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Developing learning community in online asynchronous college courses: The role of teaching presence

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Abstract

This paper builds on the model we have developed for creating quality online learning environments for higher education. In that model we argue that college-level online learning needs to reflect what we know about learning in general, what we understand about learning in higher-education contexts, and our emerging knowledge of learning in largely asynchronous online environments. Components of the model include a focus on learner roles, knowledge building, assessment, community, and various forms of "presence." In this paper we focus on two components—teaching presence and community—and review the rationale and benefits for an emphasis on community in online learning environments. We argue that learning is social in nature and that online learning environments can be designed to reflect and leverage the social nature of learning. We suggest that previous research points to the critical role that community can play in building and sustaining productive learning and that teaching presence, defined as the core roles of the online instructor, is among the most promising mechanism for developing online learning community. We present a multi-institutional study of 2,036 students across thirty-two different colleges that supports this claim and provides insight into the relationship between online learning community and teaching presence. Factor and regression analysis indicate a significant link between students' sense of learning community and their recognition of effective instructional design and directed facilitation on the part of their course instructors—and that student gender plays a small role in sense of learning community. We conclude with recommendations for online course design, pedagogy, and future research.
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
The Role of Teaching Presence
59
DEVELOPING LEARNING COMMUNITY IN
ONLINE ASYNCHRONOUS COLLEGE COURSES:
THE ROLE OF TEACHING PRESENCE
Peter Shea
Department of Educational Theory and Practice
and College of Computing and Information
University at Albany, State University of New York
Karen Swan
Research Center for Educational Technology
Kent State University
Chun Sau Li
School of Education
University at Albany, State University of New York
Alexandra Pickett
SUNY Learning Network
State University of New York
ABSTRACT
This paper builds on the model we have developed for creating quality online learning environments for
higher education. In that model we argue that college-level online learning needs to reflect what we know
about learning in general, what we understand about learning in higher-education contexts, and our
emerging knowledge of learning in largely asynchronous online environments. Components of the model
include a focus on learner roles, knowledge building, assessment, community, and various forms of
“presence.” In this paper we focus on two components—teaching presence and community—and review
the rationale and benefits for an emphasis on community in online learning environments. We argue that
learning is social in nature and that online learning environments can be designed to reflect and leverage
the social nature of learning. We suggest that previous research points to the critical role that community
can play in building and sustaining productive learning and that teaching presence, defined as the core
roles of the online instructor, is among the most promising mechanism for developing online learning
community. We present a multi-institutional study of 2,036 students across thirty-two different colleges
that supports this claim and provides insight into the relationship between online learning community and
teaching presence. Factor and regression analysis indicate a significant link between students’ sense of
learning community and their recognition of effective instructional design and directed facilitation on the
part of their course instructors—and that student gender plays a small role in sense of learning
community. We conclude with recommendations for online course design, pedagogy, and future research.
KEYWORDS
Online Teaching, Teaching Presence, Class Community, Social Learning, Learning Community
I. INTRODUCTION
Learning environments that are designed to leverage theoretically derived and research-based principles of
good practice emphasize the critical role that students play in succeeding in their academic endeavors. Such
learner-centered design reflects our current understanding of the social nature of learning and the importance
of community in promoting learning. It is widely agreed that learning is, in some fundamental sense, social in
nature [1]. Although wide diversity exists in social learning frameworks, common themes can be identified—
among others, that learning frequently takes place between pairs or among groups of individuals, in
cooperative or collaborative settings, and/or in communities or communities of practice [2–5].
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
The Role of Teaching Presence
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Community has been defined in many ways, and various authors have focused on different elements of
community, including trust, spirit, connectedness, belonging, membership, various forms of support, and
the rich and productive milieu that communities of practice can engender for teaching and learning [4–9].
The benefits of community for learning have been documented by a number of authors. Rovai [7], for
example, presents evidence suggesting a strong sense of community is essential in higher education
learning environments. He asserts that community helps reduce feelings of isolation associated by some
authors with distance and online learning [10, 11]. A strong sense of community is also beneficial in
reducing student “burnout” associated with higher attrition levels in distance learning [12]. Community
membership promotes the likelihood of student support and information flow, commitment to group
goals, cooperation among members, and satisfaction with group processes and efforts [6, 13–15]. The
Community of Inquiry Model [16], of which teaching presence is one component, is founded on the
importance of community to learning.
Previous research indicates that an important association exists between teacher behaviors and the
development of virtual learning communities in online courses [7]. Shea et al. [17], for example, found
significant differences in perceived learning between college students reporting varying levels of
interaction with their instructors. Students who reported high levels of interaction with their instructors
also reported higher levels of learning from them. Jiang and Ting [18] and Swan and Shea [19] reported a
strong correlation between college student perceptions of learning and their perceived interactions with
instructors. Richardson and Swan [20] reported a significant correlation between student satisfaction with
their college instructors and their perceived learning online. In a review of faculty roles, Dzuiban, Shea,
and Arbaugh [21] concluded that all paradigms of effective online teaching in higher education assert or
imply that good online professors facilitate high levels of interaction with and between students.
Swan and Shea [19] also reported that students’ perceptions of learning and interaction are accurate, at
least concerning instructor activity. For example, they cite that Jiang and Ting [18] concluded that
perceived learning and perceived interaction with professors were correlated to the actual average
numbers of responses per student that instructors made. Swan et al. [22] also found a correlation between
students’ perceived interaction with their professors and the actual frequency of instructor participation in
online course discussions. Furthermore, Picciano [23] reported that professors’ actual activity in online
education courses was related to students’ perceived learning from them.
Interaction is necessary, but it is not sufficient to create a productive learning community. Others working
in this area have focused more specifically on the development of such environments. Brown [24], for
example, identified six causal conditions leading to the development of community among students in
three online graduate school courses. These are (1) expected behaviors are modeled by the instructor; (2)
sufficient time is available for online discussions and interaction; (3) similarities are identified between
online participants; (4) a personal or academic need to be part of a community exists on the part of the
participants; (5) a high priority is placed on the online course and interaction; and (6) participants are
engaged in the course and course dialogue. Brown identifies three levels of community, indicating that an
intermediate level developed after student participated in an extended and meaningful threaded discussion
in which their ideas were accepted and considered worthy of further discussion. Although Brown asserts
that the highest levels of community appear to require participation in multiple online courses and out-of-
course or face-to-face communication, online instructors still have significant influence or control over
the majority of the conditions leading to intermediate levels of community.
From the foregoing discussion, one can hypothesize an important relationship between instructor’s online
behaviors, the establishment of community, and the ultimate effectiveness of higher education online
learning environments. These findings indicate the importance to students of interactions with their
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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instructors and suggest the importance of instructors in the development of a sense of virtual community.
However, as noted previously [19], specific connections between identifiable instructor activities and/or
between student interactions with their instructors and the development of community have yet to be
documented across a broad array of courses, programs, and institutions. This paper attempts to address
this gap by examining instructor behaviors that support the development of learning community with a
large and diverse sample of students, instructors, courses, and institutions.
Given the myriad learning benefits associated with a strong sense of community, we believe it is
productive to attempt to determine how instructor behaviors may contribute to the development of
community in online environments. We believe that effective teaching presence has the potential to create
learning environments in which the benefits of online community may more easily be realized.
The remainder of this paper will describe a study designed to assess the relationship between students’
perceptions of teaching presence and their sense of community, as well as levels of interaction,
satisfaction, and learning in a multi-institution online setting. This research builds on previous studies [17,
25, 26] assessing teaching presence, satisfaction, and learning in the SUNY Learning Network (SLN) the
online, asynchronous learning environment of the State University of New York. We begin with a more
detailed description of teaching presence in the next section.
II. TEACHING PRESENCE
In the model of critical thinking and practical inquiry proposed by Garrison and his colleagues [16], three
overlapping lenses—cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence—provide mutual support
to create a framework in which interaction in an asynchronous online educational experience may be
assessed. The model seeks to explain how to best analyze and ultimately promote higher order learning—
the cognitive and social processes associated with worthwhile and meaningful educational experiences—in
computer-mediated, largely text-based environments such as the SUNY Learning Network. Teaching
presence is a critical component of the model [26] for high-quality online learning environments that we
are developing through our research in asynchronous learning networks. This model attempts to integrate
and investigate what is known about learning generally [1] with research on learning in higher education
[27, 28] and more recent understanding of learning in largely text-based online learning environments [16].
A central component of the model is a focus on community. The study outlined here attempts to investigate
the link between teaching presence, community, and learning, all of which are further defined below.
Anderson and his colleagues [29] refer to teaching presence as “the design, facilitation, and direction of
cognitive and social processes for the realization of personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile
learning outcomes.” In their model, teaching presence has three components: instructional design and
organization, facilitating discourse, and direct instruction. These categories align well with others
identified by researchers working on the roles of instructors in online environments [30]. Under the
category instructional design and organization, the authors include:
setting curriculum
designing methods
establishing time parameters
utilizing the medium effectively
establishing netiquette
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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Another component of teaching presence in the Anderson model is facilitating productive discourse. The
task of facilitating discourse is necessary to maintain learner engagement and refers to “focused and
sustained deliberation that marks learning in a community of inquiry” [29]. The authors provide
indicators of the activity of facilitating discourse, which include:
identifying areas of agreement and disagreement
seeking to reach consensus and understanding
encouraging, acknowledging, and reinforcing student contributions
setting the climate for learning
drawing in participants and prompting discussion
assessing the efficacy of the process
Anderson et al. [29] also include indicators of direct instruction in their framework for the analysis of
teaching presence. These indicators include:
presenting content and questions
focusing the discussion on specific issues
summarizing discussion
confirming understanding
diagnosing misperceptions
injecting knowledge from diverse sources
responding to technical concerns
In two previous studies of teaching presence [17, 31] we found significant correlations between student’s
reports of high levels of these behaviors—on the part of both faculty and students—and students’ degrees
of satisfaction and learning in their courses. In addition, students reported higher levels of teaching
presence, learning, and satisfaction in courses in which their instructors were trained and supported to
establish teaching presence in effective ways. In the study outlined here, we again assessed student
perceptions of teaching presence and also their perceptions of community, our aim being to understand
the connection between teaching presence and the development of community.
III. PARTICIPANTS
Study participants consisted of 2,036 students studying in the summer 2004 semester at thirty-two State
University of New York colleges in the SUNY Learning Network (SLN). Twenty-one of the institutions
were community colleges, reflecting the overall proportion of community colleges to four-year
institutions in SLN. In all, approximately 20%, or 2,181, of the 10,907 students in the total summer 2004
student group were randomly presented the option of taking the survey when they logged in to their
courses. The 2,036 students who responded to the survey indicate a response rate of approximately 93%.
Because some students took more than one course, 2,314 evaluation questionnaires were collected.
Represented in the sample were 470 instructors and 581 courses.
Presented in Table 1 are demographic data, which is collected by the SUNY Learning Network when a
student registers for an account. It is conceivable that these demographic variables could play a role in the
formation of community, and therefore they were included in subsequent analysis. For example, in
assessing the development of community, one course-factor demographic of interest might be the duration
of the course in days, which was sorted into two categories: less than or equal to 65 days (51.3%), and
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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more than 65 days (48.7%). If community development depends on interactions engaged in over time,
then course duration may play a role.
n %
Gender
1 Female 1,689 73.0
2 Male 625 27.0
Age
1 15–25 916 39.6
2 26–35 640 27.7
3 36–45 506 21.9
4 46–55 217 9.4
5 56–65 34 1.5
6 65+ 1 .0
Registration status
1 Full time 1,010 43.6
2 Part Time 1,304 56.4
Employment Status
1 Part-time 609 26.3
2 Full-time 1,268 54.8
3 Not employed 437 18.9
Distance from campus
1 On campus 23 1.0
2 Less than 30 minutes 852 36.8
3 30 minutes to 1 hour 510 22.0
4 1 hour to 2 hours 292 12.6
5 More than 2 hours 637 27.5
Modem type
1 28.8 43 1.9
2 33.6 14 0.6
3 56 372 16.1
4 Cable Modem 948 41.0
5 LAN 193 8.3
6 DSL 333 14.4
7 ISDN 5 0.2
8 Missing/Other/don’t know 406 17.5
Why Online
1 Conflict with personal schedule 820 35.4
2 Course not offered on campus/
schedule conflict 412 17.8
3 Distance or lack of transportation 378 16.3
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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4 Family responsibilities 441 19.1
5 Interest in technology/internet 73 3.2
6 Other 190 8.2
Duration of course in days
1 65 1,186 51.3
2 > 65 1,128 48.7
Table 1. Demographic Information of the Respondents (N=2,314)
Each of these demographics for the sample of respondents was also compared to the demographics for the
whole population (see Appendix A) and demonstrates a close correlation to the overall response patterns
for all students in the summer 2004 cohort. In the next section we discuss the instrument developed for
the study.
IV. INSTRUMENTATION
Participants responded to a forty-two–item survey (Appendix B) designed to measure students’ perceptions
of both teaching presence and learning community. The teaching presence portion of the survey was
developed in consultation with Anderson, one of the authors of the teaching presence model used in this
research. This section of the survey contained seventeen items to assess instructional design and
organization, facilitation of discourse, and direct instruction. The scale assessing instructional design and
organization has six items that reflect the setting of curriculum, the design of methods, establishment of
time parameters, effective utilization of the medium, and the establishment of netiquette. The facilitation-
of-discourse section contained six items assessing the professor’s proficiency in identifying areas of
agreement and disagreement; seeking to reach consensus and understanding; encouraging, acknowledging,
and reinforcing student contributions; setting the climate for learning; drawing in participants and
prompting discussion; and assessing the efficacy of the instructional process. The direct-instruction section
has five items assessing the professor’s proficiency in presenting content and questions, focusing the
discussion on specific issues, confirming understanding, diagnosing misperceptions, and injecting
knowledge from diverse sources. The rating of the teaching presence components was on a five-point
Likert-type scale, from strongly disagree = 0, disagree = 1, neutral = 2, agree = 3, to strongly agree = 4.
One goal of our research was to determine the validity and reliability of this teaching-presence instrument,
as we propose to use this construct as the independent variable in this study.
To assess students’ sense of learning and community, we used Rovai’s Classroom Community Scale [7,
8], which we will refer to as a measure of learning community—the dependent measure for this study.
The Classroom Community Scale’s twenty items, which are items 4 through 23 in the instrument
included in Appendix B, measure learning community through two subscales, connectedness and
learning. The connectedness subscale reflects respondents’ feelings regarding cohesion, spirit, trust, and
interdependence; the learning subscale reflects the degree to which respondents shared educational goals
and benefits through their interaction with other course participants. We believe that the instrument is a
good measure of the characteristics of a learning community—i.e., students’ sense of trust, belonging, and
mutual support in the pursuit of shared educational goals.
Additional survey items asked about students’ levels of learning and satisfaction in the course and
collected demographic data. We considered it likely that other demographic variables, such as age,
gender, and reason for taking courses online, would have an impact on a student’s sense of connectedness
and community. For example, previous research on the relationship between age and social isolation [32,
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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33] has found higher levels of social isolation with increases in age, thus suggesting possible variations in
sense of community or connectedness by age. Similar differences have been found in regard to gender
[34, 35, 36, 37], with females in general less socially isolated than males, suggesting possible variations
in scores for sense of community or connectedness by gender. We also believed that a respondent’s
reason for taking a course, physical distance from campus, and employment status would reflect
underlying differences in sense of community; distance from campus and interest in online learning, for
example, may be indicators of isolation. Finally, we believed that the duration of the course could have an
impact on a participant’s sense of community—for example, longer courses may provide greater
opportunity for creating bonds. These variables were therefore included in the analysis.
V. PROCEDURES
The survey was completed online by a sample of participants enrolled in the summer 2004 semester. The
survey was programmed to appear at random two weeks before the end date of the course when students
in the sample logged in. Students in the sample were contacted via email three times by the program
administrators with requests to complete the survey when it appeared. The program administrators also
enlisted the assistance of the faculty teaching courses during this period, asking them to encourage their
students to complete the survey. A certain degree of caution needs to be taken in interpreting the results of
this survey in light of the fact that only students who completed their courses were included in the
sample—i.e., the levels of satisfaction reported here are for students who did not drop out and may be
higher than those for non-completers.
VI. RESULTS
A. Factor Analysis
The item correlation matrix for teaching presence is presented in Table 2. As can be seen, the coefficients
were greater than .30, which indicates acceptable use of factor analysis [38]. All correlations were
significant at the 0.01 level.
q24 q25 q26 q27 q28 q29 q30 q31 q32 q33 q34 q35 q36 q37 q38 q39
q24 Course goals
communicated
q25 Course topics
communicated .88
q26 Clear
instructions .81 .81
q27 Due dates
communicated .72 .72 .73
q28 How to
participate online .71 .74 .75 .68
q29 Netiquette .62 .64 .65 .60 .72
q30 Identified
areas of agreement .62 .64 .63 .55 .67 .67
q31 Sought to
reach consensus .66 .69 .67 .58 .71 .66 .83
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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q32 Reinforced
student
contributions .61 .63 .62 .56 .66 .61 .73 .75
q33 Set climate for
learning .60 .62 .62 .53 .66 .63 .72 .76 .76
q34 Drew in
participants .59 .60 .59 .51 .65 .61 .75 .77 .76 .79
q35 Kept students
on task .64 .66 .65 .58 .69 .65 .78 .81 .76 .76 .84
q36 Presented
content and
questions .66 .69 .67 .57 .68 .62 .72 .78 .68 .70 .70 .76
q37 Focused the
discussion .64 .66 .64 .55 .68 .63 .74 .79 .71 .74 .75 .78 .83
q38 Confirmed
understanding .65 .67 .67 .58 .70 .61 .76 .80 .78 .72 .74 .77 .75 .76
q39 Diagnosed
misperceptions .61 .63 .61 .55 .65 .61 .74 .78 .72 .71 .71 .75 .73 .73 .82
q40 Injected
knowledge .59 .62 .60 .54 .67 .60 .68 .71 .65 .69 .68 .70 .72 .71 .71 .72
Table 2. Item Correlations
Maximum likelihood factor analysis with direct oblique rotation was applied to examine the hypothesized
elements of teaching presence (instructional design and organization, facilitating discourse, and direct
instruction) and to determine the dimensionality of the components. Delta was zero. The Kaiser-Meyer-
Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy was .97, indicating that none of the teaching presence items
violated the facto analysis assumption in regards to multicollinearity. Bartlett’s test of sphericity resulted
in a chi-square of 43814.76 (p < 0.001), which is evidence that the data are approximately multivariate
normal and acceptable for factor analysis. The following criteria were utilized to decide how many factors
should be extracted: the scree plot, the Kaiser-Gutman rule, and the interpretability of the solution. The
initial factor analysis did not confirm an interpretable three-factor solution, especially in regard to the
direct instruction component. However, the scree plot and Kaiser-Gutman criteria indicated that two
factors could be interpreted—both factors had eigenvalues greater than 1.00.
The analysis was rerun using two factors and the maximum likelihood method with oblique rotation. The
resulting pattern matrix is presented in Table 3. A two-factor solution was highly interpretable, with items
loaded high on one factor and low on the other. The analysis reveals that 74.37% of the variability of the
teaching presence construct can be accounted for. The two factors were instructional design and
organization, and directed facilitation—the latter a revised category incorporating elements of both
discourse facilitation and direct instruction.
Directed
Facilitation Instructional Design &
Organization
Drew in participants .99 .14
Kept students on task .92 .02
Set climate for learning .88 .03
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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Identified areas of agreement .88 .01
Sought to reach consensus .87 -.04
Diagnosed misperceptions .86 .01
Focused the discussion .84 -.04
Reinforced student contributions .83 -.02
Confirmed understanding .83 -.07
Injected knowledge .74 -.08
Presented content and questions .72 -.16
Netiquette .45 -.35
Course goals were communicated -.06 -.97
Course topics were clear -.01 .94
Clear instructions were provided .08 -.82
Due dates were clear .04 -.76
How to participate online .38 -.51
Table 3. Pattern Matrix
B. Reliability
Reliability analysis was applied to examine the internal consistency of the learning community measure
and the teaching presence scales. Results are presented in Table 4 indicating that the learning community
scale and its subscales—connectedness and learning—were satisfactory (measures for Cronbach’s alpha
were over .90). The reliability coefficients of the teaching presence scale and its components—
instructional design and organization, and directed facilitation—were .94 and .97 respectively.
Cronbach’s Alpha
Learning Community Scale .94
Connectedness .91
Learning .90
Teaching Presence Scale .97
Instructional Design and Organization .94
Directed Facilitation .97
Table 4. Reliabilities Coefficients of Learning Community Scale (Connectedness and Learning) and
Teaching Presence (Instructional Design & Organization, and Directed Facilitation)
C. Preliminary Analysis
No missing values were found in the learning community and teaching presence measures. The scores on
both measures were obtained by summing up the items. The means, standard deviations, and correlations
among the learning community and the teaching presence factors are presented in Table 5. The mean for
total learning community scale was 53.53 out of a possible 80 with a standard deviation of 12.53; the
mean of the connectedness subscale was 24.14 out of a possible score of 40 with a standard deviation of
6.70, the mean of the learning subscale was 29.22 out of a possible 40 with a standard deviation of 6.93.
The mean overall score for teaching presence was 52.62 (with a maximum score of 68) with a standard
deviation of 13.75, the mean score for instructional design and organization was 16.64 (with a maximum
score of 20) with a standard deviation of 3.91, of and the mean score for directed facilitation was 35.99
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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(with a maximum score of 48) with a standard deviation of 10.40.
Pearson correlation analysis was applied to examine the relationships between learning community and
teaching presence. Results showed that significant and positive correlations were found between the
teaching presence measures and total learning community measures; the correlation coefficient was .76. It
was found that teaching presence has a higher correlation with perceived learning (.80) than with sense of
connectedness (.60). The intercorrelation among the learning community components was moderate, with
a coefficient of .69, whereas the intercorrelation among the teaching presence components was high, with
a coefficient of .82.
Mean SD TCC CC LC TP IDO
Total Learning Community (TLC) 53.35 12.53
Connectedness 24.14 6.70 ***.92
Learning 29.22 6.93 ***.92 ***.69
Teaching Presence (TP) 52.62 13.75 ***.76 ***.60 ***.80
Instructional Design and Organization (IDO) 16.64 3.91 ***.66 ***.48 ***.73 ***.90
Directed Facilitation (DF) 35.99 9.73 ***.76 ***.61 ***.78 ***.99 ***.81
***p<.001
Table 5. Mean, Standard Deviation, and Correlation Coefficients of the Learning Community Scale and Teaching
Presence Measures (Instructional Design, Facilitating Discourse, and Direct Instruction)
D. Multiple Regression Analysis
A multiple regression analysis was applied to examine the relationship between the learning community
measures, the revised teaching presence construct, and demographic information. In the regression analysis,
the dependent variable was total learning community as reflected by scores on the Classroom Community
Scale. The independent variables were instructional design and organization, directed facilitation, and the
demographic data that were converted to dummy values. The demographic data included gender, age,
employment status, distance from campus, reason for taking courses online, registration status, and course
duration. No violations were found in the assumptions of normality, linearity, and homoscedasticity of
residuals. Twenty-five outliers were found based on the criteria of beyond
±
3 standard deviations; these
were removed, and thus 2289 cases were used in the present analysis.
Presented in Table 6 are the unstandardized betas (B), standard error (SE B) and standardized betas (Beta)
of the independent variables. The results of the regression model were found to be significant, F (21,
2288) =183.13, p<.001. The multiple correlation coefficient was .79, indicating that 63% of total variance
of learning community could be accounted for by the revised construct of teaching presence and the
demographic characteristic. The constructs instructional design and organization and directed facilitation
significantly contributed to the learning community measures. It was found that gender was also a
significant predictor of learning community, although other demographic data were not significant in the
present study.
B SE B Beta
(Constant) ***23.77 7.90
Instructional Design and Organization ***.44 .07 .14
Directed Facilitation ***.81 .03 .67
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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Gender (1=female, 2=male) *-.82 .36 -.03
Registration Status .58 .37 .02
15-25 years old -8.18 7.62 -.32
26-35 years old -7.34 7.62 -.26
36-45 years old -6.62 7.62 -.22
46-55 years old -7.63 7.63 -.18
56-65 years old -6.61 7.73 -.06
Part-time Employment .35 .50 .01
Full-time Employment .71 .46 .03
<30 minutes .71 1.69 .03
More than 30 minutes and less than 1 hour 1.04 1.70 .03
More than 1 hour and less than 2 hours .87 1.73 .02
More than 2 hours .54 1.70 .02
Distance or lack of transportation .11 .62 .00
Conflict with personal schedule -.46 .68 -.01
Course not offered .26 .69 .01
Family responsibilities .28 .68 .01
Personal interest in technology/internet .06 1.06 .00
Course duration -.22 .33 -.01
* p<.05, *** p<.001 Table 6. The Unstandardized Beta, Standard Error, and Standard Beta
All the insignificant predictors were excluded, and the regression model was run again. The independent
variables used to predict the learning community measure were instructional design and organization,
directed facilitation, and gender. Analysis of variance indicated that the results of the model were
significant, F(3, 2288)=1259.12, p<.001. The correlation coefficients among learning community, the two
teaching presence components and gender, the unstandardized beta, standard error and standard beta of
the regression model are presented in Table 7. The multiple correlation coefficient was .79, indicating that
62% of total variance of learning community could be accounted for by instructional design and
organization, directed facilitation, and gender. The standardized coefficients were .14, .67, and -.03,
which implied that directed facilitation has a greater contribution in predicting learning community and
that female participants tend to have a slightly higher sense of learning community.
1 2 3 B SE B Beta
(Constant) ***17.80 .86
1. Instructional Design and Organization 1.00 ***.46 .07 .14
2. Directed Facilitation ***.81 1.00 ***.81 .03 .67
3. Gender **-.05 *-.05 1.00 *-.79 .36 -.03
*p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001
Table 7. Correlation Coefficients, Unstandardized Beta, Standard Error, and Standard Beta of the Regression Model of
Learning Community
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VII. DISCUSSION
In this paper we have attempted to investigate the connection between students’ sense of learning
community as measured by Rovai’s Classroom Community Scale and teaching presence as measured by
indicators that reflect components in the Community of Inquiry Model as described by Garrison,
Anderson, and their colleagues. We agree with a growing number of researchers that a sense of shared
purpose, trust, support, and collaboration—i.e., a sense of community—is an essential element in the
development of quality online learning environments in much the same way as it is in the development of
high-quality traditional learning environments. We believe that online learning community may be
established through effective instructional design and organization, the facilitation of productive
discourse, and helpful direct instruction, all components of teaching presence as described by the
Community of Inquiry Model. Our results raise a number of issues that warrant further discussion.
One of the purposes of this study was to establish the validity and reliability of an instrument that can be
used to measure students’ sense of teaching presence in their online courses. We developed such an
instrument, and the results presented here have a number of implications. It appears that the initial three-
component framework for teaching presence proposed under the Community of Inquiry Model may need
to be revised. Our factor analysis indicates that a two-component model composed of instructional design
and organization and directed facilitation emerges from the data. Seventy percent of the variance for the
teaching presence construct can be accounted for by these two factors. These results suggest that the
indicators identified in the Community of Inquiry Model that are meant to reflect direct instruction do not
appear to reliably reveal a latent component of a teaching presence construct. Although we believe that
direct instruction may be an important element of teaching both in traditional and online environments,
the indicators used here do not cohere into a single component that may be interpreted as a discrete factor;
instead, they contribute to another factor. Given that approximately twenty-five percent of the variance
for the teaching presence construct is unaccounted for by the analysis presented here, two possibilities
emerge: either we need better indicators for direct instruction in online environments to understand
teaching presence more clearly and comprehensively, or direct instruction is not particularly necessary in
online environments, and other factors are more important. The latter view reflects findings from some
researchers of traditional environments [e.g., 39], especially when considering the efficacy of discourse
facilitation relative to direct instruction in promoting learning and community. Additional research is
needed to address these questions.
Another purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between students’ recognition of
teaching presence on the part of their instructor and their overall sense of learning community. Through
regression analysis we attempted to determine how much of the variance in the Classroom Community
Scale—the proxy we used to measure learning community—could be accounted for by students’ sense of
teaching presence. We sought to understand the proportion of the variance in students’ senses of learning
community that could be predicted by the teaching presence factors we identified through the initial factor
analysis. We also wished to understand whether demographic characteristics contributed to students’
sense of learning community. We found that, in descending order, student recognition of effective
directed facilitation, instructional design and organization, and student gender each played a role in
predicting their overall sense of learning community. These are discussed in more detail in the
conclusions and recommendations sections below.
VIII. CONCLUSIONS
It appears from the analysis presented here that a number of conclusions can be made. The hypothesis
that perceived teaching presence is associated with students’ sense of learning community was supported.
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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Survey respondents were more likely to report a stronger sense of learning community when they also
reported that their instructors exhibited stronger “teaching presence” behaviors. In a general sense, when
students reported effective instructional design and organization and “directed facilitation” of discourse,
as defined by the teaching presence section of the instrument, they were more likely to report higher
levels of learning community, as measured by the Classroom Community Scale. A majority of the
variance in the scores for this measure of learning community can be explained by the students’ sense of
their instructors’ teaching presence.
Directed facilitation on the part of the instructor contributes more to the equation than measures of
effective instructional design and organization and gender differences do. This study reveals that a strong
and active presence on the part of the instructor—one in which she or he actively guides the discourse—is
related to students’ sense of both connectedness and learning. This finding does not discount the
importance of good instructional design and organization. Student who reported more effective
instructional design and organization also reported higher levels of learning community; the contribution
to the regression equation was simply not as great.
To understand matters from these results it is useful to recall the components of directed facilitation that
contribute to students’ sense of connectedness to course participants and to their sense of learning. These
components include whether the students feel the instructor is drawing in participants, creating an
accepting climate for learning, keeping students on track, and diagnosing misperceptions. Additionally
when students feel their instructors are identifying areas of agreement and disagreement and helping to
resolve these by looking for areas of consensus the students report higher levels of connectedness and
learning. Further when students report that the instructor is reinforcing student contributions, injecting
their own knowledge, and confirming student understanding, they are also more likely to report a better
sense of learning community as measured by the Rovai instrument.
In addition to the directed facilitation outlined above, student perceptions of effective instructional design and
organization also appear to matter in regards to a sense of connectedness and learning. The communication of
time parameters, due dates, and deadlines contribute to learning community as do clear course goals, course
topics, and instructions on how to effectively and appropriately participate in the course.
In addition to teaching presence behaviors, we examined student demographics as they relate to students’
sense of community in the online learning environment. One variable that we thought might provide
insight was course duration; however, we did not find evidence that courses that are of longer duration
resulted in a better sense of learning community. Student characteristics that we thought might be of
interest included age, gender, employment status, reason for taking the course online, physical distance
from campus, and previous online learning experience. Brown [24] concluded that experienced students
have more time to devote to community building than their newer counterparts and that novice online
students require greater interaction with and support from online instructors. We did not find strong
evidence to support these hypotheses in the present study, however. Although small differences were
noted with regard to gender, the other demographic variables entered in the regression equation did not
significantly contribute to the prediction for students’ sense of learning community. This result may
surprise some observers; it seems reasonable that at least some of these demographic variables might
serve as proxies for important predictors of ability or desire to participate in a learning community. For
example, full-time employment status might indicate that the student is busy or already a member of other
communities and therefore less likely to recognize and feel part of a learning community in an online
course. On the other hand, increased distance from campus might reasonably be interpreted as a measure
of academic isolation and therefore associated with a desire for participation in a learning community.
However, we did not find an indication of such associations here. Students’ reports of their instructors’
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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teaching presence behaviors far more clearly predicted their sense of online learning community.
Given the literature already available on the importance of a sense of community to student success, these
findings have a number of implications for faculty development, online course design, and online
instruction. These will be covered in the recommendations section below.
IX. RECOMMENDATIONS
Given the documented link between a stronger sense of community and reduced attrition levels in face-to-
face instruction, the results reported here seem particularly promising. Because of ongoing concerns about
higher attrition levels in online environments than in traditional environments, gaining an understanding
of how to increase online students’ sense of community is crucial. Several recommendations are
warranted based on the results presented here. In light of the strong association between students’
perceptions of teaching presence and their reports of levels of connectedness and learning, faculty
development efforts should focus on helping new online instructors understand the roles associated with
the establishment of teaching presence. It is common for faculty to receive training in online teaching that
consists largely of a review of the course management system interface—the conventions for uploading or
posting materials to the course, how to participate technically in online discussions, the technical creation
of online assessments, etc. Although the technical components of online teaching are necessary, training
in this area is insufficient for the goal of sustaining quality in the development of online learning
environments. Gaining an understanding of the pedagogy of online learning is another necessary
condition, and the framework of teaching presence and its components appear to be a useful mechanism
for developing this understanding,
In previous research [17, 31] we reported on the importance of teaching presence and described how
students of faculty who received training in teaching presence were significantly more likely to report
higher levels of satisfaction and learning in their online courses. The multivariate analysis reported here
suggests that effective instructional design and the skilled facilitation of discourse have a large positive
effect on not only student satisfaction but students’ sense of being connected with and supported by their
instructor and fellow students in online environments.That the facilitation of discourse is the factor most
strongly associated with students’ sense of learning and community indicates that this skill should be
emphasized and fostered through faculty development efforts. Applebee [40] suggests that the
development of effective curriculum in traditional learning environments may be viewed as the creation
of spaces for discourse: “a curriculum provides domains for conversation, and the conversation that takes
place within those domains are the primary means of teaching and learning” (p. 37). It should not be
surprising that the capacity to develop and sustain these conversations is also a crucial skill for online
teaching and learning.
Course designs featuring abundant opportunity for discussion that is actively and publicly facilitated by
the instructor seem to be warranted. Designs in which course goals and topics are clearly communicated,
course learning activities are clearly explained, and time parameters are clearly documented are
preferable. Furthermore, instructors should provide clear instructions on how to effectively participate in
important course activities, such as online threaded discussion, and should offer guidelines on acceptable
methods of interaction within such discussions. Helping students understand that online discussions may
lead to misunderstanding and “flaming,” and documenting policies on appropriate forms of interaction
(netiquette) still appear relevant to supporting students’ sense of learning and community.
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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It is important to students that instructors help to identify and resolve areas of agreement and
disagreement on course topics and help the group to achieve a sense of consensus. It also seems clear that
instructors in online courses need to draw in participants, keep students on task, and focus the course
conversations on relevant issues. Furthermore, instructors should expand opportunities for learning by
presenting content and questions and providing explanatory feedback that helps to confirm understanding.
None of these recommendations should come as a great surprise, as they are also applicable to traditional
and blended learning environments.
The finding that gender plays a small role in students’ sense of learning community supports previous
research and also requires additional study. Previously [41] we have reported similar small correlations
indicating that women tend to report more learning, more satisfaction, fewer technical difficulties, and
higher levels of interaction with their classmates and with faculty in online learning environments. The
current finding adds to the list of positive outcomes that seem to be (weakly) associated with gender that
arise when looking at data with large sample sizes. These findings are in alignment with those from other
large-sample research [e.g., 42 (n=1,244)] indicating some indices of better performance on the part of
women in online courses. Added to our previous finding this may point to a trend in which such results
are not evident when examining smaller samples such as students enrolled in individual courses. Though
practical implications may be slight [43], it would be worthwhile to make faculty in online environments
aware that some evidence suggests that male students need greater support in the development of online
learning communities. It would be useful as well to make students aware of the benefits and components
of learning community, especially those who may have difficulty in seeing those benefits or forging
interpersonal connections in online environments.
Additional research is needed to understand how the most highly rated instructors are developing and
structuring online conversations. The strategies that are employed across different disciplines may vary,
and understanding and sharing effective mechanisms for discourse facilitation across academic areas
though faculty training efforts would assist the development of the online enterprise greatly.
Additional research is also needed to determine if the number of items in the present instrument may be
reduced further without sacrificing the amount of variance for which it accounts. Initial analysis indicates
that this may be possible—experimenting with other regression models suggests that at least five items in
the teaching presence section may be removed without losing a significant amount of the variance for the
learning community measure. Reducing the number of items may make this instrument less burdensome
and therefore easier to administer, thus promoting its utility as a mechanism for assessment in other
online programs. The CCI has also been revised since we designed this research and in now available in a
shorter form that may be useful [44]. We will attempt to confirm this analysis in subsequent research.
These results, drawn from a relatively large sample size, may be considered a benchmark for other
institutions seeking to develop high-quality online teaching and learning environments. The overall
average scores that were reported here may be improved upon by helping faculty to “do more” of what
appears to matter to students, i.e. where learners report higher levels of teaching presence behaviors—
active “directed facilitation” and effective instructional design and organization—they also report higher
levels of learning community. Institutions can use these baseline scores and recommendations to begin to
create learning environments that promote higher levels of connectedness and learning both online and
offline. If the positive connection between student sense of community and higher retention rates applies
to online learning—and there is little reason to doubt that it does—schools should also begin to see
reduced levels of attrition.
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XI. AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES
Peter Shea is a member of the faculty in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at
University at Albany, State University of New York, where he has taught at the graduate level both online
and in the classroom. He has a joint appointment in the College of Computing and Information.
Previously he was the director of the SUNY Learning Network, the award-winning online education
system for the State University of New York. Dr. Shea has also served as manager of the SUNY
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Program and as project director for SUNY’s participation in the
Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT), an international
collaboration for peer review of discipline-specific online learning resources. He is also member of the
USNY Technology Policy Council.
His research focuses on the student and faculty experience in technology-mediated teaching and learning,
most recently on the topics of teaching presence and community in asynchronous learning networks. He is
the author of many articles and several book chapters on the topic of online learning, co-author of The
Successful Distance Learning Student (Thomson-Wadsworth), and a contributor to the new book
Learning Together Online: Research on Asynchronous Learning Networks (Lawrence Erlbaum). He is a
co-recipient of several awards, including the EDUCAUSE Award for Systemic Progress in Teaching and
Learning for the State University of New York, and Sloan Consortium Awards for Excellence in Faculty
Development and Asynchronous Learning Networks Programs. He is a member of the American
Educational Research Association and the editorial board for the Journal of Asynchronous Learning
Networks. His research has appeared in the Journal of Educational Computing Research, The
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, and the Journal of Asynchronous
Learning Networks.
Karen Swan is research professor in the Research Center for Educational Technology at Kent State
University and the Learning Effectiveness Pillar Editor for the Sloan Consortium. Dr. Swan’s research is
in the general area of media and learning. She has published and presented nationally and internationally
in the specific areas of programming and problem solving, computer-assisted instruction, hypermedia
design, technology and literacy, and technology professional development.
Her current research focuses on student learning in ubiquitous computing environments and on online
learning—in particular, on interactivity, social presence, and interface issues. Dr. Swan has authored
several hypermedia programs as well as three online courses and has co-edited a book on Social Learning
From Broadcast Television. She is the special issues editor for the Journal of Educational Computing
Research and a member of the national advisory board of the Ubiquitous Computing Evaluation
Consortium.
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Alexandra M. Pickett is the assistant director of the SUNY Learning Network (SLN), the asynchronous
learning network for the State University of New York. A pioneer in instructional design and faculty
training for asynchronous web-based teaching and learning environments, Ms. Pickett has since 1994 led
the development of the instructional design methods, support services, and resources used by SLN to
support the creation and delivery of fully online courses by SUNY campuses and faculty. One of the
original SLN design team members, she co-designed the course management software and authored the
four-stage faculty development process and seven-step course design process used by the network. Her
comprehensive approach to faculty development includes an online faculty resource and information
gateway, an online conference for all faculty with the opportunity to observe a wide variety of online
courses, a series of workshops for new faculty, instructional design sessions for returning faculty looking
to improve their courses, a developer’s handbook, a course template, a faculty HelpDesk, online
mechanisms for faculty evaluation of SLN services, and an assigned instructional design partner. Today,
working with fifty-six of the sixty-four SUNY institutions, she has directly supported or coordinated the
development of more than 1,500 SUNY faculty and their web-delivered courses. Her research interests
are in faculty satisfaction and the effective instructional design of online courses, and student satisfaction
and perceived learning. She has co-authored a number of studies on these topics and has published and
presented the results both nationally and internationally. Visit http://SLN.suny.edu/developer and
http://SLN.suny.edu/conference.
XII. APPENDIX A
Comparison of Demographic Data of Sample to Those of Cohort Population
Sample
Frequency Sample
Percent Population
Frequency Population
Percent
Gender
1 Female 1,689 73.0 7,995 68.0
2 Male 625 27.0 3,794 32.0
Age
1 15–24 916 39.6 4,918 41.7
2 25–34 640 27.7 3,540 30.0
3 35–44 506 21.9 2,092 17.7
4 45–54 217 9.4 1,069 9.1
5 55–64 34 1.5 157 1.3
6 65+ 1 .0 14 .12
Registration status
1 Full-time 1,010 43.6 5,873 49.8
2 Part-time 1,304 56.4 5,917 50.2
Employment Status
1 Part-time 609 26.3 3,683 31.2
2 Full-time 1,268 54.8 5,882 49.9
3 Not employed 437 18.9 2,224 18.9
Distance from campus
1 On campus 23 1.0 176 1.5
2 < 30 minutes 852 36.8 5,006 42.5
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3 30 minutes to 1 hour 510 22.0 2,633 22.3
4 1 hour to 2 hours 292 12.6 1,366 11.6
5 More than 2 hours 637 27.5 2,609 22.1
Modem type
1 28.8 43 1.9 203 1.7
2 33.6 14 0.6 54 0.5
3 56 372 16.1 1,769 15.0
4 Cable Modem 948 41.0 4,980 42.2
5 LAN 193 8.3 926 7.9
6 DSL 333 14.4 1,631 13.8
7 ISDN 5 0.2 38 .3
8 Don’t know 406 17.5 2,189 18.6
Why Online
1 Conflict with personal schedule 820 35.4 4,887 41.6
2 Course not offered on campus/schedule
conflict 412 17.8 2,000 17.0
3 Distance or lack of transportation 378 16.3 1,642 13.9
4 Family responsibilities 441 19.1 1,884 16.0
5 Interest in technology/internet 73 3.2 493 4.2
6 Other 190 8.2 884 7.5
Duration of course in days
1 Less than 65 1,186 51.3
2 More than 66 1,128 48.7
XIII. APPENDIX B
Online Teaching and Learning Questionnaire
Course
1. Online Experience
This is my first online course.
I have taken one online course before.
I have taken two online courses before.
I have taken three or more online courses before.
1A. Web-Enhanced Course Experience*
This is my first course with online components.
I have taken one online course or course with online components before.
I have taken two online courses or courses with online components before.
I have taken three or more online courses or courses with online components before.
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2. Overall, I was satisfied with this course.
Strongly Agree
Agree
Neutral
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
3. Overall, I learned a great deal in this course.
Learning Community
DIRECTIONS: Below you will see a series of statements concerning a specific course or program you
are presently taking or recently completed. Read each statement carefully and select the choice that comes
closest to indicating how you feel about the course or program. There are no correct or incorrect
responses. If you neither agree nor disagree with a statement or are uncertain, select the neutral choice.
Do not spend too much time on any one statement, but give the response that seems to describe how you
feel. Please respond to all items in this section.
4. I feel that students in this course care about each other.
5. I feel that I am encouraged to ask questions.
6. I feel connected to others in this course.
7. I feel that it is hard to get help when I have a question.
8. I do not feel a spirit of community.
9. I feel that I receive timely feedback.
10. I feel that this course is like a family.
11. I feel uneasy exposing gaps in my understanding.
12. I feel isolated in this course.
13. I feel reluctant to speak openly.
14. I trust others in this course.
15. I feel that this course results in only modest learning.
16. I feel that I can rely on others in this course.
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17. I feel that other students do not help me learn.
18. I feel that members of this course depend on me.
19. I feel that I am given ample opportunities to learn.
20. I feel uncertain about others in this course.
21. I feel that my educational needs are not being met.
22. I feel confident that others will support me.
23. I feel that this course does not promote a desire to learn.
Instructional Design and Organization
Setting the curriculum
24. Overall, the instructor for this course clearly communicated important course goals (for example,
provided documentation on course learning objectives).
25. Overall, the instructor for this course clearly communicated important course topics (for example,
provided a clear and accurate course overview).
Designing methods
26. Overall, the instructor for this course provided clear instructions on how to participate in course
learning activities (for example, provided clear instructions on how to complete course assignments
successfully).
Establishing time parameters
27. Overall, the instructor for this course clearly communicated important due dates and time frames for
learning activities that helped me keep pace with this course (for example, provided a clear and accurate
course schedule, due dates, etc.)
Utilizing the medium effectively
28. Overall, the instructor for this course helped me take advantage of the online environment in a way
that assisted my learning (for example, provided clear instructions on how to participate in online
discussion forums).
Establishing netiquette
29. Overall, the instructor for this course helped students understand and practice the kinds of behaviors
acceptable in online learning environments (for example, provided documentation on netiquette, i.e.,
polite forms of online interaction).
Developing Learning Community in Online Asynchronous College Courses:
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Facilitating Discourse
Identifying areas of agreement/disagreement
30. Overall, the instructor for this course was helpful in identifying areas of agreement and disagreement
on course topics that assisted me to learn.
Seeking to reach consensus
31. Overall, the instructor for this course was helpful in guiding the class towards understanding course
topics in a way that assisted me to learn.
Reinforcing student contributions
32. Overall, the instructor in this course acknowledged student participation in the course (for example,
replied in a positive, encouraging manner to student submissions)
Setting climate for learning
33. Overall, the instructor for this course encouraged students to explore new concepts in this course (for
example, encouraged “thinking out loud” or the exploration of new ideas)
Drawing in participants, prompting discussion
34. Overall, the instructor for this course helped keep students engaged and participating in productive
dialogue.
Assessing the efficacy of the process
35. Overall, the instructor for this course helped keep the participants on task in a way that assisted my
learning.
Direct Instruction
Presenting content/questions
36. Overall, the instructor for this course presented content or questions that helped me learn.
Focusing the discussion on specific issues
37. Overall, the instructor for this course focused discussion on relevant issues in a way that helped me
learn.
Confirming understanding
38. Overall, the instructor for this course provided explanatory feedback that helped me learn (for
example, responded helpfully to discussion comments or course assignments).
Diagnosing misconceptions
39. Overall, the instructor for this course helped me to revise my thinking (for example, correct
misunderstandings) in a way that assisted my learning.
Injecting knowledge from diverse sources
40. Overall, the instructor for this course provided useful information from a variety of sources that
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The Role of Teaching Presence
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assisted my learning (for example, references to articles, textbooks, personal experiences, or links to
relevant external websites).
Learning Online
DIRECTIONS: If you took a completely online course, please answer question 41. If you took a
classroom-based course with online components, skip to question 41A.*
41. Think of a similar course you have taken in the classroom. Compared to that course (i.e., a course that
was not online) how would you rate your level of learning in this course?
I learned more in the classroom than in this online course.
I learned about the same in this online course as I did in the classroom.
I learned more in this online course than I did in the classroom.
41A. Think of a similar course you have taken in the classroom that did not contain any online
components. Compared to that course, how would you rate your level of learning in this course?
The online components helped me learn, so I learned more in this course.
The online components had no impact on my learning; I learned about the same in this course.
The online components had a negative impact on my learning; I learned less in this course.
Not applicable—I was unaware that this course used online components, or I did not go to the course
website.
DIRECTIONS: If you took a completely online course, please answer question 42. If you took a
classroom-based course with online components, skip to question 42A.*
42. Based on your experience, would you consider taking other online courses in the future?
Yes, as many as possible.
Yes, some additional courses.
Undecided.
No, unless absolutely necessary
No.
42A. Based on your experience in this course, would you consider taking other courses with online
components in the future?
Yes, as many as possible.
Yes, some additional courses.
Undecided.
No, unless absolutely necessary
No.
*Participants in the study described here were drawn solely from the sample of completely online learners
identified through demographics collected by the researchers.
... According to previous research, courses with higher levels of teaching presence can provide clearer course structure and more relevant contents that could eventually help students achieve higher efficiency and better learning outcomes (Garrison et al., 2010;Garrison, 2017). Teaching presence can also significantly predict students' satisfaction (Akyol and Garrison, 2008;Arbaugh, 2008;Maddrell, 2011;Miller et al., 2014;Kyei-Blankson et al., 2016;Yang et al., 2016;Lim, 2018;Shea et al., 2019) and perceived learning in online courses (Shea et al., 2003(Shea et al., , 2019Akyol and Garrison, 2008;Arbaugh, 2008). It is relevant throughout the implementation of an online course, from the design and facilitation to the content knowledge communication, and it has been conceptualized by three subdimensions, namely, instructional design and organization, facilitating discourse, and direct instruction (Caskurlu et al., 2020). ...
... According to previous research, courses with higher levels of teaching presence can provide clearer course structure and more relevant contents that could eventually help students achieve higher efficiency and better learning outcomes (Garrison et al., 2010;Garrison, 2017). Teaching presence can also significantly predict students' satisfaction (Akyol and Garrison, 2008;Arbaugh, 2008;Maddrell, 2011;Miller et al., 2014;Kyei-Blankson et al., 2016;Yang et al., 2016;Lim, 2018;Shea et al., 2019) and perceived learning in online courses (Shea et al., 2003(Shea et al., , 2019Akyol and Garrison, 2008;Arbaugh, 2008). It is relevant throughout the implementation of an online course, from the design and facilitation to the content knowledge communication, and it has been conceptualized by three subdimensions, namely, instructional design and organization, facilitating discourse, and direct instruction (Caskurlu et al., 2020). ...
... This study aims to assess how much of a mediating factor teaching presence can be when confronted with self-regulated learning components of performance and self-reflection, both understood as indicators of perceived learning, which is also a valid indicator of learning outcomes (Shea et al., 2019). These relationships become relevant considering that the relationship between teaching presence and learning outcomes and their interactions is a valuable research focus (Zhang et al., 2022). ...
Article
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In the context of a global pandemic that started in 2020, the Chilean higher education institution Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB) faced the challenge of giving continuity to its already established blended program for English courses while also starting the implementation of a high-stakes certification assessment for its students using the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) Bridge. This study sought to evaluate how much of a mediating factor online teaching presence could be in the context of test preparation within a language course in aspects related to autonomous learning and perceived learning outcomes. A mixed-methods approach was used. It included a survey applied to 1,642 eligible students of the English program. These quantitative data were complemented with students’ comments and teacher interviews. After triangulating quantitative and qualitative data, teaching presence was clearly perceived to be a relevant aspect of the online experience in the studied courses. However, both students’ and teachers’ voices evidenced pervasive challenges and tensions that hinder the potentially transformative benefits that online learning is expected to bring about.
... 32). Moreover, there is growing evidence that teaching presence is a significant determinant of student satisfaction, perceived learning, and sense of community (Akyol & Garrison, 2008;Arbaugh, 2008;Shea et al, 2005). ...
... According to a number of researchers like Akyol & Garrison, 2008;Arbaugh, 2008;Shea, Li, Swan, & Pickett, 2005 there is growing evidence that teaching presence is determinant to student satisfaction, perceived learning, and sense of community. ...
Thesis
Blended learning has emerged in the context of new learning environments and pedagogies offering its potential for maximising the effectiveness of contemporary teaching and learning. If full advantage is taken of technology, there are opportunities to trigger new relationships among the teacher, the learner and the educational context. However, to achieve this, the use of technology must be re-thought in terms of how teachers handle their teaching time and pedagogy (Laurillard, 2002). The focus and interest of this study are on the role of teachers and how they work to develop concrete skills and strategies for teaching effectively. It looks at how they attempt to bridge the distance between teachers and learners and to establish their presence in blended learning environments in both face-to-face and online contexts. Teaching in blended learning environments requires specific pedagogical approaches; and how educators prepare to teach in these environments will potentially impact the quality of the learning experience they provide (Kim et al, 2015). Given the importance of teaching presence and based on the assumption that teachers are key if learners are to achieve appropriate learning outcomes, this study sets out to examine the role of the teacher and the perceptions of their learners through an analysis of teaching presence (Garrison et al, 2000) in both environments, face-to-face and online, and understand how teachers and learners make sense of that blend. The data was collected at a university in Northwest Mexico over three years between 2016 and 2019 from four undergraduate-level blended learning courses in the field of English Language Teaching, Software Engineering, and International Commerce. Findings suggest that teaching presence can enhance the learners´ educational experience as it emphasises the organisation of instructional design in their courses. Evidence showed that learners feel a disconnection between the face-to-face and the online components if their teachers lack ownership of their blended course. Thus, there seems to be a need to further integrate both environments so that they become a real blend. In addition, the study reported lower levels of perceived teaching presence in the online component. Teacher immediacy is experienced by learners only in the classroom which does little to encourage their engagement as online learners.
... Studies have revealed significant positive correlations between perceptions of teaching presence and reported learning and satisfaction with online courses (Caskurlu et al., 2020;Shea et al., 2003Shea et al., , 2005. For example, Caskurlu et al. (2020) conducted a meta-analysis and found moderately strong positive correlations between teaching presence and student satisfaction, and teaching presence and perceived learning. ...
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic forced institutions of higher education around the world to quickly transition to forms of distance education, including synchronous and asynchronous online learning. Often lacking conceptual, empirical, and practical understanding of online pedagogy, many institutions have met this endeavor with mixed success. It seems inevitable that online learning will continue to play a key role in all sectors of education and, accordingly, that online pedagogy deserves a more mainstream focus. To help build a joint understanding of foundational knowledge between the online learning, educational technology, and educational psychology communities, in this article, we summarize the most frequently cited conceptual model that shapes research and practice in the field of higher education online learning: the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework. We describe the original CoI model and its foundational components (i.e., cognitive, social, and teaching presence) and highlight opportunities for improvement of the model by incorporating the educational psychology and learning sciences research base to inform: (1) conceptualizations of the social dimensions of collaborative learning and (2) understanding of learner contributions to online collaborative education including self-, co-, and shared regulation of learning. We propose that a new, more comprehensive conceptualization of the regulation of collaborative online learning be integrated into the existing CoI framework and that a new “presence” be referenced going forward—“Learning Presence.” Through this work, we strive to develop a more nuanced, generative, and informed vision of the future of online learning informed by relevant contemporary conceptualizations in educational psychology.
... Step Building on previous research around this aspect of online learning design (e.g., [26,[47][48][49]) four main principles for restructuring the discussion prompts were followed by the team: ...
Article
Full-text available
Recent Higher Education Statistics Agency data shows that only 20% of engineering students at UK Universities are female, despite the hard work being undertaken by many educational institutions to address this gender imbalance via outreach events and special interventions focussing on girls/women in STEM. It has been argued that student-centred teaching methods, together with changes in the engineering curriculum itself, which emphasise the social, creative, and human-centred aspects of the discipline, are required to effect real change in engaging with those from traditionally underrepresented groups. Through analysing quantitative data on age, gender, learner type, and commenting rates in peer-to-peer discussions, we examine the development and delivery of an engineering MOOC, before, during, and after COVID-19-related lockdowns in the UK, to identify what aspects of online learning might be harnessed to improve diversity in engineering education. The results show that the MOOC attracted a better gender balance than reported for UK-based in-person engineering programmes. In addition, we show that careful structuring of discussion prompts encouraged higher levels of social learning. We recommend the continued use of interactive and discursive elements within a blended learning environment to positively impact diversity and inclusion in engineering education specifically, and STEM education in general.
... Teachers describe discomfort engaging in discussions in online courses with people they do not know. As noted in the literature, distance education students feel less supported in areas of communication, interactions with the instructor, and interactions with other participants in the courses (Shea, Li, Swan, & Pickett, 2005). ...
Research
Full-text available
This research deals with Teaching Presence (TP), which is one of the three presences, but the most impactful one, in the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model. The research has two unique features: 1. Most research on Teaching Presence deals with the students' perspective of this phenomenon, although it is the teacher who is responsible for creating Teaching Presence thus it is important that their perspective, challenges, and thought process be understood. 2. Almost all research has been Quantitative which can prove hypothesis, correlations, causal relationships. However, it does not go into the minds of the people to understand what and how people think. My research is Qualitative which provides rich, thick description of the perceptions and allows detailed analysis of the challenges from the human angle. 3. This research provides explanations of the common interchangeability error committed by many; using Teacher Presence and Teaching Presence as synonymous. It also provides tools for new teachers to design courses based on TP which is not something that one can insert laterally BUT it is a mindset that starts even before a course is planned.
... Teachers describe discomfort engaging in discussions in online courses with people they do not know. As noted in the literature, distance education students feel less supported in areas of communication, interactions with the instructor, and interactions with other participants in the courses (Shea, Li, Swan, & Pickett, 2005). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
This dissertation is unique in two ways: 1. Almost all the research on Teaching Presence was done from the learners perspective, my research looks' at it from the Teachers' perspective; the challenges they see and how they try to overcome them. .Their understanding of this concept and how it helps them to design courses and improve learning outcomes. 2. Most research in this field was quantitative which cannot deal with perceptions and thought processes. My research is qualitative, thus it gives a rich, thick, in-depth description of the teachers' thinking, their perceptions, their feelings and how they struggle to beat the odds.
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This chapter reviews research linking the importance of community in an increasing engagement in online courses from an interdisciplinary perspective. Additionally, we identify applicable teaching strategies that focus on the important elements of community building, namely teaching, social, and cognitive presence.
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The recent digital pivot requires teacher educators (TEs) to reconceptualise their discipline-specific knowledge base and pedagogical skill set for the online learning environment. This mixed methods study explores TEs’ knowledge demands of choreographing a virtual learning space, with a particular focus on teaching presence. Data were collected from an extensive online questionnaire, individual semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews. Significant challenges in relation to curating and crafting contemporary pedagogy, implementing the instructional process and cultivating student interactivity were unearthed. Findings also outline critical characteristics of professional development experiences which, from a TE perspective, positively impact knowledge growth.
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Full-text available
This paper reports on an investigation into the complexities of student attrition in a distance education course. Deep-seated factors involved in the attrition process are disclosed as the particular qualitative research process that was employed mapped student responses through the course of interviews. These tabulations reveal interesting patterns of change as students volunteer explanations for their decisions.
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Data for almost 2000 students allow us to contrast leaning outcomes for courses in three different modes of delivery (completely online, mixed, and completely on campus). The analyses are based on three different factors: course level (graduate vs. undergraduate), course type (more technical computer science and engineering courses vs. less technical courses in CIS, humanities, and management), and gender. In terms of final grades, we found that online students achieved higher grades than those in face-to-face (FtF) courses did. However, the perception of leaning was similar across conditions. We also found a significant interaction between mode and course level: graduate students in mixed mode courses reported the highest levels of perceived leaning. The results of the study enable us to further generalize the finding that ALN modes of delivery tend to produce results equal to or better than those for FtF modes of course delivery.
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