FAPSC 2013 Annual Conference Presentation: Connecting with Online Students
Stepping Onto the Invisible Bridge: How to Connect
with Your Online Students
Patrick G. Ray; Senior Program Associate Dean
What is Instructional Immediacy?
• “People are drawn toward persons and things they like,
evaluate highly, and prefer; and they avoid or move
away from things they dislike, evaluate negatively, or do
– Albert Mehrabian (1971) – “Principle of immediacy“
• Joan Gorham (1988) – expanded to include verbal interaction that
increased psychological closeness between teachers and students
• Affective Learning – learning occurs more often, and to a greater
degree, when participants are involved emotionally
Examples of Immediacy
• Engaging in humor
• Asking questions
• Addressing students by name
• Encouragement of discussion
• Following up on student-initiated comments
• Encouraging student expression of opinions
• Sharing of personal examples
Can you spot the differences?
• My name is Professor Smith. I
was born in Nashville, TN. I
teach and am underpaid. If
you have questions, read the
syllabus. You may contact me
from 1-1:25pm on Wed during
my lunch. Thanks.
Welcome to College Success!
• Hi, Class! My name is Jim Guerrina. In
addition to teaching this course, I serve
as the Supervisor for Education
Programs at Seaworld, Orlando.
Currently, I am pursuing my MBA with a
concentration in Finance. My office
hours are 5-8pm on Wednesdays, or by
appointment. If you are ever in need of
assistance, please do not hesitate to
contact me. I look forward to speaking
with you all!
Online is not inferior…
• …it’s just different!
• Self-fulfilling prophecy: If you approach teaching online in the
same way that you approach teaching on ground, then you create a
poor facsimile of the residential experience, and it WILL be inferior.
• Leverage what makes online unique!
Effects of Instructional Immediacy in Online
Classrooms (Glenda Gunter; 2007)
• Analyzed four relationships in online courses:
• Impetus – high dropout rates in online courses
• Most cited reason for student dissatisfaction: lack of social
presence (feeling of closeness & community), feelings of isolation,
lack of interaction with instructor and other students.
Instructional Immediacy Online (Gunter; continued)
• A lack of face-to-face interaction means validation even more
• Online interactions increase a student’s self-efficacy which positively
– Students believe they can succeed!
• Positive correlation between immediacy & increased time on task
– Improved cognitive outcomes
• Undergrad students who participated in class discussions more than
75% of the time earned significantly higher GPAs than other
students (Rovai; 2007)
2012 Survey of Online Learning (Babson Research
students in higher education taking at least one
academic leaders rate learning outcomes same or superior
say online is critical to long-term strategy
• HOWEVER…only believe their faculty accept the value
& legitimacy of online ed.
Why do we have to be reminded to…be nice?
• Conflicting priorities = We do not apply those immediate behaviors
• Not articulated in policies/handbook = Lack of focus/awareness
• Karla Jensen (1999) - faculty could successfully learn to use such
after participating in an immediacy training program. Faculty
participating in such training increased their use of verbal immediacy
behaviors by 42 percent and, consequently, experienced a 59
percent increase in student participation in class compared to those
in the control group
“Community of Inquiry”
Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, and Archer (2001) – identify with the
community & develop relationships (social); facilitation for purpose of
realizing personally meaningful outcomes (teaching); & extent learners
are able to construct & confirm meaning through sustained discourse
Chickering & Gamson’s Seven Principles
of Good Practice
1. Encourage contact between students and faculty: Frequent student-
faculty contact both in and outside of class is an important factor in
student motivation and involvement.
2. Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students: Faculty should
create and encourage opportunities for collaborative learning among
3. Encourages active learning: Faculty should require students to apply
their learning in oral and written forms.
4. Give prompt feedback: Faculty should provide appropriate and prompt
feedback on performance. Students need help assessing their current
competence and performance, and need frequent opportunities to perform
and receive suggestion for improvement. Such feedback should be an
ongoing process in collegiate settings.
Seven Principles (cont.)
5. Emphasize time on task: Faculty should create opportunities for
students to practice good time management. This includes setting
realistic time for students to complete assignments as well as
using class time for learning opportunities.
6. Communicate high expectations: Faculty should set and
communicate high expectations for students. Such becomes a self-
fulfilling prophecy for students and they often will rise to meet the
7. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning: Faculty should
create learning opportunities that appeal to the different ways
students will process and attend to information. Varying
presentation style and assignment requirement will allow students
to showcase their unique talents and learn in ways that work for
Online Instructional Immediacy Strategies
• Introduce yourself to your students in a unique
– Channels of personalization
• Use technology to appeal to multiple modalities
– Video content
– Create a sense of direct instruction to achieve
collective ownership in the course
• Solicit feedback from your students during class
Adapt Communication to Different Learning Styles
• Bubbl.us: https://bubbl.us (online, collaborative brain-storming)
• Popplet: http://popplet.com/ (visualizing & presentation tool; lots of
• TubeChop http://www.tubechop.com/ (easily chop interesting sections from
YouTube videos to share)
• DragON Tape http://www.dragontape.com (mix tapes for Youtube; can string
different videos together into one presentation)
Soliciting Student Feedback
• SurveyMonkey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/
• Poll Everywhere: http://www.polleverywhere.com/ (solicit
feedback via text messages; 40 people or less = free)
• PollDaddy: http://polldaddy.com/ (200 responses/month
& 10 question survey max = free)