Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



Committee Chair

Andrew Tawfik

Committee Member

Craig Shepherd

Committee Member

Maria Hubbard

Committee Member

Logan Caldwell


Psychological safety describes the perception of the consequence of interpersonal risk when interacting. Psychological safety is associated with improved engagement in learning behaviors in work groups and classrooms. However, little is known about the influence of psychological safety in the context of learner-learner interactions during health professional online learning. This qualitative single case study explored the influence of psychological safety on the learner-learner interactions of a cohort of occupational therapy students in an online class. Ten occupational therapy students and the instructor were interviewed about their experience of psychological safety when interacting with peers in an online class, and documents related to learner-learner interactions were collected. The resulting themes of this study described the feelings associated with different forms of interactions requiring psychological safety: being vulnerable, fear of being misunderstood, need to protect/protection, and group cohesion. Within these themes, this study described the contextual elements associated with online learning in healthcare professions and their impact on psychological safety during learner-learner interactions. Additionally, students reported interactional behaviors associated with psychological safety in online learning. Information from this study expands the knowledge of psychological safety in a new context and confirms the importance of psychological safety during high-stakes learner-learner interactions in an online environment. Information from this study could inform online learning instructors as to what signals psychological safety and suggests ways to build psychological safety into online learning courses.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access