Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Dissertation Chair for Nasrin Nazemzadeh, Dissertation Defense PPT. (Dr. Kritsonis)
Social Presence in Online Courses:An Examination of Perceived Learningand SatisfactionA Dissertation DefensebyNasrin NazemzadehDissertation Chair: William Allan Kritsonis, Ph.D.Prairie View A & M UniversityEducational LeadershipNovember 2008
Committee Members Dissertation Chair: William Allan Kritsonis, Ph.D. Dissertation Committee: David Herrington, Ph.D. Solomon Osho, Ph.D. Tyrone Tanner, Ph.D
Dissertation Defense Format What is Social Presence? Statement of the Problem Subject of Study Purpose of the Study Instrumentation Research Methodology Research Questions and Summery of Findings Null Hypotheses Tables Conclusions Recommendations Recommendations for Further Study
Social Presence According to Short (1976), the degree to which a person is perceived as “real” in mediatedcommunication. Characteristics: 1. InteractivityShort, Williams & Christie (1976), Interaction between instructorsand students, & among students 2. Mediated CommunicationThose communications that occur via computer mediated (i.e., discussion board, e-mailand chat rooms) between two or more individuals 3. ImmediacyAnderson (1979), Those nonverbal behaviors that reduce physicaland/or psychological distance between teachers and students 4. Reciprocal AwarenessRafaeli (1998), Not only the presence of interactivity but also a recognition andawareness of the interactivity by participants 5. ConnectednessRovai (2001), Sense of involvement and engagement
Statement of The Problem Online education is the fastest growing segment of thehigher education industry. This growth is global. Spague(2007) projects that enrollment in distance-teachinginstitutions will grow to 120 million by the year 2025.Two year colleges have recognized the importance ofonline education to their long term growth strategiesmore than other types of institutions. Therefore, it isimportant to investigate if this growth will compoundthe educational deficits that have been documented intraditional education.
Subjects of the Study The study was conducted on studentsenrolled in online courses in theDepartment of Business and Technologyat Lone Star College-Tomball inTomball, Texas. The results of the studymay be generalized to the population ofstudents at Lone Star College-Tomball.
Purpose of the Study The purpose of the study is to examine the role ofsocial presence in online courses at a communitycollege. Specifically, the study examines therelationship of social presence in online courses tostudents’ perceived learning and satisfaction withtheir educational experience. The result of thisstudy will help educational leaders to utilize moreeffectively the online instruction.
Instrumentation After careful analysis of several developedinstruments, a modified instrument consistingof 48 questions was selected. This minimizedthe need for validation. The first 42 questionsare multiple-choice, and the last six requirewritten responses.
Instrumentation The instrument was placed with Wonder SurveyInc. Students logged on to the Wonder Surveyweb site where they directly answered thequestions and submitted the results electronicallyto Wonder Survey. A total of 150 students, 52.1%of the invited students completed the survey.Wonder Survey tabulated the responses andprovided the results. The questions and thechoices were relabeled for convenience.
Research Question # 1 andSummary of Findings Does the online learning experience contribute tofeelings of isolation among students? My research shows that 32% of the respondents indicatedthat they felt isolated. This proportion is significantlydifferent from zero as evidenced from a t-stat = 8.4, andits P-value = 0.000. Moreover, the greater the prevalenceof these feelings, the less satisfied students typically are,and the less they perceive to learn.
Research Question # 2 andSummary of Findings What factors influence student satisfaction in online classes?Listed in table 9 Instructor’s social presence The extent to which students feel they are part of a group, and Effective communication with the instructor and with otherstudents Factors that detract from it are:Feeling threatened,Feeling isolated, andMissing not seeing and hearing the instructor
Research Question # 3 andSummary of Findings Is the online learning experience detrimental to students’motivation? The related item in the instrument reads: Theonline course stimulated my desire to learn. According to my research, overall, 66% agreed with thestatement and 34% disagreed. The proportion thatdisagreed is significantly different from zero, t-stat = 8.76,probability value = 0.000. A significant proportion ofstudents report that the online course did not stimulatetheir desire to learn.
Research Question # 4 andSummary of Findings What factors influence learning outcomes? According to myresearch: Feeling part of a group Being able to communicate with other students and with theinstructor Learning about the instructor Feeling isolated Feeling threatened Missing not seeing and hearing the instructor The motivation to participate.
Research Question # 5 andSummary of Findings Is perceived learning related to social presence? The evidence in Tables 11 and 12 shows that astatistically significant proportion of thosereporting decreased learning, missed not seeingand hearing the instructor, reported decreasedquantity and quality of interaction with theinstructor and with students, expressed feelings ofisolation, were less motivated to learn, and learnedless about the instructor. All of the above arecomponents of the larger picture of social presence.
Research Question # 6 andSummary of Findings What are the perceived strengths and weaknesses of online education? The main perceived strength is flexibility: Ninety-four % of the respondents inthis study indicated that they took the online course because it allowed moreflexibility in time management. Consistent with this finding, the overwhelmingmajority of respondents indicated that they are willing to take another onlinecourse. Weaknesses: The results also indicate that the respondents missed not seeing andhearing the instructor, felt isolated and threatened, were less motivated to learn,were less satisfied with the educational experience, reported that the amountlearned decreased, their motivation to participate decreased, the amount andquality of interaction with the instructor and students decreased, and the onlinecourse did not provide an educational experience similar to the classroom .
Null Hypotheses H01. There is no statistically significant differencebetween the personal experience of the onlinecourse and that of the classroom. (Rejected). H02. There is no statistically significant relationshipbetween labor force activity as measured byaverage weekly hours of work, and the decision toenroll in online courses. (Not Rejected)
Ho2. There is no statistically significant relationship between labor forceactivity, as measured by average weekly hours of work, and the decision toenroll in online courses (Not Rejected). Table 4________________________________________________Hours/Week Percent of Respondents t-Stat P-value_________________________________________________1-10 18.7 -1.12 0.2611-20 14.0 -2.22 0.0321-30 10.7 -3.09 0.0031-40 32.7 1.66 0.1Over 40 24.0 The decision to enroll in online classes is not systematicallyrelated to hours worked per week.
Does the decision to take another online course dependon labor force activity? Answer: No Table 5_______________________________________________Hours/Wk Percent of respondents willing t-Stat P-valueto take another online course__________________________________________________1-10 89 -0.75 .4611-20 95 0.11 .9221-30 94 -0.08 .9331-40 90 -0.77 .44Over 40 94 The difference in means is not statistically significant at .05 and .01 level.
Null Hypotheses H03. There is no statistically significantrelationship between commuting time toschool and the decision to enroll in onlinecourses (Not Rejected).
H03. There is no statistically significant relationshipbetween commuting time to school and the decision toenroll in online courses (Not Rejected). Table 6 ____________________________________________________________Commuting Time Percent of(minutes) Respondents____________________________________________________________0-15 4416-30 30.731-45 17.346-60 5.3Over 60 2.7Contrary to expectations, commuting time does not systematically relate to thedecision to enroll online. Evidently, 74% percent of the students live within ashort distance from the school.
Commuting time and the willingness to takeanother online course (No Relationship isFound). Table 7____________________________________________________________________Commuting Time Percent of respondents willing t-Stat P-value(minutes) to take another online course________________________________________________________________0-15 95 -0.33 .7416-30 96 -0.32 .7431-45 73 -1.91 .0646-60 100 0.00 1Over 60 100 There is no statistically significant relationship between commuting time and thewillingness to take another online course.
Explaining the decision to enroll inonline coursesTable 8. __________________________________________________________________Took the online course primarily because it allowed me more flexibility in managing mytime and schedule________________________________________________________________Strongly agree 64%Agree 30%Strongly disagree 0.7%Disagree 5%The overriding motivation for taking online courses is flexibility in managing time. Ninety-four percent of respondents say so.
Null Hypotheses H04. There is no statistically significantrelationship between student satisfaction withthe educational experience and theinstructor’s social presence (Rejected).
H04. There is no statistically significant relationship betweenstudent satisfaction with the educational experience and theinstructor’s social presence (Rejected, t-stat = -4.43). Modeling Satisfaction with the Educational Experience by Logit The estimation sample is 1 – 150._______________________________________________________ Coefficient Std.Error t-value t-prob Constant 1.35239 0.2897 4.67 0.000 miss -1.64007 0.3701 -4.43 0.000 log-likelihood -89.6610156 no. of states 2 no. of observations 150 no. of parameters 2______________________________________________________ The dependent variable equals one if the respondent selected excellent, verygood, or good and equals zero otherwise. The independent variable, ‘miss’equals one if respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they missed not seeingand hearing the instructor. The t-stat of the coefficient is negative and highly
H04. There is no statistically significant relationship between studentsatisfaction with the educational experience and the instructor’ssocial presence (Rejected, t-stat = 2.82). Modeling Satisfaction with the Educational Experience by Logit The estimation sample is 1 – 150 ___________________________________________________________ Coefficient Std.Error t-value t-prob Constant 2.37308e-016 0.2236 0.00 1.000 ins 0.987387 0.3496 2.82 0.005 log-likelihood -96.3789935 no. of states 2 no. of observations 150 no. of parameters 2___________________________________________________________The dependent variable equals one if the respondent selected excellent, verygood, or good and equals zero otherwise. The independent variable, ‘ins’equals one if respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they learned a greatdeal about the instructor. The t-stat of the coefficient is positive and highlysignificant, thus decisively rejecting the null hypothesis.
H04. There is no statistically significant relationshipbetween student satisfaction with the educationalexperience and the social presence (Rejected, t= 3.67). Modeling Satisfaction with the Educational Experience by Logit The estimation sample is 1 – 150 ______________________________________________________________________Coefficient Std.Error t-value t-probConstant -0.374693 0.2770 -1.35 0.178group 1.31296 0.3581 3.67 0.000log-likelihood -93.5351378 no. of states 2no. of observations 150 no. of parameters 2___________________________________________________________ The dependent variable equals one if the respondent selected excellent, very good, or goodand equals zero otherwise. The independent variable, ‘group’ equals one if respondentsstrongly agreed or agreed that even though they were not physically in a traditionalclassroom they still felt that they were part of a group. The t-stat of the coefficient is positiveand highly significant, thus decisively rejecting the null hypothesis.
H05. There is no statistical evidence that studentsfeel isolated by the online experience (Rejected t =-4.52). Modeling Satisfaction with Educational Experience by Logit The estimation sample is 1 – 150 _______________________________________________________Coefficient Std.Error t-value t-probConstant 1.02165 0.2244 4.55 0.000isol -1.71480 0.3796 -4.52 0.000log-likelihood -89.5007031 no. of states 2no. of observations 150 no. of parameters 2_________________________________________________________ The dependent variable equals one if the respondent selectedexcellent, very good, or good and equals zero otherwise. Theindependent variable, ‘isol’ equals one if respondents strongly agreedwith feelings of isolation while taking an online course. The t-stat ofthe coefficient is negative and highly significant, thus decisively
Null Hypotheses H05. There is no statistical evidence that studentsfeel isolated by the online experience (Rejected). H06. There is no statistical evidence that studentsfind the online medium to be a poor way tocommunicate with the instructor (Rejected).
Null Hypotheses H07. There is no statistical evidence thatstudents find the online medium to bethreatening (Rejected). H08. There is no statistically significantrelationship between perceived learning andsocial presence in online education(Rejected).
Table 9. Focuses on Perceived Satisfactionwith the Educational Experience in Relationto Social Presence Table 9 shows descriptive statistics (means),i.e., the percent of students who rated theiroverall educational experience in the onlinecourse in relation to social presence andperceived satisfaction. Twenty-twoquestions from the instrument were selectedfor this purpose.
Table 9. Description 1. Students rated their overall educational experience intaking an online course as follows: Excellent (17%), VeryGood (19%), Good (24%), Satisfactory (31%), and Poor(8%). Question 1, column 2 shows that 50% of the students whorated their educational experience as excellent agreed withthe statement “Learned a great deal about the instructor.” Aswe move to the right we find the following numbers: 66, 52,40, and 0. We observe a tendency for the proportion of students wholearned a great deal about the instructor, to decrease as theirperception of the educational experience worsens.
Table 10. Description 1. The difference between each group mean andthose who rated their experience as poor, thebenchmark group, is examined and t-stats and p-values were calculated in order to test the nullhypothesis that the difference in group means iszero. 2. In question 1 (Learned a great deal about theinstructor), the t-stats shown in columns 2, 3, 4 &5, are significant, indicating that we reject thenull hypothesis that the difference in each groupmean relative to poor raters is zero.
Table 10:Results The main characteristics that distinguish the poor raters from the otherfour groups are as follows: Students tend to feel threatened Students tend to feel isolated They miss not seeing and hearing the instructor They do not feel part of group They are less motivated to participate and to learn, and in fact theyreport decreased learning They see the online educational experience as very different from thatof the classroom Finally, they were much less likely to enjoy the online course.
Table 11. Focuses on Perceived Learningin Relation to Social Presence Table 11 shows descriptive statistics (means),i.e., the percent of students who rated theamount learned in the online course inrelation to social presence. Nineteenquestions from the instrument were selectedfor this purpose.
Table 11 Students rated the amount they learned in the online courseas follows: Increased (29%), Increased Somewhat (10%),No Change (38%), Decreased Somewhat (16%), andDecreased (7%). Column 2 shows that of those students indicating that theamount learned increased, only 37% missed the instructor’spresence, as compared to 63% of those reporting that theamount learned decreased somewhat (column 5), and 100%of those who indicated that the amount learned decreased(column 6). We observe an inverse relationship between perceivedlearning and social presence; specifically, as perceivedlearning decreases, a larger percentage of students missedthe instructor’s presence.
Table 12 1. The difference between each group mean andthose who said that the amount learned decreased,the benchmark group, is examined and t-stats and p-values were calculated in order to test whether thedifference in means is statistically significant. 2. In question 1 (Learned a great deal about theinstructor), columns 2, 3, 4 & 5, the t-stats aresignificant, indicating that we reject the nullhypothesis that the difference in each group meanrelative to the benchmark group is zero.
Table 12: Results The main characteristics that distinguish the “leastlearners” from the other four groups are as follows: Students tend to feel threatened Students tend to feel isolated They missed not seeing and hearing the instructor They do not feel part of group Are less motivated to participate and to learn The online educational experience is very differentfrom that of the classroom.
Overall Results The results in tables 11 & 12 confirm thosereported in tables 9 and 10, and providestatistically significant evidence thateducational outcomes are adversely affectedby a diminution of social presence in onlineclasses.
Conclusions This work shows that in a statistically significantproportion of online students: The motivation to learn decreases Tend to feel isolated Tend to be threatened Miss not seeing and hearing the instructor Find the online medium to be a poor way to communicateand interact with others, and In fact, the report shows a decrease in perceived learning.All of the above underscore the importance of socialpresence in online education. This is an important issuethat educational leaders should take into account.
Recommendations 1. Training classes to prepare instructors to design quality online courses 2. Alerting students about the negative aspects of online learning and how toovercome them 3. Pre-testing students to determine if they are ready to tackle online courses 4. Instructors should encourage students to interact with others by assigning groupprojects, case studies and discussion questions via chat-room and discussion board 5. Instructors must have an active participation rule in classes in a way that studentsfeel the instructor’s social presence Informal gathering of instructors with students or among students 6. Use streaming videos to make sure the students feel the instructor’s socialpresence.
Recommendations for Further Study 1. A study could be conducted to include a larger sample ofstudents in the Lone Star College System in order to determinethe extent to which the results generalize to students in otherdepartments besides Business and Technology, and in otherlocations 2. A study could be conducted to include undergraduatestudents at the university level in order to ascertain if the resultsgeneralize to a larger cross section of students including juniorsand seniors. 3. A study could be conducted to include graduate students atthe university level in order to ascertain if the results generalizeto them as well.