Hilary Schmidt is currently completing her thesis in AU’s Master of Education in Open, Digital, and Distance Education program. She is a learning and development lead with CapitalCare, one of Canada’s largest public-sector long-term care organizations, and a former postsecondary educator. Her area of research is survivors of complex trauma as adult online learners. Previous peer-reviewed academic publications include two articles examining female pioneers of online learning (Starr Roxanne Hiltz and Christine von Prummer).
Title: Survivors of Complex Trauma as Adult Online Learners: A Case Study
Abstract: Numerous studies have demonstrated the relationship between complex trauma (trauma that is prolonged or repetitive, of an extremely threatening or horrific nature, and difficult or impossible to escape) and an array of negative neurobiological and psychosocial outcomes across the lifespan, including detrimental educational impacts. However, despite increasing interest in trauma-informed educational practices, little research has been conducted on either higher or adult education or on online learning. In addition, researchers have largely ignored the perspectives of traumatized learners, contradicting one of the key principles of a trauma-informed approach. This study seeks to redress these gaps by exploring the experience of adult online learners who are survivors of complex trauma. Specific research questions include: 1. How do adult learners with a history of complex trauma experience online learning, and what are their unique needs in this environment? 2. What do these learners find most and least helpful to their learning? 3. What element or elements of established trauma-informed educational practice are most important to these learners? 4. How would learners like to see these implemented? A qualitative instrumental collective case study design, following initial screening with the Adverse Childhood Experiences International Questionnaire (ACE-IQ), is used to explore these questions. Results will provide insight into the experiences, perceptions, and needs of adult online learners who have experienced complex trauma. The research positions these learners as experts and may assist online adult and higher educational institutions in both avoiding unnecessary harm to and providing a superior learning experience for this population.