Background: Expectations that students should request assistance from teachers when needed, a set of classroom behaviors termed “help-seeking,” have the potential to contribute to inequitable access to quality learning experiences in traditional classroom settings.
Purpose: This study extends current literature by mapping the nature of help-seeking interactions between students and teachers in online high school credit-recovery classrooms, where the implications of help-seeking have yet to be examined systemically.
Research Design: Drawing on qualitative and quantitative analysis of data collected from the 2014–2015 through 2016–2017 school years in a large, urban school district serving predominantly low-income student of color, we identify patterns in these interactions and their implications for disparities in academic opportunities.
Findings: We find that few of the high school students enrolled in online credit-recovery courses had access to consistent, constructive interactions in instructional spaces, even though most students required instructor support to obtain full access to the learning environment. Our observations point to disparate access to quality educational experiences in online credit-recovery labs that mirror those documented by others in traditional classroom settings.
Conclusions: Based on these findings, we identify strategies to support more equitable learning in online courses including explicit expectations and proactive assistance to students as well as the use of real-time data by teachers, lower student-teacher ratios, and assigning teachers certified in course subjects to improve educational quality.