

Welcome to our first Scholarship Spotlight! Our Scholarship Spotlights highlight dissertations, scholarly articles and presentations from learners in Grand Canyon University’s College of Doctoral Studies.

We are going to start with a dissertation from one of our alumni, James Taylor. Dr. Taylor graduated from GCU’s Doctor of Education (EdD) in organizational leadership program.

The online classroom is no foreign territory to GCU. With our expansive online courses and engaging online platforms, GCU is leading the way in online education.

The success of online students in a virtual classroom is still in the beginning stages of intrigue and research. The varying factors of what goes into an online classroom setting need to be delved into and looked at with a critical eye.

Dr. Taylor took that in-depth look into the success of online course delivery in comparison to traditional campus students.

Taking from a sample of 205 undergraduate environmental science students, Dr. Taylor’s study showed that there was differences between the verbal commitment and emotional connection to the environment in traditional and online students.

The leaps and bounds that technology offers our constantly changing classroom environments, calls for research to further investigate the success of teaching tools and methods by educators.

Overall, this is a representative model for a well thought out, constructed and analyzed dissertation. The analysis aligned with research questions and data and was very thoroughly explained using the appropriate statistical analysis and language.

Congratulations, Dr. Taylor!

For more information about the programs in the College of Doctoral Studies, please contact us today!


As traditional educational efforts expand into the online environment, academic research is needed to determine if effective environmental education could be replicated in the virtual classroom in higher education. Although previous research showed that the online course delivery could be an effective means of teaching environmental facts, what had yet to be determined is if there was a significance difference in the development of an environmental literacy, represented by attitudes and behaviors between online and traditional campus students, at a university within the Western United States.

To read the full abstract and dissertation, please visit


Taylor, J. Y. (2014). Environmental literacy development: A comparison between online and traditional campus courses (Order No. 3665401). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ Grand Canyon University; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. (1640768823). Retrieved from here.

More about Dr. Berger:

Dr. Michael Berger has over a decade of experience in higher education and joined GCU in 2004. Dr. Berger participated in the teams that earned HLC accreditation for the current doctoral programs as head of curriculum design and development before moving to the College of Doctoral Studies in 2012. His dissertation focused on instructional techniques that online faculty can use to better connect with their students. He has presented at numerous regional and national conferences on the subjects of higher ed. assessment, online learning and virtual doctoral education. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from the University of Dayton and he received his doctorate in education from GCU. He started his doctoral program five days after his daughter was born, so he has experienced firsthand trying to simultaneously balance school, family and full-time employment.

About College of Doctoral Studies

Grand Canyon University’s innovative doctoral degree programs prepare learners for leadership roles in their professions, communities and society. Our dynamic online learning community, integrated dissertation process, wealth of resources and collaborative environment support a successful and meaningful doctoral journey. We believe earning a doctoral degree is a journey and similar to climbing a mountain—challenging, invigorating and completely rewarding when you reach the top. Our goal is to help you conquer your own mountain and succeed on your doctoral journey. Readers of The Doctoral Journey blog, presented by the College of Doctoral Studies, will find resourceful and knowledgeable posts regarding the doctoral process, research best practices and dissertation tips among other topics from GCU’s doctoral faculty.

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