<%BANNER%>

An Examination of Teaching Presence and the Sense of Community on Perceived Student Learning

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024233/00001

Material Information

Title: An Examination of Teaching Presence and the Sense of Community on Perceived Student Learning
Physical Description: 1 online resource (134 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Jinks, Susan
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: community, learning, online, predictors, presence
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Curriculum and Instruction (ISC) thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The purpose of the study was to determine if the constructs of teaching presence and the sense of community function as predictors of perceived student learning in an online course. Each participating online student completed an online survey comprised of an informed consent, an item regarding their perception of learning (Richmond et al., 1987), the Teacher Presence Scale (Shea et al., 2005), the Classroom Community Scale (Rovai, 2001), student and course characteristic questions, and open-ended questions. The responses were transformed into three variables following the procedures set out by the authors of each instrument. Survey results were analyzed using a multiple linear regression, a correlation matrix, and a series of t-tests and ANOVAs. The data brings to light the importance of both teaching presence and the sense of community in an online course because the two constructs were able to predict 45.1% of the variance for perceived student learning. There were two statistically significant group differences in the perceived student learning score. First, students enrolled in eight-week courses reported their learning higher than students enrolled in sixteen-week courses. Second, students over 49 reported their learning higher than students in the 20-29 age group. The findings and the implications from this study are an essential stepping-stone to the future of online learning. While the sample size from this study was small compared to the number of students enrolled in online courses around the world, the study was able to bring to light two valuable constructs that have a predictive relationship with student learning. This connection to student learning is invaluable. This research study found that teaching presence and the sense of community have the ability to predict 45.1% of the variance of perceived student learning. Simply put, student learning, irrespective of the format of the course, occurs through interactions with a teacher and interactions with students.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Susan Jinks.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Swain, Colleen R.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024233:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024233/00001

Material Information

Title: An Examination of Teaching Presence and the Sense of Community on Perceived Student Learning
Physical Description: 1 online resource (134 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Jinks, Susan
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: community, learning, online, predictors, presence
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Curriculum and Instruction (ISC) thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The purpose of the study was to determine if the constructs of teaching presence and the sense of community function as predictors of perceived student learning in an online course. Each participating online student completed an online survey comprised of an informed consent, an item regarding their perception of learning (Richmond et al., 1987), the Teacher Presence Scale (Shea et al., 2005), the Classroom Community Scale (Rovai, 2001), student and course characteristic questions, and open-ended questions. The responses were transformed into three variables following the procedures set out by the authors of each instrument. Survey results were analyzed using a multiple linear regression, a correlation matrix, and a series of t-tests and ANOVAs. The data brings to light the importance of both teaching presence and the sense of community in an online course because the two constructs were able to predict 45.1% of the variance for perceived student learning. There were two statistically significant group differences in the perceived student learning score. First, students enrolled in eight-week courses reported their learning higher than students enrolled in sixteen-week courses. Second, students over 49 reported their learning higher than students in the 20-29 age group. The findings and the implications from this study are an essential stepping-stone to the future of online learning. While the sample size from this study was small compared to the number of students enrolled in online courses around the world, the study was able to bring to light two valuable constructs that have a predictive relationship with student learning. This connection to student learning is invaluable. This research study found that teaching presence and the sense of community have the ability to predict 45.1% of the variance of perceived student learning. Simply put, student learning, irrespective of the format of the course, occurs through interactions with a teacher and interactions with students.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Susan Jinks.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Swain, Colleen R.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024233:00001


This item has the following downloads:


Full Text

PAGE 1

AN EXAMINATION OF TEACHING PRESENCE AND THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY ON PERCEIVED STUDENT LEARNING By SUSAN ELIZABETH JINKS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009 1

PAGE 2

2009 Susan Elizabeth Jinks 2

PAGE 3

3

PAGE 4

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I can attest that writing a dissertation is not an easy task. Th e task is even more difficult when mixed with starting a family, moving to anot her state, and starting a new career. With this in mind, I am most thankful to everyone w ho cheered me on and helped me overcome every hurdle I encountered. I would like to thank my husband, Kevin, who en couraged me to start a doctorate program and provided moral support thr oughout the journey. You had faith in me even when I had doubts. I would like to thank my two sons, Kyle a nd Grady, who joined our family during my course of study. You provided re asons to procrastinate while at the same time creating a purpose for completing my dissertation. I would like to thank my family, friends, and peers. I was motivated by your continual words of encouragement. I would like to thank the educat ional technology department at the University of Florida, who provided me with the definition and example of a scholar. Each of my fellow graduate students made me think harder than I have ever thought before. I would like to thank Erik Black who handed me the first article on the sense of community just because he thought I w ould find it interesting. I would like to thank my committee, Dr. Pack er, Dr. Dawson, Dr. Pace, and Dr. Vandiver, who understood the complexity of my life and its impact on the timeline for completing my program of studies. I was motivated by all of you and appreciate all of the time you put into my scholarly development. Thanks go out to Dr. Dawson who gave me the opportunity to teach undergraduate students which turned out to be an amazing experience. Thanks go out to Dr. Pace who agreed to join my co mmittee without ever meeting me in person so I appreciate your 4

PAGE 5

openness to help graduate student s. Thanks go out to Dr. Vandiver who introduced me to the culture of the University of Florida and supported my decision to start a doctorate program. Lastly, special thanks to Dr. Packer who pr ovided quick responses, clear communication, and constant encouragement. Without the help of Dr Packer writing a dissert ation from another state would have been impossible. Go Gators! 5

PAGE 6

TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................................... 4LIST OF TABLES ...........................................................................................................................9LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ........................................................................................................1 1ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................... .............12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ ..14Study Questions ......................................................................................................................16Significance of the Study ........................................................................................................17Moving the Research Agenda Forward ..................................................................................18Methodology ................................................................................................................... ........19Definition of Terms ................................................................................................................20Limitations ................................................................................................................... ...........20Delimitations ................................................................................................................. ..........21Organization of the Study .......................................................................................................212 REVIEW OF LITERATURE .................................................................................................22Introduction .................................................................................................................. ...........22Seven Principles of Good Practi ce in Undergradu ate Education ....................................23Moores Theory of Tran sactional Distance .....................................................................24How People Learn ...........................................................................................................27Community of Inquiry ............................................................................................................28Cognitive Presence ..........................................................................................................30Social Presence ................................................................................................................31Teaching Presence ...........................................................................................................32Research Focused on Teaching Presence ........................................................................34The Teaching Presence Scale (TPS) ................................................................................35Research Employing the Teaching Presence Survey ......................................................37Increasing Teaching Presence .........................................................................................39Sense of Community ...............................................................................................................40Definitions of Community ...............................................................................................42Research on Community .................................................................................................44Classroom Community Scale ..........................................................................................45Research Employing the Classroom Community Scale ..................................................47Benefits of Community ...................................................................................................51Perceived Student Learning ....................................................................................................52Conclusion .................................................................................................................... ..........55 6

PAGE 7

3 METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................................. 58Introduction .................................................................................................................. ...........58Population and Sample ......................................................................................................... ..59Minimum Samp le Size ........................................................................................................... 59Instrumentation ............................................................................................................... ........60The Classroom Commun ity Scale (CCS) ........................................................................62Teaching Presence Scale (TPS) .......................................................................................65Characteristics of the Student and Course .......................................................................67Data Collection Process ..........................................................................................................67Data Analysis ..........................................................................................................................68Organizing the Data .........................................................................................................68Data Analysis by Question ..............................................................................................69Question 1: How do teaching presence a nd the sense of community function as predictors for perceived student learning in an online course? ............................69Sub Question A: What is the strengt h of relationship between teaching presence (IV) and the sense of community (IV)? .................................................71Sub Question B: What is the strengt h of relationship between teaching presence (IV) and perceived student learning (DV)? ...........................................72Sub Question C: What is the strength of relationship between the sense of community (IV) and perceive d student learning (DV)? .......................................734 PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA ..................................................................77Study Research Questions ......................................................................................................77Demographic Reporting of the Sample ..................................................................................77Answering Question One ........................................................................................................78Answering the Research Sub-Questions .................................................................................81Further Analysis ......................................................................................................................83Number of Online Courses ..............................................................................................84Length of Online Course (8 or 16 weeks) .......................................................................84Cohort Membership .........................................................................................................84Degree Seeking vs. Non-Seeking ....................................................................................84Course Completion ..........................................................................................................85Online Courses Completed ..............................................................................................85Gender ........................................................................................................................ .....85Age ........................................................................................................................... .......86Distance from UF Campus in Gainesville .......................................................................86Learning Style .................................................................................................................86Multiple Inte lligences ......................................................................................................87Student insight based on open-ended response questions ...............................................875 CONCLUSION .................................................................................................................. .....97Review of the Study ................................................................................................................97Deconstructing Study Findings ...............................................................................................98Teaching Presence and Sense of Community .................................................................98 7

PAGE 8

Perceived Student Learning ...........................................................................................101Implications and Recommendations for Practice .................................................................103Increasing Sense of Community and Teaching Presence ..............................................103Instructional Design and Organization ..........................................................................104Directed Facilitation ......................................................................................................105The Age of the Student ..................................................................................................107The Length of the Online Course ..................................................................................108Ease of Replication ........................................................................................................109Recommendations for Research ...........................................................................................110All Can Learn ................................................................................................................110Gender ........................................................................................................................ ...111The Influence of the Online Teacher .............................................................................111Finding Other Variables the Influenc e Perceived Student Learning .............................111Strengthening the Current Study ...................................................................................112Interesting Observations ................................................................................................113Summary ....................................................................................................................... ........113 APPENDIX A Survey Instrument ........................................................................................................... ......116B Informed Consent ............................................................................................................ .....126BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................................134 8

PAGE 9

LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1 Teaching presence and the sense of community ................................................................573-1 Instrument descriptions and authors ..................................................................................753-2 Distribution methods considered .......................................................................................753-3 Coding system for de mographic questions ........................................................................764-1 Perceived student learning responses.................................................................................904-2 Teaching Presence Scale responses ...................................................................................914-3 Classroom Community Scale responses ............................................................................934-4 Descriptive statistics .................................................................................................... ......934-5 Coefficients .............................................................................................................. ..........944-6 Multiple regressi on model summary .................................................................................944-7 ANOVA ..................................................................................................................... ........944-8 Pearson product-moment correlation between variables ...................................................944-9 Participant characteristics based on current enrollment .....................................................944-10 Course characteristics based on length of course ..............................................................944-11 Participant characteristics based on enrollment in a cohort ...............................................954-12 Participant characteristic s based on type of student ..........................................................954-13 Participant characteristics base d on successfully completing course ................................954-14 Participant characteristics base d on number of courses completed ...................................954-15 Participant characteristics based on gender .......................................................................954-16 Participant characteristics based on age .............................................................................954-17 Summary of post hoc (Tukey) ANOVA resu lts for significant differences based on age ........................................................................................................................... ...........954-18 Participant characteristics based on driving distance to campus .......................................96 9

PAGE 10

4-19 Participant characterist ics based on learning style .............................................................964-20 Participant characteristics based on multiple intelligence .................................................965-1 Practical application of equation ......................................................................................115 10

PAGE 11

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CMC Computer Mediated Communication CCS Classroom Community Scale COI Community of Inquiry TPS Teaching Presence Scale 11

PAGE 12

Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy AN EXAMINATION OF TEACHING PRESENCE AND THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY ON PERCEIVED STUDENT LEARNING By Susan Elizabeth Jinks May 2009 Chair: Colleen Swain Packer Major: Curriculum and Instruction The purpose of the study was to determine if the constructs of teaching presence and the sense of community function as predictors of pe rceived student learning in an online course. Each participating online student completed an online survey comprised of an informed consent, an item regarding their perception of learni ng (Richmond et al., 1987), the Teacher Presence Scale (Shea et al., 2005 ), the Classroom Commu nity Scale (Rovai, 2001), student and course characteristic questions, and open-ended questions. The responses were transformed into three variables following the procedures set out by the authors of each instrument. Survey results were analyzed using a multiple linear regression, a corr elation matrix, and a series of t-tests and ANOVAs. The data brings to light the importa nce of both teaching presence and the sense of community in an online course because the two constructs were able to predict 45.1% of the variance for perceived student learning. Th ere were two statistically significant group differences in the perceived student learning score. First, students enrolled in eight-week courses reported their learning higher than students enrolled in sixteen-week courses. Second, students over 49 reported their learni ng higher than students in the 20-29 age group. The findings and the implications from this st udy are an essential stepping-stone to the future of online learning. While the sample size from this study was small compared to the 12

PAGE 13

13 number of students enrolled in online courses around the world, the study was able to bring to light two valuable constructs that have a pred ictive relationship with student learning. This connection to student learning is invaluable. This research study found that teaching presence and the sense of community have the ability to predict 45.1% of the variance of perceived student learning. Simply put, stude nt learning, irrespective of the format of the course, occurs through interactions with a teacher a nd interactions with students.

PAGE 14

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Susan Patrick (Marikar, 2006), President of the North American Council on Online Learning stated, I think that in the future, there wont be any differentiation between where the education comes from. Were not going to ca ll it online learning, were just going to call it learning. This sentence captures one of the ma jor changes occurring in the educational field, that of online education. However, in order to effectively use the online medium, it is critical that constructs intertwined with online education be explored. This dissertation is such a study as it explored two critical components and th eir influence on perceived student learning. Specifically, this dissertation surv eyed students enrolled in onlin e courses to determine if two constructs: teaching presence and the sense of co mmunity, can predict perceived student learning in an online course. The first construct, teaching presence, has re ceived considerable attention in research studies and has been shown to be a key factor in successful online courses (Dennen, 2006; Shea, Li & Pickett, 2006; Garrison & Cleveland-Inne s, 2005). Using the term teaching presence rather than teacher presence acknowledges that the dissemination and creation of knowledge may be provided by students in the course, in addition to being provi ded by the teacher. The element of teaching presence has been conceptual ized to have three co mponents: instructional design and organization; direct instruction; and facilita ting discourse (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 1999). The construct of teaching presence is dr awn from the Community of Inquiry (COI) framework, which was developed by Garrison, A nderson, and Archer (1999) to study online learning. In the Community of Inquiry framewor k, the authors suggest that social presence, cognitive presence, teaching presence, and their in terrelationships are e ssential for a successful 14

PAGE 15

higher educational experience. Teaching presence remains the least-researched presence, even though its importance is considered to be equal to that of both cognitive presence and social presence (Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006). The second construct, sense of community, includes the feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to th e group, that they have duties and obligations to each other and to the school, and that they possess shar ed expectations that members educational needs will be met thr ough their commitment to shared learning goals (Rovai, 2002b, p.322). According to Rovai, a cl assroom community is a specific type of community with a bounded educatio nal setting and a specific purpose for learning that exists for a finite period of time (Rovai, 2001). When co mmunity is viewed as what people do together, rather than where they do it, community b ecomes separated from geography (Wellman, 1999), making it a reasonable goal for an online course. A students sense of community as described by Rovais research has two parts: learning a nd connectedness (Rovai, 200 2b). Rovai describes learning as the feeling that knowledge and meaning are activ ely constructe d within the community, that the community enhances the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and that the learning needs of its members are be ing satisfied (Rovai, 2002b, p.322). Connectedness focuses on the trust, feeling of belongi ng, and cohesion of a group (Rovai, 2002b). The constructs of teaching presence and co mmunity are recurring themes in research on higher education and online learni ng. For example, these themes are embedded in Chickering and Gamsons (1987) seven principles of good pr actice in undergraduat e education, Moores (1989) theory of transactional distance, and th e 1999 National Academy of Sciences report How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experiences and School. This research suggests that teaching presence and community are important aspects to consider when examining the complexities 15

PAGE 16

associated with the practices of the teacher, the interactions (learner-content, learner-learner, and learner-instructor) that occur w ithin an educational setting, and the learning environment. The roles of teaching presence and the sense of community have not been fully explored in online courses. Some studies (Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006; Mandernach, Gonzales & Garrett, 2006; Shea, Li & Pickett, 2006) have focused on th e effects of teaching presence, while others (Liu, Magjuka, Bonk & Lee, 2007; Ouzts, 2006; Rovai, 2001) have focused on the effects of community; however, few studies (Shea, Swan, Li, & Pickett, 2005) have focused on both, simultaneously. Moreover, the outcome of student learning is an essential focus in educational settings; accordingly, research aimed at informi ng online teachers or administrators of higher education should consider the imp act of the online students learning. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine if teaching presence an d the sense of community act as predictors of perceived student learning in online learning courses. Study Questions This study focuses on one question with three s ub-questions. In additio n, an analysis of the student and course characteristics of the sample will be reviewed to determine if there are any statistically significant differences between gr oups. The questions guiding the study are: 1. How do teaching presence and the sense of community function as predictors for perceived student learning in an online course? a. What is the strength of the relationship between teaching presence and the sense of community? b. What is the strength of the relationsh ip between teaching presence and perceived student learning? c. What is the strength of the relationship between the sense of community and perceived student learning? 16

PAGE 17

Significance of the Study In the fall semester of 2007, the number of st udents enrolled in at l east one online course reached nearly 3.9 million students (Allen & Se aman, 2008), an increase of 12.9% from the previous year. While online learning is experi encing a growth rate of 12.9% annually, overall higher education is only experiencing a growth rate of 1.2% annually (Allen & Seaman, 2008). The rate of growth for online learning validates the demand for administrators at colleges and universities to offer online courses. The challenge for teachers working in the online environment is to offer equivalent or even supe rior, learning experiences to online students as they offer to traditional, face-to-face students. New technologies have changed the availability and the functionality of communication and learning tools available for online courses. These new technologies provide ways for communities of l earners and teachers to in teract regardless of physical location (Wilson & Stacey, 2003). The use of the Internet as a medium for l earning has rapidly spread across colleges, universities, and K-12 education. As more and more institutions use the online environment for teaching, it is necessary for an established resear ch agenda to guide the developments of online learning. In order for the research to keep pace w ith enrollment, a shift in the research agenda is necessary. Research needs to move beyond compar ative studies of tradit ional and online courses to research studies that seek to better understand the online le arning environment and how the medium affects the role of the online teacher, the knowledge a student gains from a course, and the development of community within the course (Shea, Li, & Pickett, 2006). This study informs online teachers and stak eholders about the possible predictive relationship between teaching pr esence and the sense of commun ity with students perceived learning in an online course. The results from this study provide a research base from which educators can draw as they make decisions about online course design and pedagogy to enhance 17

PAGE 18

the quality of the online learning experience for ev ery student. This study provides evidence that a relationship exists between teaching presence and learning; hence, teachers can gain pedagogical insight to increase teac hing presence. As a relationship exists between the sense of community and learning, teachers can implement pedagogy proven to promote the development of community. This study also shows there is interaction between teaching presence and the sense of community, so teachers can work to emphasize both constructs in their course in order to maximize student learning. In addition to info rming online teachers, the study results can help administrators at colleges and universities deve lop rationales for support st ructures that promote quality-learning experiences for every student, de sign training specific for online learning, and develop methods for evaluating online learning. Moving the Research Agenda Forward The novelty of online learning has passed, while anecdotal reports of single courses were important at the advent of online education, such reports no longer provide enough information to make valid and reliable claims that can be generalized and conveyed to teachers. In addition, comparison studies between online and traditional courses are expansive, and typically conclude that the medium has at worst a neutral impact on student performance (Arbaugh & Hiltz, 2005). Arbaugh and Hiltz (2005) suggest that future research should move away from comparison studies and focus rather on qualitie s of effective online learning. After conducting a vast review of studies focusing on teaching presence and sense of community, the areas of research design which must be addressed incl ude: the low number of participants (Waltonen-Moore, Stuart & Newton, 2006; Picciano, 2002; Anderson, Rourke, Garrison & Archer, 2001; Rovai, 20 01; Lally & Barrett, 1999), the lo w number of participants in sub-categories (Wang, Sierra & Folger, 2003), the poor return rate on instruments (Ouzts, 2006; Stein, Wanstreet, Calvin, Overtoom, & Wheaton, 2005), the poor description of the methodology 18

PAGE 19

(Lally & Barrett, 1999), and populations drawn from a single course, discipline or institution (Waltonen-Moore et al., 2006; Picciano, 2002; Rovai, 2001). Movi ng forward, future research should aim to study a large population drawn from multi-course, multi-discipline, and/or multiinstitutional samples (Arbaugh & Hiltz, 2005), wh ile designing methods that yield a good return rate on instruments. This study attempted to ad dress several of the i ssues associated with moving the online education research agenda forward. Methodology A quantitative study was conducted applying a multiple linear regression model, correlation coefficients, a series of T-tests, and a series of ANOVAs to analyze the data collected from an online survey of comprised of three pa rts: Teaching Presence Sc ale (Shea, Li, Swan, & Pickett, 2005), the Classroom Community Scale (Rovai, 2001), a nd perceived student learning (Richmond, Gorham, & McCroskey, 1987). The onlin e survey consisted of fifty-one questions, which include: one informed consent questi on, one question measuring perceived student learning, twenty questions measuring the sense of community, seventee n questions measuring teaching presence, eleven questions gathering student and course information, and two openended questions. For this study, the dependent variable was perceived student learning. The independent variables were teaching presence and the sense of community. The analysis of the multiple regression equation helped determine whether teaching presen ce and the sense of community can act as predictors of perceived student learning in an online course. The correlation coefficients explained the strength of relationship between (a) teaching presence and the sense of community, (b) perceived student learning a nd teaching presence, (c) and perc eived student learning and the sense of community. The t-tests and the ANOVAs determined statistically significant group differences in the scores fo r perceived student learning. 19

PAGE 20

Definition of Terms DISTANCE EDUCATION AND LEARNING. A general term that includes online learning. In addition, the term may include correspondence courses and other forms of learning when the learners are separa ted by a distance. ONLINE EDUCATION AND LEARNING. Courses taught by means of the Internet. Blended and hybrid classes will not be considered as online education and learning. SENSE OF COMMUNITY. A feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, that th ey have duties and obligations to each other and to the school, and that they possess shared expectations that members educational needs will be met through their commitment to shared learning goals (Rovai, 2002b, p.322). TEACHING PRESENCE. One element of the Community of Inquiry model which describes the three functions of a teacher: instructional design and organi zation, direct instruction, and facilitating discourse (Garris on, Anderson & Archer, 1999). Limitations This research study relies on correlations. At the end of the study, the relationship between the teaching presence and the sense of communi ty (IVs) and perceived student learning (DV) was determined, but the underlying causal mechanis m is not definitive. In addition, there is always a possibility of other variables influe ncing perceived student learning that were not included in the model. Further, knowing how teaching presence and sens e of community can act as predictors of perceived student learning is informative to st akeholders of online ed ucation; however, this research study does not aim to determine the te aching practices or technologies that positively affect teaching presence and the sense of community in an online course. The return rate for the survey was less than 20% with a sample size under 150. Therefore, additional studies should be perfor med in order to increase the re turn rate and sample size. Finally, the research uses a non-random conveni ence sample. This study will need to be replicated with other samples to determine whethe r the results are generalizable or if the results 20

PAGE 21

21 demonstrate an anomaly with graduate education st udents in general or with graduate students in the College of Education at th e University of Florida. Delimitations The study was conducted during the fall semester of 2008 using online students enrolled in courses at the College of Education at the Univers ity of Florida. All st udents enrolled in an online course after the four-day add/drop period were eligible to complete the survey. Identifying student data such as the students degree program were not tracked to his or her specific response set. Therefore, more explicit analyses could not be made about characteristics of the study population. Organization of the Study In the remaining chapters of this disserta tion, the theoretical fram ework that guided the design of this study from Chapter 2 is offered. In addition to the theoretical framework, a review of the current literature on teaching presence a nd the sense of community is presented along with an explanation of studies that have implemented the instruments employed in this study. The history of the instruments is also covered in Chapter 2. The validity and reliability of the instruments, as well as a description of how each research question is answered, will be the focus of Chapter 3. The data analysis is presented in the order of the questions in Chapter 4. Last, a discussion of the findings, the implications and recommendations for future studies is described in Chapter 5. Following Chapter 5 will be a c opy of the informed consent, a copy of the instrument, and the bibliography.

PAGE 22

CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE Introduction The recurring themes of teaching presence and the sense of community are evident in research on higher education and on line learning. The first constr uct, teaching presence, is one element of the Community of Inquiry model (G arrison, Anderson & Archer, 1999) that describes the three functions of a teacher : instructional design and organi zation, direct instruction, and facilitating discourse. The second construct, se nse of community, describes the feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that member s matter to one another and to the group, that they have duties and obligations to each other and to the school, and that they possess shared expectations that members educational needs will be met thr ough their commitment to shared learning goals (Rovai, 2002b, p.322). The themes of teaching presence and the sense of community are also embedded in research su rrounding higher education, including: Chickering and Gamsons (1987) seven principles of good pr actice in undergraduat e education; Moores (1989) theory of transactional distance; and the 1999 National Academ y of Sciences report How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experiences and School (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999). This research suggests that teaching presence and the sense of community are important aspects to consider when examining the complexitie s associated with the roles and actions of the teacher, the interactions of the class (learner-content, learner-learner and l earner-instructor), and the learning environment. The seven principl es of good practice in undergraduate education imply that teaching presence and the sense of co mmunity are important aspects within the roles and actions of the teacher. Moreover, the theory of transactional dist ance identifies teaching presence and the sense of community as important aspects of the interactions of the class. Furthermore, How People Learn demonstrates the importance of teaching presence and the sense 22

PAGE 23

of community in the creation of a learning enviro nment. These theories and frameworks provide the foundation for studying teaching presence and the sense of community simultaneously, as well as the basis for studying the use of teach ing presence and the sense of community as predictors of perceived student learni ng in an online course (Table 2-1). Seven Principles of Good Practi ce in Undergraduate Education In 1987, Chickering and Gamson pub lished a list of seven prin ciples of good practices in undergraduate education which have collectively become a benchm ark for effective teaching and learning in higher education (Robertson, Grant, & Jackson, 2005). It should be noted that, although published by Chickering and Gamson, th e list was generated by a group of scholars known for research on the impact of the college experiences and organizational, economic, and policy issues in higher educati on (Chickering & Gamson, 1999). The list of principles of good practices includes: encourag ing student-faculty contacts; encouraging cooperation among students; encouraging active le arning; giving prompt feedback; emphasizing time on task; communicating high expectations ; and respecting diverse tale nts and ways of learning (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). Twenty years later, this list of good practices is still a valuable tool for teachers and provides a foundation for the design and implementation of traditional, face-to-face courses, as well as for research on online courses (Hutchins, 2003; Newlin & Wang, 2002) and research in graduate educati on (Buckley, 2003; Graham et al., 2000). The reader will notice that in each of the seven practices the roles and actions of the teacher are described. The teacher should en courage student-faculty contact; encourage cooperation among students; encourage active lear ning; give prompt feedback; emphasize time on task; communicate high expectations; and resp ect diverse talents a nd ways of learning. Additionally, one indirect result may include students reporting that community was developed through the encouragement of st udent and faculty contact, th e cooperation among students, and 23

PAGE 24

the use of active learning. Seve ral of these principles share ch aracteristics w ith both teaching presence and the sense of community within the roles and actions of the teacher in online courses. Moores Theory of Transactional Distance While the seven principles of good practice in undergraduate educat ion were originally designed for the traditional, face-to-face course Moores theory of tr ansactional distance was originally designed for a distance education course targeting adult learners of all ages. In 1980, when the theory was published, the typical di stance education course was a correspondence course. While much has changed in the field of distance education, the theo ry is still a valuable tool for studying any type of distance educat ion, including online lear ning (Lally & Barrett, 1999). The theory of transactional distance arti culates the distance of understanding and perceptions, otherwise described as the psychological and communi cation space that needs to be crossed between the teacher and th e student in a distance educati on course. The space is not a geographical separation, but ra ther a pedagogical concept (Moo re, 1997). The transactional distance has to be overcome by teachers and students if effective learning is to take place (Moore & Kearsley, 1996). If not crossed, this space can potentially create misunderstandings between the teacher and the student which may lead to a student feeling disconnected. When the transactional distance is small, there is greater student involvement and more open communication, which in turn leads students to feel a sense of connectedness and a sense of community. The theory of transactional distance includes dialogue, structure, and student autonomy. Dialogue refers to the interaction between th e teacher and the student when one gives instruction and the othe r one responds (Moore, 1991). Dial ogue may be influenced by the 24

PAGE 25

teachers philosophy of learning, th e teachers personality, the stude nts personality, the subject of the course, or the course environment (Moore, 1997). The structure is described as the elements of the course design, which includes the rigidity or flexibility of the course objectives, teaching strategies, and the evaluation methods (Moore, 1997). In 1996, Moore and Kearsley added student autonomy to the theory of transactional distance. Stude nt autonomy may be an interaction with dialogue a nd structure, and includes the level of student control over the course. The challenge for the distance education teacher is to find the appr opriate opportunity and quality of dialogue between the in structor and the student, as well as the appropriate structure for learning material for each student enrolled in the course. In 1989, Moore suggested that transactional distance and student autonomy should be further studied with a focus on the interactions of the course. These interactions include that of the learner with the content; the learner with other learners; and th e learner with the instructor. All of these interactions provide opportunities for student engageme nt. While all three types of interactions are important, they may operate di fferently when differing media are involved in teaching. Interaction with content, peers, and the teacher have been occurring in traditional, face-toface classrooms for many years. Therefore, teac hers will not need to change their theoretical framework for teaching or their pedagogical knowledge; they may only need to focus on how the medium of the learning environment affects these interactions. With this in mind, Moore notes it is important that educators organize their course s to address each type of interaction and to ensure the inclusion of interactions which are mo st appropriate for the specific subject area and needs of the learners (Moore, 1989). 25

PAGE 26

Learner-content interaction is the cornerstone of education. Students n eed to interact with the course content in order to change their understanding, change their perspective, and change the cognitive structures in their minds (Moore, 1989). In the earli est forms of distance education, courses tended to focus solely upon learner-content inte ractions with the unde rstanding that adult learners are often self-directed in their learni ng approaches. Prior to the advent of online learning, the lack of available technologies made learner-content interactions the most valuable occasions for student learning. These interactio ns occur as a product of the course design and course facilitation. Learner-learner interacti ons can occur with or without the teacher. This type of interaction can be a valuable resource in the learning pr ocess (Wallace, 2003; Moore, 1989) because it acknowledges and values the expertise of the stud ents. Traditional student s, as well as online students, value and benefit from interactions w ith their peers (Wallace, 2003). Learner-learner interactions can occur through di scussion forums, instant messages, emails, and blogs. This list of tools is growing with the number of social networking technologies. The interactions between the le arner and the instructor are often viewed as essential by most learners and as highly desirable by most educators (Moore & Kearsley, 1996, p.129). The teacher is seen as a motivator for the student to learn, a knowledge provider, and an evaluator of the students knowledge gained. The teacher ma y counsel, support, and encourage the student throughout the course. The level of interaction may depend on the pe rsonality of the teacher, the experience of the teacher, and the format of the course (Moore, 1989). The interactions between the student and the teacher have a larger effect on perceived learning when compared to the interactions with peers (Garrison & Cleveland-I nnes, 2005). Learner-teacher interactions in an 26

PAGE 27

online course can occur through assessment, discussion boards, email, chat sessions, and phone conversations. The role of community is embedded within the learner-learner intera ction, while teaching presence is established in th e learner-teacher and the learnercontent interactions. Moores theory of transactional distance suggest that both teaching presence and the sense of community are valuable; however, they appear to be distinct and separate aspect s of the interactions that take place in online courses. How People Learn While Moore (1989) focused on the importance of interactions in distance education courses, the 1999 National Academy of Sciences report concentrated on the learning environment. In How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experiences and School the editors (Bransford et al., 1999) suggest that new know ledge on how people learn should affect the design of the learning environment. The editors concluded that educators need to reassess what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is assessed. Additionally, Bransford et al. (1999) indicate that learning environments need to simultaneously suppor t a learner-cen tered, knowledgecentered, assessment-centered, and community-centere d approach to learning. These four goals of the learning environment are connected to the processes of learning, transfer, and competent performance (Bransford et al., 1999). First, a learner-centered environment is one that appreciates the knowledge and experience that students bring to the learning environment. The teacher considers the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs of the le arner in their lesson design, class discussions, and assignments. Second, a knowledge-centered environment cons iders how students make meaning of new information and subsequent transfer by focu sing on the types of activities that promote understanding and metacognition. Next, an assessment-centered environment provides 27

PAGE 28

opportunities for students to receive feedback as a part of the lear ning process. This feedback can be formal or informal, and can be teacher-dir ected or self-assessed. Students need to receive feedback in order to adjust their understanding and to clear up misunderstandings. Finally, a community-centered environment can refer to the classroom community, the school community, or the connections to the community in which th ey live. Aspects of community need to be considered in designing a learning environment because communities have different norms and these norms may have an impact on the learning process. All aspects of the class environment can be c onsidered a part of teaching presence because the teacher sets the tone of the class, designs the learning experience, and assesses student learning. The sense of community is espoused through the description of a learner-centered and a community-centered learning environment. In addition, the sense of community that a student feels may affect how students learn a nd interact within the course. The concepts presented in How People Learn suggest a correlation between the construct of teaching presence and the construct of the se nse of community when focusing on the learning environment of an online course. The theories and frameworks presented in the study provide a strong foundation for continuing and expanding the research agenda on teaching presence and the sense of community in online learning. In addition, the research provides strong evidence of a correlation between the two constructs, as well as of the need for teaching presence a nd the sense of community to be valued practices of higher educ ation and online learning. The fo llowing sections will elaborate on the current literature related to teach ing presence and the sense of community. Community of Inquiry The term teaching presence is drawn from the Community of Inqui ry (COI) framework, which was developed by Garrison, Anderson, and Arch er (1999) to study online learning. In the 28

PAGE 29

Community of Inquiry framework, the authors sugge st that three presenc es (social, cognitive, and teaching) and the interrelationships among them are essential for a successful online experience in the highe r education context. The COI model builds on the work of Garrison (1997) where he argued that the Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) format re presents a new era, a post-industrial age of distance education, due to its ability to create a collaborative community of learners asynchronously. The COI model was developed fr om a review of literature on communications and distance education focusing on issues of te xt-based communication. In addition, the model, which is founded on the work of John Dewey, is c onsistent with constructivist approaches to learning. The model expands Garrisons (1997) argument by suggesting that CMC can only meet its potential if it includes social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. In a true Community of Inquiry where all presence s are included, the tone of the messages is questioning but engaging, expressi ve but responsive, skeptical but respectful, and challenging but supportive (Garrison et al., 1999, p.96). In addition to describing the prerequisites for a successful high e ducational experience (Garrison et al., 1999, p.87), the model also provi des a conceptual framework for studying CMC and computer conferencing learning experiences A framework for studying CMC and computer conferencing is necessary to broaden the research on the new media used to deliver online courses. Educators may use the COI framework to study their own course de sign in an effort to develop a collaborative community of learners ra ther than an online course designed only for a means of downloading information from a teacher The purpose of the COI framework is to provide a uniform methodology and possibly a theoretical foundation for studying online learning (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007). 29

PAGE 30

In the COI model, Garrison a nd his colleagues advocate for th e teacher and students to be active members in the learning community fo r the purpose of enhancing the learning for everyone. The learning experience consists of both the quality of the experience and the outcomes from the experience. Cognitive Presence The most fundamental element of the COI mode l and the hallmark of success in higher education is cognitive presence (G arrison et al., 1999). Garrison et al. (1999) describe cognitive presence as the extent to which the participants in any particular configuration of a community of inquiry are able to construct meaning th rough sustained communication (p.89). The element of cognitive presence in a CMC format is based on the practical inquiry model, a general model of critical thinking deve loped by Garrison (1991). The practical inquiry model is based on the ideas of Dewey (1933) and his conception of practic al inquiry in which reflection was seen as the heart of the thinking process but was framed by pe rplexing and confused s ituations initially and a unified or resolved situation at the close (p.19). The practi cal inquiry model starts when a student enters a state of dissona nce (triggering event) and then moves into an exploration of information to make sense of the situation (expl oration). From there, the student begins to integrate the information or knowledge into a cohere nt idea (integration) whic h he or she uses to apply the new idea (resolution) within the context of the course. The process is cyclical, so that when the student does not encounter success in th e application of the new idea, he or she may need to start anew the process of expl oration, integrations, and resolution. Cognitive presence interacts with both social and teacher presence in a CMC format. The cognitive presence of a student may be affected by their peers interactions (social presence) or may be affected by the design or facilita tion of the course (teaching presence). 30

PAGE 31

While cognitive presence is highlighted as th e purpose for students enrolling in an online higher education course, social presence and teachi ng presence are more critical for establishing, supporting, and enhancing the educational experience. Social Presence Social presence is described as the ability of participants in the Co mmunity of Inquiry to project their personal characteristics into the community, thereby presenting themselves to the other participants as real peopl e (Garrison et al., 1999, p.89). Social presence in an online course is inherently different from a face-to-face c ourse due to the constraints of the Internet. In an online course, students typica lly present themselves through te xt or representative symbols created through a manipulation of te xt, often referred to as emoticons. In the COI model, social presence is observed through emotional expre ssion, open communication, and group cohesion. The primary role of social presence is as a supportive structure to cognitive presence. When a teacher or a student thinks the affec tive goals (course enjoyment) of the education experience are just as important as the cognitive goals, then social presence has a direct role in the success of the educa tional experience. When the affective goals are deemed less important than the cognitive goals by the teacher or the students then social presence has an indirect role in supporting cognitive presence through the facilitati on of critical thinking. The facilitation of critical thinking may occur asynchronously thro ugh a students discussion board posting or through a students response to a discussion board posting by another student. Each method provides the student with an oppor tunity to express an opinion or a new idea while providing the supporting arguments and the rationale for his or her thinking. The research suggests that social presence is a strong predictor of c ourse satisfaction (Shin, 2003; Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997; Hackman & Wa lker, 1990) and inte nt-to-persist (Shin, 2003), and has a positive relationship with perc eived learning (Hackman & Walker, 1990). In 31

PAGE 32

addition, social presence leads to the feelings of inclusion, control, and affection by creating a learning environment perceived as warm, co llegial, and approachable (Rourke, Anderson, Garrison & Archer, 1999). The presence of these feelings facil itates the building of trust and self-disclosure within the online enviro nment (Gunawardena, Nolla, & Wilson, 2001). Furthermore, social presence has an ability to instigate, sustain, and support cognitive and affective learning objectives by making group intera ctions appealing, engaging, and intrinsically motivating (Rourke et al., 1999). Social presence may create favorable c onditions for sharing and challenging ideas through critical discourse, but it doe s not, in and of itself, directly create cognitive presence or facilitate a deep learning appr oach. High levels of learning are dependent less on the quantity of interaction than on the quality, or substance, of interactions (Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005); however, when social presence is lacking, the par ticipants see the course as impersonal and the amount of information shared with others decreases (Leh, 2001) as a result. The emphasis on social presence is often a part of the course design and course facilitation (teaching presence). The teacher of the course ha s a direct role in deciding how to support social presence and how to project his or her own presence in the course. Teaching Presence The third presence from the Community of Inqui ry model, teaching presence, has received considerable attention in research studies, and has been shown to be an important element in successful online courses (Dennen, 2006; Shea, Li & Pickett, 2006; Garris on & Cleveland-Innes, 2005). The term teaching presence has been chosen over teacher presence because it may be provided by students in the course ra ther than solely by the individua l with the title of teacher. The element of teaching presence has been conceptualized to have three components: instructional design and organi zation, direct instruction, a nd facilitating discourse. 32

PAGE 33

Anderson et al. (2001) suggests that the functi on of teaching does not change when courses move online; however, its manifestation looks quite different online. In tr aditional, face-to-face courses, the presence of the teacher is estab lished by his or her physical self upon entering the classroom. In online courses, the physical self is not observed; rather the teachers actions inform students that the teacher is in the room. The first component of teaching presence, inst ructional design and organization, includes setting the curriculum; designing the methods for teaching and learning; establishing time parameters; utilizing the medium effectively; and establishing netique tte. In the second component, the teacher facilitates the discourse w ithin the course. This can include identifying areas of agreement and disagreement; seek ing to reach consensus and understanding; encouraging, acknowledging, and reinforcing st udent contributions; setting the climate for learning; drawing in participants and prompti ng discussion; and assessing the efficacy of the process. The facilitation of discourse has been found to be the fa ctor most strongly associated with a students sense of community and learning (Shea, Li, Swan & Pickett, 2005). The last component is direct instruction, which includes presenting content and questions; focusing the discussion on specific issues; summarizing discussion; confir ming understanding; diagnosing misconceptions; injecting knowledge from dive rse sources; and responding to technical concerns. The research on the three-component model of teaching presence suggested by Garrison et al. (1999) is still in its infancy. At this point, researchers have reported contradictory findings. One study reported that the thre e components are distinct bu t correlated (Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006), while other researchers (Shea et al., 2006 ; Shea et al., 2005) point to a two-component model where direct instruction and facilitation discourse are combined and renamed directed 33

PAGE 34

facilitation to show the amalgamation that oc curs between the two components when courses are taught online. While text-based, asynchronous online cour ses pose a unique challenge for the development of effective teaching presence, research has demonstr ated that it can be achieved (Shea, 2006; Shea et al., 2005; Swan, 2003). A lthough the components of teaching presence may not be clear, it is clear that teaching presence can be a binding element in creating a community of inquiry for educational purposes (G arrison et al., 1999) because teaching presence affects how the students write their messages and to whom (Dennen, 2005). Furthermore, teaching presence is directly related to a student s sense of community (Shea et al. 2005; Wang et al, 2003), their satisfaction with the instructor (Shea et al., 2003), and their satisfaction with the course (Shea, Picket, & Pelz, 2003). Most importantly, teaching presence is directly related to students perceived learni ng achievement (Shea et al., 2003; Picciano, 2002; Shin, 2003; Swan, 2001) and contributes to a deep approach to learning (Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005). All of the research indicates th at teaching presence is an important element for meeting the needs of students enrolled in online courses. Research Focused on Teaching Presence Within the COI framework, teaching presence remains the least researched presence, even though it is considered to be of equal importa nce as cognitive presence and social presence (Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006). One such study by A nderson and colleagues (2001) set out to develop a conceptual framework to understand, m easure, and improve teaching presence. The conclusions were drawn from a content analysis of the discussion forum based on the message unit from two courses. The data analysis was completed by two raters; using Cohens kappa, the interrater reliability for the first course was k=.84 and the second course was k=.77. The pattern of teaching presence varied considerably betwee n the two courses. While one teacher had ample 34

PAGE 35

postings, the second course had more teaching presence identifiers per post. Moreover, the second teacher used student moderators during the course and therefore had fewer postings during the weeks when student moderators were in us e. Overall, this study demonstrated that the methodology used in the study was useful for its simplicity, although the methodology would be difficult to use with a larger sample. Garrison and Cleveland-Innes ( 2005) found similar differences in interacti ons in online courses and drew two conclusions: the quantity of interactions is not as important as the quality of the interactions, and the quali ty of the postings by students must be a specific design goal of the course. Unlike previous studi es which used content analysis, this study used a survey called the Study Process Questionnaire, which seeks to m easure how students strategize their learning. The survey was completed by 75 students enrolled in four online courses. The conclusions from the study suggest that while a high level of inte raction may be a reflection of group cohesion, it does not directly relate to the facilitati on of meaningful learning and understanding. Furthermore, the design of the course and the te aching style of the teacher can support the shift in learning approach from surface learning to deep learning, where a student embraces and digests the learning material while searching for meaning. The Teaching Presence Scale (TPS) At this point, the development of methodologi es for studying teaching presence is just as important as the conclusions drawn from th e studies themselves. While the original methodology for studying the Community of Inquiry was content analysis, current research is moving toward quantitative studies using survey s which will support larger sample sizes and a variety of populations. Content analysis is a valu able tool for an in-depth review of discussion forum postings; however, the methodology is ti me-consuming and labor intensive. One alternative to content analysis is the Teach ing Presence Scale (TPS), which was developed by 35

PAGE 36

Shea, Li, Swan & Pickett (2005), based on the Comm unity of Inquiry framework (Garrison et al., 1999), and created in consultation w ith one of the frameworks orig inal authors. The TPS is a seventeen-item survey designed to elicit response for all three components of teaching presence, which include instructional design and organization, facilitating discourse, and direct instruction. The instructional design and organization items in this section of the TPS survey include setting curriculum, designing methods, establishing time parameters, utilizing the medium effectively, and establishing neti quette. These questions equate with several of Chickering and Gamsons principles which include: encouragin g active learning, emphasizing time on task, communicating high standards, a nd giving prompt feedback (Sh ea et al., 2003). Furthermore, Moores concepts of learner-con tent and learner-instructor in teractions are embedded in the instructional design and organization items. Facilitating discourse, the sec ond section of the survey, includes the following indicators: identifying areas of agreement and disagreement; seeking to reach a consensus and understanding, encouraging, acknowledging, and rein forcing student contri butions; setting the climate for learning; drawing in participants and prompting discussion; and assessing the efficacy of the process. These questions equa te with Chickering and Gamsons principles of encouragement of contact between students and faculty and encouraging cooperation among students (Shea et al., 2003). In addition, facilitating discourse is critical in Bransford et al.s concepts of knowledge-centered and communitycentered environments (Shea et al., 2003). Furthermore, facilitating discourse includes Moor es concepts of learner-content interactions, learner-instructor interactions. The third section of the TPS survey, direct instruction, includes th e following indicators: presenting content and questions; focusing th e discussion on specific issues; summarizing 36

PAGE 37

discussion; confirming understanding; diagnosing mispercepti ons; injecting knowledge from diverse sources; and responding to technical concerns. Th ese questions correspond to Chickering and Gamsons principles of encourag ement of contact betwee n students and faculty and giving prompt feedback (Shea et al., 2003). In addition, direct instruction is critical in Bransford et al.s concepts of knowledge-centered envir onments (Shea et al., 2003). Furthermore, facilitating discourse includes Moore s concepts of learner-c ontent interactions and learner-instructor interactions.. For this study, the TPS provides the measur e for the independent variable, which is teaching presence. Chapter 3 provides further information on the TPS, including details on the reliability and validity of the instrument and directions for scoring the instrument. Research Employing the Teaching Presence Survey The first published study (Shea et al., 2005) deploying the Teaching Presence Survey included a multi-institutional study which surveyed a total of 2,036 student in 32 colleges. The students who completed the survey represented 470 instructors and 581 co urses, yielding a 93% return rate. The study employed an online survey consisting of the Cla ssroom Community Scale, the Teaching Presence scale, and demographic vari ables. The survey was available to students through the online course management environm ent, and the students received emails as reminders to complete the survey. The purpose of the study was to explore the role of teaching presence and its relationship w ith the sense of community in an online course. The Cronbach Alpha was reported as .94 for the CCS and .97 fo r the TPS. Conclusions were drawn from a factor analysis and a multiple linear regression an alysis. The factor analysis revealed that the construct of teaching presence has two identifiable factors, which were la beled (a) instructional design and organization and (b) directed facili tation. The term d irected facilitation represents an amalgamation of th e two components of teaching pr esence referred to as direct 37

PAGE 38

instruction and facilitating discourse. The mu ltiple linear regression analysis indicated that student recognition of effective directed facilitation, instructi onal design and organization, and student gender each played a role in predicting the students overall sense of learning community (Shea et al., 2005). Shea et al. (2006) drew the same conclusions in their study, which validated the TPS. In the validation process, the researchers were able to reach 1,067 students across 32 colleges, yielding a 47% response rate. Students were sent an email of prenotification informing them that they may be prompted to take a survey within the course management system. The prompt to take the survey in th e course management system was ra ndomly generated. The resulting multiple regression model concluded that 78% of the variability of the teaching presence construct was accounted for by (a ) instructional design and or ganization and (b) directed facilitation. The students in the study reported a higher sense of community when the instructor reinforced student contributions, injected their own knowledge, and confirmed student understanding (Shea et al., 2006). The authors discussed possible re asons that only two factors loaded instead of the hypothesized three factors. These reasons included the need for better indicators of direct instruction in online courses and that direct instruction may not be necessary in an online course. While Shea et al. (2005) and Shea et al. (2006) concluded that a two factor model fit their data, Arbaugh and Hwang (2006) concluded that the original three factor model fit their data. The data was drawn from 190 MBA students who completed the Teaching Presence Scale, representing a 57.6% response rate The researchers used a conf irmatory factor analysis to validate the original-three component model of teaching presence. Although the three components were found to be distinct, they ne vertheless are highly corr elated, which suggests 38

PAGE 39

that teachers must be able to fulfill all three components: instructional design and organization, direct instruction, and facil itating discourse (Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006). The study helps in the development of a conceptually grounded and empirically sound basis (Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006, p. 16) for examining the distance learning process. In an effort to further develop insight into the faculty development process meant to foster greater understanding of teaching presence, Shea, Pickett, & Pelz (2003) studied the data collected from online students enrolled in th e SUNY learning network. Students completed the TPS, which was disseminated through email and course announcements. The data was drawn from 6,088 students with a 31% response rate. The an alysis of the data demonstrated that when students reported high levels of any of the teach ing presence components (effective instructional design and organization, effective direct instruction, or effective facilitating discourse), they also report high levels of satisfaction and learning. While students rated their classmates almost as high as their instructor on eff ective discourse facilitation, the correlations between scores for their classmates discourse facil itation and their satisfaction and reported learning were less so. This supports the conclusion that students can pl ay a vital role in teaching presence, but they cannot replace the teacher. Shea et al. (2003) drew the conclusion that the best approach to ensure quality training and develo pment of online learning teachers is to focus on the principles and research of Bransford et al. (1999), Chickering and Gams on (1987), Garrison et al. (1999) and Anderson et al. (2001). Increasing Teaching Presence While the research is overwhelmingly positive in valuing teaching presence in an online course, the research available on pedagogy and ac tions that increase teach ing presence in an online course are contradictory and underdevelope d. In terms of discussion forums, a teacher can increase teaching presence by the clarity and specificity of the in structions (Swan, 2002a) 39

PAGE 40

and the percent of the course grade based on discussion resp onses (Swan, 2002b). While Palloff and Pratt (1999) warn teachers to avoid too much participation, Picciano (2002) believes that active participation in the course helps teacher s avoid the perception of being invisible. Mazzolini and Madison (2007) reminds teachers that they do not need to respond to every student, while Garrison and Clevela nd-Innes (2005) suggest that teachers role is to moderate and shape the discourse and to encourage students to participate in the discussion. Additionally, the teacher can increase teachi ng presence by increasing immedi acy (Baker, 2004; Richmond et al., 1987) unless the culture of the students doe s not value immediacy (McCrosky, Sallinen, Fayer, Richmond & Barraclough, 1996). Furthermore, the clarity and consistency of the course design, the teacher contact, and the teacher feedback can all help to increase teaching presence in an online course (Swan, 2002a). As more and more research focuses on teaching presence in online course, the specific pedagogical decisions, theoretical basis, and organizational practices that increase teaching pres ence will become clearer. Sense of Community Similar to the research on teaching presence, the construct of community is overwhelmingly positive for online courses; however, the pedagogical decisions and organizational practices for increasing a students sense of community are still unclear. The theoretical foundation for valuing the sense of community in a face-to-face course or an online course is drawn from the theo ry of social constructivism. Historically, the teacher has been considered the center of all learning in a classroom; however, one theory of learning, soci al constructivism, considers lear ning to be social in nature. Social constructivists believe that students learn just as much from one another and from interacting with the environment as they lear n from their teachers. Furthermore, Vygotsky (1978) purports that learners do not learn in isolation from ot hers. Social constructivists, 40

PAGE 41

including Vygotsky, believe that reality does not exist prior to its social invention and that knowledge is a human product that is socially and culturally constr ucted; therefore, the learnerlearner interactions and the learner-environmen t interactions are deem ed essential. The social constructivist classroom places an emphasis on knowledge construction and collaboration rather than knowledge reproductio n and independent learning (Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky (1978) believes that c ognitive functions can be explai ned as products of social interactions and that learning is not simply the accumulation of new knowledge by learners; it is the process by which learners are integrated into a knowledge community. Therefore, the classroom activities are learnercentered and include group interac tions as a means of learning. Finally, the instructor moves away from the role of the sage on the stage to that of a facilitator of learning, a collaborator, and an active participant in the learning process. From a social constructivist perspective, a classroom should be viewed as a community of learners in which all members, teachers and students alik e, should feel a sense of belonging as they work together to construct knowledge. One can begin to understa nd the importance of stud ents feeling a strong sense of community when envisi oning learning as a social proce ss with individuals engaged in social activities, viewed through a social construc tivist lens. This kind of teaching can nurture a sense of community (Rovai, 2005) Online teachers who believe in a social constructivist approach to learning must reconceptualize how a sense of community can be created when moving instruction from a face-to-face course to an online course where learners are separated geographically from each other and intera ct asynchronously with each other. While there has been an abundance of research on the sense of community in traditional courses, few studies have focused on the sense of community in online courses (Liu et al., 2007; Ouzts, 2006; Shea et al., 2005; Rovai, 2002a). The emphasis of community in online courses 41

PAGE 42

stems from three current trends: 1) theories of learning focused on interaction and collaboration of students, 2) technologies th at provide occasions for communi cation and collaboration, and 3) courses founded on theories of learning and t echnology (Wallace, 2003). Historically, learnerlearner and learner-instructor inte ractions have provided students with social, emotional, and academic support in traditional courses while developing community in traditional courses (Rovai, 2002a). As the popularity and demand for online courses con tinues to grow, it is important to understand how learne r-learner and learner-instructor interactions take place in online courses, as well as, to understand the importance of community experienced by the students enrolled in online courses. Higher education should move beyond simple access to information (Rovai, 2007) to pedagogy that assists students in constructing knowledge individua lly and with their peers. While engagement with class members and the formation of community are important in all higher education courses, it is even more vital in online courses, where a ttrition rates are higher (Picciano, 2002). Teachers need to understand the development of community in an online course to make course design and pedagogy decisions. Studies (Liu et al., 2007) have demonstrated that building communities in online c ourses is not as intuitive as advocates have suggested. In fact, researcher s (Liu et al., 2007) have suggest ed that communities cannot develop on their own without careful planning, continued support, and intentional tasks and activities to develop communities. Definitions of Community The common elements of classroom community de finitions include four dimensions: spirit, trust, interaction, and learning (Rovai, 2001). Spirit is the recognition of membership in a community and the feelings of friendship, c ohesion and bonding that develops between the learners. Trust describes a will ingness of students to rely on one another and the extent to which 42

PAGE 43

the learners care about the other members of th e community. Interacti on includes the quantity and quality of students talking to one another whether it is synchronous or asynchronous. Finally, the learning is the fee ling that knowledge and meaning ar e being construc ted within the course. According to Rovai, a classroom community is a specific type of community with a bounded educational setting, a specific purpose for le arning, and a finite period of time (Rovai, 2001). Learning communities include the teacher and the students, although the teacher has a responsibility for setting the cl imate of the class and nurturing the development of community within an online course (Mandernach, G onzales & Garrett, 2006; Rovai, 2003). Palloff and Pratt (1999) questio ned how community can be fo stered among learners who are physically separated from each other. Yet, when community is viewed as what people do together, rather than where or through the m eans in which they do them, community becomes separated from geography (Wellman, 1999) making it a reasonable goal in a traditional or online course. Findings from several research studies (Rovai, 2003; Wallace, 2003; Rovai, 2002a. 2002b; Lally & Barrett, 1999) suggest that commun ity can be constructed and nurtured in an online course using a course management syst em. New internet-based technologies have changed the availability and the functionality of tools available for creating a community in online courses. These new technologies, comm only called web 2.0 technologies, provide ways for communities of learners to interact regardless of physical location (Wilson & Stacey, 2003). Several factors impact the sense of community in online courses. These factors include the student-instructor ratio, the trans actional distance, the social pr esence, the instructor immediacy, lurking, social equality, collaborative learning, group facilitation, self-d irected learning, small 43

PAGE 44

group activities, teaching styles and learning styles and the number of students enrolled in the course (Rovai, 2002a). Research on Community Research on community in online courses has followed a similar timeline as research on teaching presence in online courses. Early rese arch used qualitative methods or mixed methods until a valid and reliable quantitative instrument was designed. Liu et al. (2007) used a case study approach including data drawn from semi-str uctured interviews, a si xty-five item survey, and content analysis based on fr equencies of online collabora tion, communication, and social interaction strategies. The study focused on community in an online MBA program, with twenty-eight faculty members, twenty second-year students, and a total of twenty-seven courses. The data revealed that the sense of commun ity is positively related to teaching presence, learning engagement, feelings of having learned a substantive amount of new content, and overall satisfaction with quality of the online course. Li u et al. (2007) concluded that the findings indicate a need for a systematic effort to build a sense of learning community, starting from perceptual changes from online instructor s to providing substantial training support and best practices for community building to progr ammatic plans for three levels of community building (p.22). Similarly, the need for training was one conclu sion of Skinner (2007), who used discussion board analysis to explore the interactions betw een students in an online course. The study pulled data from nine discussions acro ss two classes, for a total of 6 18 messages. Messages were coded using the interaction analysis model, which code s messages as either lower levels of knowledge construction or higher-order learning. The data revealed that most stude nts enjoyed a sense of learning together as they felt comfortable shar ing their knowledge and th eir confusions within the learning community. The remaining students reported a lack of connect ion, trust, and even 44

PAGE 45

fear. These students reported th at they feared information from their peers was inaccurate and they feared they were being misinterpreted through the text -based, asynchronous discussions. The author (Skinner, 2007) believ es the results demonstrate the im portance of the teachers role in designing discussions, which must include setting the purpose of the discussion and keeping courses goals in mind while being sensitive to student experiences. When communities of learners fail, the construction of knowledge in the community is weaken ed (Skinner, 2007). Another study (Rovai, Wighting & Liu, 2005) th at focused on the strength of community found that fully online students feel a weaker se nse of community then do face-to-face students, which suggests that online students are more lik ely to dropout. In addition, non-traditional students feel more connected when compared to younger students. While differences existed in the subgroups for the construct of sense of community, no differences were found between online and face-to-face groups in terms of percei ved learning. The findings are based on an analysis of 279 university students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate educational programs. The response rate for the survey was 83.3%. Of the 279 students, almost 90% were female. The students in the study completed the Classroom and School Community Inventory (CSCI) and a self-report of perceived learni ng (McCrosky et al., 1996). The authors concluded that several actions by administrators and faculty are needed to increase a students sense of community. Some examples of these actions may include designing and conducting online courses based on a culturally responsive form of social constructivism (Rovai, Wighting & Liu, 2005, p.370); forming cohorts; focusing on interactions that oc cur between students, peers, and the teacher; and integrating students in student affairs activities. Classroom Community Scale The limitation of the current methodologies sp arked the development of the Classroom Community Scale (CCS) by Rovai (2002a). The CCS was developed for educators to use and 45

PAGE 46

has been designed to be teacher-friendly by keepi ng the survey short, making the scoring easy to complete, and making the interpretation simple. R ovai believes that if educators have access to an effective tool for measuring community in a l earning environment, then they will be better equipped to conduct research on how best to design and deliver instruction at a distance in order to promote community and, by implication, to promote satisfaction and persistence among students (Rovai, 2002a, p.198). The Classroom Community Sc ale was designed to measure the strength of community experienced by participants in an educational setting. The definition for sense of community draws on research by McMillan and Chavis, Sarason, and Unger and Wandesman (Rovai, 2002b), which is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, that they have dut ies and obligations to each other and to the school, and that they possess shar ed expectations that members educational needs will be met through their commitment to shared learning goals (Rovai, 2002b, p.322). Since the development of the CCS, many re searchers (Ouzts, 2006; Shea et al., 2005; Rovai, 2003, 2002a, 2002b) have employed the survey to study community in an online course. An interesting element to note is that on the CCS there is a significant difference between female scores and male scores (Rovai, 2002a); with females scores being greater than male scores. The learning style of the student (Rovai, 2003), the c ourse content (Rovai, 2002a), and the length of the course (Shea et al., 2005) have been found not to affect the total CCS score. For this study, the CCS provides the meas ure for the sense of community as the independent variable. Chapter 3 provides furt her information on the CCS, including details on the reliability and validity of the instrument and directions for scoring the instrument. 46

PAGE 47

Research Employing the Classroom Community Scale In the original study implem enting the Classroom Community Scale, Rovai (2002) found that community has two factors. The first factor was named connectedness which is the feelings of the community of st udents regarding their connectedne ss, cohesion, spirit, trust, and interdependence (Rovai, 2002a, p.206) The second factor was named learning, which represents the feelings of community members regarding interaction with each other as they pursue the construction of understanding and the degree to which members share values and beliefs concerning the extent to which their educational goals and expectations are being satisfied (Rovai, 2002a, p.206-207). Connectedness accounted for 42.8% of the variance for community, while learning accounted for 11.24% of the variance of community. The conclusions were drawn from a data set in cluding 375 students enrolled in 28 courses, representing a response rate of 66%. With the design of the CCS completed and tested for reliability a nd validity, Rovai (2002a) went on to study the relationship between sense of community and cognitive learning in an online educational environment. The study included 314 students, drawn from twenty-six graduate education and leadership courses with a 66% return rate Students completed the CCS and a self-report of perceived cognitive learning developed by Richmond et al. (1987). Students had four weeks to complete the survey. Throughout the four weeks, they received emails with directions and encouragement to complete the su rvey. A multiple linear regression analysis was employed, using each sub scale of the CCS (learning and community) as the independent variables and perceived cognitive learning as the dependent variable. The results of the multiple regression concluded that 43% of the variance of perceived cogni tive learning was accounted for by the two subscales of the CCS, suggesting a re lationship between the sense of community and perceived cognitive learning. Rovai (2002b) concluded that 1) online graduate students can feel 47

PAGE 48

connected, 2) students with str ong sense of community report great er levels of learning, 3) female students feel a greater sense of communi ty, and 4) ethnicity and course content do not affect the sense of community. In addition, classroom community is strong when learners: a) feel connected to each ot her and to the instructor, b) manifest the immediate communication behaviors that re duce social and psychological di stance between people, c) share common interests and values d) trust and help each other, and e) actively engage in two way communication, and f) pursue comm on learning objectives (Rovai, 2002b, p.322). In another study, Ouzts (2006) disseminated th e CCS to students in order to study the quality of online learning at a college. She surveyed forty-eight courses, including eleven graduate course and thirty-seven undergraduate courses. A to tal of 227 students completed the survey, which represented a 27.7% response rate. Of the stude nts who completed the survey, 43.6% were graduate students a nd 55.9% were undergraduate st udents. A large percentage (88.1%) of the completed surveys were submitted by females; however, the percentage reflected the enrollment of the courses. The survey was disseminated by the director of the university outreach school to students through a course announcement appearing in the online learning environment. Additionally, reminders to complete the survey were sent via email. Students had access to complete the survey for one month. Students enrolled in multiple courses were asked to only complete the survey once and to only th ink about one course as they completed the survey. The reliability was tested using Cronbach Alpha, which yielded .93 for the entire survey. When students completed the survey, they were as ked whether they wanted to participate in a follow-up interview. In order to choose the participants for the fo llow-up interviews, students were divided into three categories: high, medium, and low sense of community. Students who received scores more than one standard deviation above the m ean were considered to have a high sense of community, while students who had scores more than one standard deviation below the mean 48

PAGE 49

were categorized as having low sense of community. The study determined that 15% of the students felt a high sense of comm unity, 10% of the students felt a low sense of community, and the remaining 75% of the students fe lt a medium sense of community. The follow-up interviews painted two completely different pictures of online courses. The students categorized as low sense of community reported: poor teacher characteristics, low student to student connection, individual assignments, poor qua lity of learning, and overall dissatisfaction with the course. Additionall y, the students did not receive feedback on assignments, did not understand the expectations, did not feel conn ected with the instructor, and did not like the class. Furthermore, the stude nts reported that the te acher was disengaged or simply unavailable. While students cited many negative aspects to the class, the students nonetheless reported that they had learned from the course. The students who received high sense of communi ty scores painted the opposite image of online learning. Five themes emerged from the interviews: good teacher characteristics, strong student connection related to assi gnments, a change in personal pe rspective, quali ty learning, and satisfaction. The teacher was described as a positive force in the class, interactive, present, open, honest, and human. Furthermore, the teacher was sa id to have guided instruction and spent time with the class. Students interact ed with other students and with the instructor through discussion and group work. Ouzts (2006) concluded that online courses which combine new web 2.0 technologies and social constructivist learning activ ities can facilitate the feeling of connectedness and can put to rest concerns about quality le arning experiences. Moreover, st udents sense of community is related to increased satisfaction in online learning. 49

PAGE 50

Another study employing the CCS was comple ted by Dawson (2006), who set out to study the sense of community within undergraduate and graduate online course in Australia. The CCS was implemented in three phases. The first phase provided a chance to see how students would react to the wording of the surv ey; certain educational terms are used differently in the United States and Australian educationa l systems. The second step wa s a pilot study of 160 students. The final phase included 464 students from 25 course s, with a mix of students enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate courses. Th e CCS was disseminated through the course announcement section of the online learning envi ronment. Additionally, email was used for reminders to complete the survey. The response ra te for the CCS was 23%, with a large majority (84%) of the students being female. In additi on to the CCS, data for communication frequencies was tracked through the online lear ning environment. Dawson (2006) suggests that students who communicate more with their peers and teach ers feel a higher degree of community. The importance of the role of the teacher on the students sense of community is further confirmed by Shea et al. (2005) and Shea et al. (2006). Both studies employed an online survey consisting of the CCS, the Teaching Presence Scal e (TPS) and some demographic variables. Conclusions were made from a factor analysis and a multiple linear regression analysis. The multiple linear regression analysis revealed that 62% of the total variance of learning community could be accounted for by the teaching presence fact ors. The results of bot h studies suggest that a relationship exists between teaching presence and the sense of community. Additionally, the studies concluded that demogra phic factors of length of course, age, employment status, reason for taking an online course, physical distance fr om campus and previous online experience did not make a significant difference on the sense of community score. 50

PAGE 51

Another study (Rovai & Wighting, 2005) c ontributed to the body of literature on community by investigating the re lationship between the feelings of alienation and the feelings of community using the Dean Alienation Survey and the CCS. The survey included 117 students representing a 93% return rate The canonical correlation provid ed evidence that an inverse relationship exists between the feeling of alie nation and the feeling of community. Rovai and Wighting (2005) concluded that a lienation with society can exer t a dampening effect on sense of community within virtual environment and can possibly lead to low student achievement and student attrition (p.107). Lastly, Rovai and Ponton (2005) set out to explore the relationship between classroom community and student learning using five variab les. Classroom community was made up of the subscales for the CCS and the mean number of student postings per week, while student learning was based on the students total points and th e students perception of learning measured by Richmond et al.s (1987) perceive d learning question. The classr oom community variables were found to be related to the student learning variab les, which provides empirical evidence that the sense of community and student learning are hi ghly related in online learning (Rovai & Ponton, 2005). Further, the scores of African-Americans we re significantly lower on all scales compared to caucasians, demonstrating that an achievement gap is present in online, asynchronous courses. Benefits of Community The benefit of students fee ling a strong sense of community has been proven through research. First, a sense of community has the abi lity to attract and retain online learners (Rovai, 2002a, 2002b). Next, there are positive correlat ion between the sense of community and perceived learning (Liu et al., 2007; Rovai, 2002b), course satisfact ion (Liu et al., 2007; Ouzts, 2006), quality of learning (Ouzts, 2006), and good teaching (Ouzts, 2006). Students benefit from community by experiencing a greater sense of well being and by accessing a larger circle of 51

PAGE 52

peers that are available for assistance (Rovai, 200 1). Furthermore, research suggests that when the feeling of community is strong, the flow of information increases (Rovai, 2001) and the students persistence increas es (Tinto, 1993). The sense of community has been inversely correlated with the feeling of alienation (Rovai & Wighting, 2005), and the feeling of isolati on (Rovai, 2002b), and the feeling of burnout (Rovai, 2002b). Most importan tly, drop-out rates are inversel y related to the sense of community (Rovai, 2002b). Administrators and teachers in higher education institutions have expressed interest in promoting all the elements of education that are correlated with community and decreasing all the elements of education that are inversely correlated with community. In addition to the correlation with teaching presence (Shea et al., 2006; Shea et al., 2005, Ouzts, 2006) the sense of community has been found to have a significant relationship with perceived cognitive learning with two studi es (Rovai & Ponton, 2005; Rovai, 2002b). Perceived Student Learning For the current study, students provide a self-rep ort of their learning which is based on the response for one question developed by Rich mond, Gorham and McCroskey (1987). The perceived learning question has been used alone (Rovai, 2002b) and as a series of questions (Rovai & Barnum, 2003) in order to measure a students perception of learning. Richmond et al. (1987) created the self-reported questions for perceived learning by asking students to answer two questions. 1) On a scale of 0-9, how much did you lear n in the class, with 0 meaning you learned nothing and 9 meaning you learned more than in any other class youve had?; and 2) How much do you think you could have learned in the class had you had the ideal instructor? (Richmond et al., 1987) By subtracting the score of the first questi on from the second question, the authors created a new variable called learning lo ss. The learning loss variable was intended to remove any 52

PAGE 53

bias that might exist for students th at were forced to take the class or if the student disliked the course content (Richmond et al., 1987). Richmond et al. (1987) reported almost identical scores for the learning loss variable and the first ques tion used alone. Severa l studies have employed the perceived learning question with out the learning loss variable because of the similarity of the scores. Chapter 3 provides further information on the perceived student learning item, including the reliability and validity of the item as well as directions for scoring the item. Following the initial study, McCroskey, Sa llinen, Fayer, Richmond and Barraclough (1996), deployed a questionnaire including the perceived student learning question and other questions regarding immediacy. The questionnaire was distributed to undergraduate students in Australia, Finland, Puerto Rico and the Un ited States. The study provided evidence that different cultures have different needs and e xpectations of immediacy. In one country, the immediacy variable predicted fo rty-six percent of the variance of perceived student learning, while in another country the immediacy variab le only predicted twenty-five percent of the variance of perceived student lear ning. While the difference is rath er large, the direction of the relationship is identical. This identical and positive relationshi p is the key to understanding the practical implications of the study. While ther e are differences between cultures and countries, the study concluded that th e teachers immediacy is a factor in the students perceived learning from the course. Baker (2004) expanded the immediacy and pe rceived cognitive learning research by examining the instructor verbal immediacy, a ffective learning, and c ognitive learning in an online course. The studied included 145 on line students and deployed an online survey comprised of the Gorham verbal immediacy scale, the McCroskey et al. a ffective learning scale, and the Richmond et al. (1987) cognitive learning scale. Baker found a moderate correlation 53

PAGE 54

between immediacy and perceived learning. Students who rated their instruct or as more verbally immediate expressed higher levels of learning. In another study, Rovai (2002) used the perc eived learning question to assess perceived learning in an online course and the Classroom Community Scale to measure the sense of community. The results of this study s uggest no significant diffe rence by gender on the perceived student learning item, although women re ported slightly higher levels of perceived cognitive learning. In addition, Rovai (2002) re ported no significant difference across ethnicity for perceived cognitive learning. Furthermore, the study concluded that students with a stronger sense of community tend to report a greater level of perceived cognitive learning. Rovai and Barnum (2003) employed a survey including the perceived learning question, the learning loss measure, and a th ird question to measure perceived learning: On a scale of 0-9, with 0 meaning you learned nothing and 9 meaning you learned more than in any other course youve had, how much do you think you could have learned in this course if it had been a traditional face-to-face course that met regularly in a classroom? The questions were posed to 528 graduate students enrolled in 19 online gradua te courses. A total of 328 students completed the online survey, for a response rate of 62.24%. In addition to the perceived cognitive learning questions, the researchers reviewed two measures of interactivity : active interaction and passive interactions. Active interactions represent the number of postings, while passive interactions represent the number of i ndividual instances of access to the course discussion forums. The data from the research provided evidence of signifi cant differences in perceived cognitive learning across online courses, sugge sting a need for quality assurance in distance education courses. In addition, the researchers found th at students perceived learning in an online course was positively related to quantitative measures of course interactions leading them to conclude that a 54

PAGE 55

self-reported measure is a valu able and accurate tool for research. Through this study, Rovai (2003) expanded the perceived cogn itive learning questions from two to three, while expanding the research agenda to compare a students pe rspective of his or he r learning online with a students perspective of his or her learning in a traditi onal, face-to-face course. Conclusion Learning is a fundamental part of higher e ducation, which makes the outcome of learning an important consideration for research studies. For the current study, th e belief is that the perception of learning is more impor tant than a final course grade and that college students have a good sense of what they have learned from a c ourse (McCroskey et al., 1996; Richmond et al., 1987). Teaching presence and the sense of community ha ve been studied separately (Liu et al, 2007; Dawson, 2006; Ouzts, 2006; Rovai, 2003, 2002; Swan, 2001) and together (Shea et al., 2006; Shea et al., 2005). Both teaching presence and the sense of community have independently been found to be important aspect s of the success of stude nts in online courses (Liu et al., 2007; Ouzts, 2006; Shin, 2003; Picciano, 2002; Rovai, 2002a; Swan, 2001). Several studies (Shea et al., 2006; Sh ea et al., 2005) have suggested a relationship between teaching presence and the sense of community, noting a significant link between the students sense of learning community with their recognition of effective instru ctional design and directed facilitation on the part of their course instructors. In addition, research in the area of online learning suggests a positive relationship between the sense of community and perceived student learning (Rovai & Ponton, 2005; Rovai, 2002b). The constructs of teaching presence and the sense of community are important aspects to consider when examining the complexities associat ed with the learning environment, practices of the teacher, and the interactions that occur within an online course. The current literature is 55

PAGE 56

deficient of studies that revi ew teaching presence and the se nse of community simultaneously while focusing on student learning. The research presented on te aching presence implies that teachers must be cognizant of how they organize the course, present curriculum to the students, and present themselves so that students feel th eir presence within an asynchronous course. The research on the sense of community implies that students can feel a sense of community in an asynchronous course. These feelings can increas e the flow of information and a students persistence in completing the course. Students are ab le to feel the presence of the teacher and the presence of a community, even when separated ge ographically from their te acher and their peers. Hence, an examination of the vital connection between the teaching presence and the sense of community with the students perception of learning is greatly needed. 56

PAGE 57

Table 2-1. Teaching presence and the sense of community Teaching Presence Sense of Community 7 principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education Encourage student-faculty contact Encourage cooperation among students Encourage active learning Give prompt feedback Emphasize time on task Communicate high standards Respect diverse talents and ways of learning Theory of Transactional Distance Learner-Content Interactions Learner-Instructor Interactions Learner-Learner Interactions How People Learn Learner-Centered Environment Knowledge-Centered Environment Assessment-Centered Environment Community-Centered Environment 57

PAGE 58

CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Introduction This study explored how the constructs of t eaching presence and the sense of community act as predictors of perceived student learning in an online course. To accomplish this, a descriptive study using quantitative methods was conducted utilizing a multiple linear regression model, correlation coefficients, t-tests, and ANO VAs to analyze the data collected from an online survey comprised of six parts with a total of 51 items (Table 3-1). Multiple linear regression analysis is a st atistical method for studying the relationship between a dependent variable and two or more i ndependent variables (Sha velson, 1998). In this study, the multiple linear regression analysis determined whether teaching presence and the sense of community act as predictors of per ceived student learning in an online course. Correlation coefficients described the strength of relationship betw een two variables. In this study, the three correlation coeffi cients generated were (1) th e correlation be tween teaching presence (IV) and the sense of community (IV), (2) the correlation between perceived student learning (DV) and the sense of community (IV ), and (3) the correla tion between perceived student learning (DV) and teaching presence (I V). Additionally, several T-tests and ANOVAs were conducted to determine if group differences are prevalent in the value for perceived student learning. This chapter describes the design of the study including the populat ion, sample size and sampling procedures. Further, a description of each instrument utilized in the study will provide details of the instruments validity and reliabi lity. Finally, the data co llection process and the data analysis process will be explained. 58

PAGE 59

Population and Sample The study was conducted within the College of E ducation at the University of Florida. The College of Education began to offer on line degree programs in 2004. On average, 27 students enroll in each online course. The length of each course is either 8 weeks or 16 weeks. In the fall semester of 2008, online courses were offered in the following departments: Educational Administration a nd Policy, Special Education, an d the School of Teaching and Learning. Within the School of Teaching and Learning, two different online Curriculum & Instruction degrees were offered. These degr ees are in the program areas of Educational Technology and Teacher Leadership for School Improvement. This research study used a non-random conve nience sample. At the beginning of each online course, students have four days to add or drop the course. All students enrolled in online courses after the add/drop period in the College of Education for the 2008 fall semester were emailed an announcement about the option to part icipate in the study by completing a survey. Additionally, students saw the identical invitation to participate when they log into the online course management portal. The announcement and email were sent by a member of the distance education department. During the 2008 fall seme ster, 612 unique students were enrolled in online courses after the add/drop period. Minimum Sample Size The minimum sample size is important when conducting multiple linear regression analysis, although researchers disagree on the proce ss of determining the minimum sample size. Stevens (1996) suggests a minimum of 15 subjects per predictor. Tabachnich and Fidell (2007) provide a formula of N> 50 + (8 x the number of predic tors). Shavelson (1998) states that the minimum sample size for an adequate estimate of the regression coefficient is 50 cases; however, the sample size should be at least ten times the nu mber of subjects as independent variables. In 59

PAGE 60

the current study, there are two predictor vari ables (teaching presen ce and the sense of community), so the minimum sample size would either need to be 30 subjects based on Stevens (1996), 66 subjects based on Tabachnich and Fide ll (2007) or 50 subjects based on Shavelson (1998). This study had 115 subjects so all minimum sample sizes were met. Instrumentation In order to collect data pert aining to perceived student lear ning (the dependent variable), teaching presence and sense of community (t he two independent variables) and the characteristics of the learner and course, an onl ine survey (Appendix A) wa s distributed to online students enrolled in the College of Education at the University of Florida. The survey consisted of fifty-one items divided into six distinct parts. Each part was designed to appear as a new page in the survey. The survey questions pertaining to teach ing presence and the sense of community (independent variables) and the perceived student learning (dep endent variable) were drawn from instruments developed and implemented in previous research studies. The following sections will describe each instrument, focusing on the validity and reliability of these instruments as determined in previous studies. Perceived student learning The score for the dependent variable of pe rceived student learni ng was drawn from one question. The perceived learning question seeks to understand the level of learning the student gained from the course by asking: On a scale of 0-9, how much did you learn in this course, with 0 meaning you learned nothing and 9 meaning you learned more than in any other course youve had? (Richmond, Gorham, & McCroskey, 1987) This question enga ges the student in a self-report of their level of learning from the course. 60

PAGE 61

The question was first developed when the rese archers Richmond et al. (1987) searched for a method to measure perceived cognitive learning and found that many of the methods employed in other research studies did not suit their needs. First, Richm ond et al. (1987) determined that content area tests could not be used when rese arch studies included subjects from multiple disciplines. McCroskey, Sallinen, Fayer, Ri chmond, and Barraclough (1996) agreed and noted that when academic tests are created by one pers on, the tests lack a keen focus on validity and reliability. Next, final grades co uld not be used as an indicati on of perceived cognitive learning because grades are subject to a variety of influen ces (attendance, participa tion, etc.) not related to cognitive learning. Additionally, final grades are typically not an option for consideration because they tend to have restricted ranges and it is difficult to se parate the knowledge the student brought to the class from the knowledge the student gained during the class (Rovai & Barnum, 2003; McCroskey et al., 1996). With th ese issues in mind, researchers (McCroskey et al., 1996; Richmond et al., 1987) have concluded th at college students have a good sense of what they have learned from a course and can accurate ly complete a self-report and thus, self-reported scores have emerged as an accepted pract ice (Rovai & Barnum, 2003). Ultimately, the perception of learning may be more important than reality, as decisions about learning are often based on perceptions (Rovai & Barnum, 2003). In the original study (Richmond et al., 1987), the perceived cognitive learning question was developed to determine learning loss in a traditional undergraduate course. In order to determine learning loss, the authors used two questions: 1) On a scale of 0-9, how much did you lear n in the class, with 0 meaning you learned nothing and 9 meaning you learned more than in any other class youve had?; and 2) How much do you think you could have learned in the class had you had the ideal instructor? (Richmond et al., 1987) 61

PAGE 62

By subtracting the score of the first questi on from the second question, the authors created a new variable called learning loss. The learn ing loss variable was intended to remove any bias from the first question. The authors were concerned that a bias would be created if the student was required to take the class or if the student dislik ed the course (Richmond et al., 1987). This bias may be more of an issue wh en looking at undergradu ate students with less flexibility to choose courses because of re quired courses than graduate students, who occasionally have the flexibility to craft their course of study. Richmond et al. (1987) found that the procedure yielded almost identical scores to those of the first questi on used alone, with a correlation of .94. Similarly, other researchers have followed th e same methods for determining perceived cognitive learning in traditional courses. In McCrosky et al. (1996), the researchers employed a pilot test including 162 students. The researcher s reported a test-retest reliability score of .85 over a five-day period, thus substantiating the us e of the perceived learning question as an instrument with high reliability. A test-retest is an appropriate test of reliability when an instrument has only one item. With the recognition that each question in th e original study (Richmond et al., 1987) yields it own measure of perceived cognitive learning with high reliability and va lidity, students in the current study will only answer the first perceived learning question (not the learning loss measure) followed by the Classroom Community Scale and the Teaching Presence Scale. The Classroom Community Scale (CCS) In 2002, Rovai (2002a) developed and field-tested a tool designed to measure the sense of classroom community a student feels within a po stsecondary online course. The tool, a survey consisting of twenty items, was named the Classroom Community Scale (CCS). The survey was developed with the intention of furthering research in the area of designing and delivering online 62

PAGE 63

instruction to promote community which appe ars to increase course satisfaction, student persistence, and student learning (Ouzts, 2006; Waltonen-Moore, 2006; Shea, Li, Swan & Pickett, 2005; Rovai, 2002b). The items in the CCS were drawn from a review of literature suggesting that the characteristics of community in clude the following: feelings of connectedness, cohesion, spirit, trust, and interdependence among members (Rova i, 2002a). The development of the survey began with 40 questions, which were analyzed by three experts to determine content validity. Additionally, a factor an alysis was conducted on the 40 questi ons to assist in the removal of extraneous questions. The final survey consists of 20 questions, which were all rated as totally relevant by the three experts. The procedure used to develop the CCS provides the foundation for high content and construct validity. Following the completion of the CCS, Rovais initial research in cluded 375 graduate students enrolled in 28 different online courses. The CCS survey was available for students to complete at the end of the course. Rovais initial research study suggests the instrument possesses excellent reliability for measuring cl assroom community for higher education students in online courses. The Cronbach coefficient al pha and the equal-length split-half coefficient corrected by the Spearman-Brown prophecy formula provided two internal consistency estimates for reliability with scores of .93 and .91 respectively. In addition to the test of reliability, Rova i completed a factor analysis which produced three factors with eigen values over 1.0. These factors were rotated us ing the direct oblimin method to allow for correlations between factors. This method resulted in two factors, labeled learning and connectedness The connectedness factor accounted for 42.81% of the variance for community, while the learning factor accounted for 11.24% of the variance for community 63

PAGE 64

(Rovai, 2002a). The final CCS consists of 10 items measuring connectedness and 10 items measuring learning. In 2006, Ouzts employed the CCS as a mean s of addressing concerns regarding poor quality, lack of student success, and student satisfaction in online courses. The results of the study were drawn from 11 graduate and 37 undergraduate courses. While 820 students were given the survey, only 227 student s responded (27.7% response rate ). The Cronbachs alpha for the overall score of classroom community wa s .93, indicating excelle nt reliability. Ouzts (2006) divided the participants into three categories: lo w, mid and high scores. High scores were students with total scores of more than one standard deviation above the mean and low scores were students with total scores of mo re than one standard deviation below the mean. The students with scores that fell between high and low scores were considered mid-scores. This categorization of scores provide d a framework from which to choose participants for the followup interviews. The interviews were used to confirm the validity of the Classroom Community Scale. Shea, Li, Swan, and Pickett (2005) used the Classroom Community Sc ale as one of their instruments to determine how instructor behavior s contributed to the development of community in online courses. The sample consisted of 2,036 students drawn from 470 instructors. The reliability of the CCS was excellent, with a Cronb achs alpha score of .94 for the entire survey. These results were replicated by Shea, Li & Pickett (2006) with a sample of 1,067 students enrolled in online courses at 32 colleges participating in the State University of New York Learning Network. The reliability of the CCS wa s excellent, with a Cronbachs alpha score of .93 for the entire survey. 64

PAGE 65

Based on the reported research (Ouzts, 2006; Shea et al., 2006; Shea et al., 2005; Rovai, 2001), the Classroom Community Scale is a reliabl e and valid survey created for the purpose of quantifying the sense of community in an online course. Validity is assured through the process of the development of the instrument, which incl uded a review of the literature and a review of the items by experts. The reliability is assu red by Cronbach alpha sc ores. Additionally, the factor analysis demonstrates that there are two distinct factors embedded in the CCS. For this study, the overall score for the Classroom Commun ity Scale will be utiliz ed to describe the independent variable of sense of community. Teaching Presence Scale (TPS) The third part of the survey, the Teaching Pr esence Scale, is based on one element of the Community of Inquiry framework (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 1999). In 2005, Shea, Li, Swan, and Pickett published the Teaching Presence Scale which was developed in consultation with Anderson, one of the origin al authors of the Community of Inquiry model, thus providing the basis for construct validity. The survey is based on the construct of teaching presence, which has been conceptualized to have three components: in structional design and organization, direct instruction, and facili tating discourse. The Teaching Presence Scale (TPS) is a seve nteen-question survey using a five-point Likert scale, which ranges from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The survey consists of six questions measuring instructional design and organization, six questions measuring facilitation of discourse and five questions measuring direct instruction. Shea et al. (2005) utilized the TPS with a sample size of 2,036 students. The data from the study was derived from a response ra te of 93%. A factor analysis was performed using a direct oblique rotation to determine the number of factors in teaching pres ence. After a scree-plot, the Kaiser-Gutman rule, and the interp retability of the solution, it was clear that only two factors, (a) 65

PAGE 66

directed facilitation and (b) inst ructional design and organization, could be interpreted (Shea et al., 2005). Directed facilitation in name and co ncept is simply an amalgamation of direct instruction and facilitating disc ourse. The researchers concluded that the two factors were highly interpretableall questions lo aded high on one factor and low on the other factor. The two factors account for 74.37% of the variability of teaching presence. The reliability of the TPS was excellent, with a Cronbachs alpha sc ore of.97 for the entire survey. Shea, Li and Pickett (2006) replicated the study by Shea et al. (2005) with 1067 participants (12% blended course students, 88% online course stude nts). In this study, the same two factors, (a) instruc tional design and organization and (b) directed facilitation, were extracted. The two factors account for 78.18% of the variance of teaching presence. The reliability of the TPS was excellent, with a Cronbachs alpha score of .98 for the entire survey. In 2005, Arbaugh and Hwang set out to test the three-indicator model of teaching presence as originally described by Shea et al. (2005) to determine if the three i ndicators were distinctly separate. The sample included 190 MBA students drawn from fourteen courses. The response rate for the survey was 57.6%. The authors used a confirmatory factor analysis as a method of testing the theory. Arbaugh and Hwang (2005) were able to valid ate all three indicators. All three of the indicators were highly correlate d, suggesting that online learning is demanding on instructors because they need to fulfill all three dimensions of teaching presence well (Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006). The different conclusions of the two-factor model and the three-factor model, are important for the discussion of the results; howev er, the difference between the two models will not affect the analysis because overall scores, rather than subs cale scores were used. The development of the TPS and the resulting studies provide a con ceptually grounded and 66

PAGE 67

empirically sound basis for examining distan ce learning processes (Arbaugh & Hwang, 2006, p. 16). Based on the reported rese arch, the TPS is a reliable a nd valid survey created for the purpose of quantifying teaching presence in an on line course. The validity is assured because one of the original authors of the COI model wa s consulted during the development of the TPS. The reliability is assured thr ough the reporting of Cronbach alpha scores of .97(Shea et al. 2005), and .98 (Shea et al, 2006). For this study, the overall score for Teaching Presence Scale will be utilized to describe the independent variable of teaching presence. Characteristics of the Student and Course The last part of the survey includes thir teen items seeking information about the characteristics of the student and of the c ourse, followed by two open-ended questions. The completion of these thirteen items is optional. The student characteristic items seek to gain information about the students age, proximity to the campus, current course enrollment, enrollment in a cohort, gender, preferred learni ng style, strongest multiple intelligence (Gardner, 1983) and enrollment in a degree program. In addition, while most students successfully complete the course for which they are registered, there are times when an issue occurs and a student must take an incomplete. In order to gather this data, one item asks the student if he or she is on track to successfully complete the course. The course characteristic item seeks to gain insight on the length of the course. These el even items provide data regarding student and course characteristics to determ ine if there are group differences in perceived student learning. The last two questions provide a space for student s to elaborate on their experience with teaching presence and the sense of community in any of their online lear ning experiences. Data Collection Process The survey for this study was cr eated online using Survey Monkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com). An online survey provides an effective and efficient method 67

PAGE 68

for reaching participants in an online course be cause of their geographi c distance to the campus (Wright, 2005). In order to distribute the invitati on to participate in th e survey to all online students enrolled in the College of Education at the University of Florida, an announcement was posted by the distance education department for the College of Education on the online course management portal, which automatically sends an email to all enrolled online students with the same text as the announcement. The announcemen t included a short description of the survey and a hyperlinked URL to the online survey. The announcement was available for a four-week period toward the end of the course. Although other distribution methods were considered (Table 3-2), the general system announcement di stribution method was chosen in consultation with the leadership in the College of Education due to its ease of distribution, consideration for FERPA-related issues, and limiting the interference to students and instructors. The benefits of using a general system announcement are uniform distribution, distribution by a trusted authority (Sheehan, 2001), and assurance that st udents would see the invitation. Data Analysis Organizing the Data Survey data was entered into SPSS v.15. The values for perceived learning, sense of community, and teaching presence were entered us ing the overall scores for each instrument. Student and course characteri stics were coded using categorical numbers (Table 3-3). The perceived learning score ranges from zero to nine, with higher sc ores indicating that the student reported higher levels of learning from the course. The sense of community raw scores range from zero to 80, with higher scores indicating a stronger sens e of community. Half of the items (1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 11, 13, 15, 16, and 19) are positively worded so those items are weighted as follows: Strongly Agree = 4, Agr ee = 3, Neutral = 2, Disagree = 1, Strongly Disagree = 0. The remaining items (4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 17, 18, and 20) are negatively worded, 68

PAGE 69

so those scores are weighted as follows: Str ongly Agree = 0, Agree = 1, Neutral = 2, Disagree = 3, Strongly Disagree = 4. The ove rall score for sense of community is the sum of all the responses (Rovai, 2002a). The teaching presence raw scores range from zero to 68, with higher scores indicating a greater teaching presence. All of the questions are positively worded and weighted as follows: Strongly Agree = 4, Agr ee = 3, Neutral = 2, Disagree = 1, Strongly Disagree = 0. The overall score for teaching presence is the sum of all the responses. While the Classroom Community Scale and Teaching Presence Scale are comprised of subscales, the researcher elected to use overall scores because the historical research is contradictory as to whether the subscales are distinctly different or overlapping concepts. Data Analysis by Question Question 1: How do teaching presence and the sense of community function as predictors for perceived student learning in an online course? Ho: The proportion of variance of perceived st udent learning (DV) that is predicted by sense of community (IV) and teach ing presence (IV) is zero. A multiple linear regression analysis generates an R2 value which is an index of the proportion of variance for percei ved student learning predicte d by sense of community and teaching presence. The design requirements for multiple linear regression analysis include the following: one dependent variable and two or more independent variables with all variables being continuous. The design requirements are met in this study. The four assumptions of multiple linear regression analysis are linearity, normality, homoscedasticity, and independence (Sha velson, 1998). Linearity, normality and homoscedasticity were checked using a scatterp lot of residuals against predicted scores (Shavelson, 1998). The scatterplots showed points equally above and below the line (normality), in the general shape of a line (linearity), and equa lly distributed across leve ls (homoscedasticity). 69

PAGE 70

In order to address the last assumption, independence, efforts were made to ensure online students submit only one survey. If a student is enrolled in multiple courses during the term, it is requested that he or she only complete the su rvey once. A note on each page of the online survey states NOTE: If you are enrolled in more than one online course, please select one of the courses to think about when res ponding to the survey items. The use of scatterplots provides a visual repr esentation of the data to review for possible outliers. When outliers were de termined, the research er double-checked the data entry into SPSS for errors. Data will be considered to be an out lier if the standardized residual is more than 3.3 or less than -3.3. Outliers were removed from the da ta set only if they have been determined to have undue influence on the model based on Cooks distance (Pallent, 2007). Hence, if Cooks distance is greater than 1, the data set will be removed from the study (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2007) because multiple linear regression analysis is very sensitive to outliers (Pallent, 2007). Overall, no data was removed from the data set due to being an outlier. The multiple linear regression model, Y i = o + i X 1i + i X 2i +e 1 consists of a slope intercept ( o ), an error term (e 1 ), and two regression coefficients ( i X 1i and i X 2i ). The regression coefficient for sense of community ( i X 1i ) explains how a unit increase in sense of community will affect perceived learning, while th e regression coefficient for teaching presence ( i X 2i ) explains how a unit increase in teaching pres ence will affect perceived learning. In a multiple regression model, the regression coeffici ents are determined after controlling for the other independent variable, meani ng that the regression coefficients are the relationship between Y and X 1 for individuals with the same score for X 2 (Shavelson, 1998). Therefore, if a relationship exists between teaching presence an d the sense of community, it will not affect the 70

PAGE 71

results of the multiple linear regression model (Shavelson, 1998). The standardized beta was used in this study because each survey has a unique scale. While determining the multiple linear regression equation, it is possible to estimate the magnitude of the relationship betw een the dependent variable and the best linear combination of the independent variables, otherwise called the mu ltiple correlation coefficient (R). The square of the multiple correlation coefficient (R2) describes the percent of va riability that is accounted for by the independent variables in the model (Sha velson, 1998). When the sample is small, the adjusted multiple correlation coefficient should be used in place of the multiple correlation coefficient (R2) because the former provides a better estimate of the true population value (Pallent, 2007). For th is study, the adjusted R2 will be reported. The final step for multiple linear regression analysis is a test of statistical significance. The test of statistical significance will ensure that the square of the multiple correlation coefficient was caused by a systematic relation ship between the dependent and independent variables. The F observed was compared to F critical(.05, k, (N-k-1)) to determine if the observed relationship occurred by chance or whether the relationship occurred as a result of a systematic relationship between the dependent variab le and the independent variables. Sub Question A: What is the strength of relat ionship between teaching presence (IV) and the sense of community (IV)? Ho: The relationship between teaching presence and the sense of community is zero. In order to determine the strength of rela tionship between teaching presence and the sense of community, a correlation coefficient was calcu lated. A correlation coefficient is the linear relationship between two variab les (Galloway, 2004). The resulting coefficient is always a number between -1 and +1. A nu mber closer to +1 indicates th e two variables have a positive relationship, meaning th e two variables move in the same direction (as teaching presence 71

PAGE 72

increases, the sense of community increases). A nu mber closer to -1 indicates the variables have a negative relationship, meaning the two variab les move in opposite directions (as teaching presence increases, the sense of community decr eases). A value close to zero suggests that a relationship does not exist. Multicollinearity, which is a high correlati on between the independent variables, was checked because it produces unstable estimates of the partial regression coefficients (Shavelson, 1998). Predictor variables should account for different proportions of the variance of the dependent variable (perceived student learning) because the variance in the dependent variable can only be accounted for by one independent variab le (Hinkle, Wiersma & Jurs, 1994). If the Product Pearson correlation coefficient for the two independent variables is close to 1, then the tolerance will be reviewed. If the tolerance is determin ed to be less than .20 then multicollinearity is an issue. Sub Question B: What is the strength of relat ionship between teaching presence (IV) and perceived student learning (DV)? Ho: The relationship between teaching presence and perceived student learning is zero. In order to determine the strength of rela tionship between teaching presence and perceived student learning a correlation coefficient was calc ulated. For multiple linear regression analysis perceived learning (dependent variable) and teachi ng presence (independent variable), as well as, perceived learning (dependent variable) and sens e of community (independent variable) should exhibit a correlation higher than plus or minus .3. The variable s must have some correlation to warrant the use of the variables in the multiple lin ear regression analysis. In order to determine the correlation coefficient, the scores for teach ing presence and perceived student learning were entered into SPSS and a correlati on matrix was generated. 72

PAGE 73

Sub Question C: What is the strength of relat ionship between the sense of community (IV) and perceived student learning (DV)? Ho: The relationship between the sense of co mmunity and perceived student learning is zero. In order to determine the strength of re lationship between sense of community and perceived student learning, a correlation coeffici ent was calculated using the same methods as described in Sub Question B. In addition to answ ering the research questi ons, a series of t-tests and ANOVAs was completed in order to determine if the student or course characteristics create statistically significant group differe nces in the dependent variable In order to determine if group differences exist, the course and student characteristic items were coded using categorical numbers. An independent samples T-test is the appropriate sta tistical method for comparing the mean scores of two different group s of subjects to determine if the differences of the mean scores are statistically signif icant (Shavelson, 1998). For this st udy, six T-tests were performed to determine if there are significant group differe nces (p< .05) in the perceived student learning variable. When an item has more than two groups, then an ANOVA needs to be employed. For this study five ANOVAs were performed. Wh en group differences ap peared in the ANOVA results then Post Hoc (Tukey) te sts were utilized to determine which groups were statistically significant. In addition to this reporting of group differen ces, an effect size will be calculated and reported for all student and course characteristics that have a si gnificant difference. The effect size statistic provides an indication of the magnitude of the differences between the groups. The effect size was calculated using Eta squared. Eta squared ranges from 0-1 and explains the proportion of the variance in the independent va riables explained by the group variable. This 73

PAGE 74

study used the effect size guidelines proposed by Cohen (1988), which are .01= small effect, .06= moderate effect, and .14= large effect. 74

PAGE 75

Table 3-1. Instrument descriptions and authors Description Number of Questions Directions Author Part 1: Informed Consent 1 question Must agree to the informed consent to enter survey Part 2: Perceived Learning 1 question Must answer to proceed Richmond, Gorham & McCroskey, 1987 Part 3: Classroom Community Scale 20 questions Must answer all questions to proceed Rovai, 2002a Part 4: Teaching Presence Survey 17 questions Must answer all questions to proceed Shea, 2005 Part 5: Characteristics of Learner and Course 11 questions Optional Researcher generated Part 6: Optional open-ended questions 2 questions Optional Researcher generated Table 3-2. Distribution methods considered Methods Pros Cons Email by researcher Spam issues with mass email, FERPA issues for getting email lists, accuracy of email list Teachers adding a link to course Highly vi sible to students Hard to contact all teachers, Difficult assuring that each survey announcement looks identical General announcement Reliable Source, students will see as an announcement and as an email, No FERPA issue May be ignored because it is not connected to a course 75

PAGE 76

Table 3-3. Coding system for demographic questions Question Coding How many online courses are you currently enrolled in? 0= 1 course 1=2 courses 2=3 courses 3=4 courses Are you enrolled in an 8 week or 16 week online course? 0= 8 weeks 1=16 weeks Are you in a cohort? 0=no cohort 1=cohort Are you a degree seeking student or a non-degree seeking student? 0=non-degree student 1=degree seeking student Have you completed your online course OR on track to successfully complete the course? 0=no 1=yes How many online courses have you completed? 0= No courses 1=1 course 2=2 courses 3=3 courses 4=4 courses 5= more than 4 courses What is your gender? 0=male 1=female How old are you? 0=20-29 years old 1=30-39 years old 2=40-49 years old 3= over 49 years old Do you live within driving distance to the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL? 0=no 1=yes What is your preferred learning style? 0= auditory learner 1= kinesthetic learner 2= visual learner What is your strongest multiple intelligence? 0= Visual/Spatial 1= Verbal/Linguistic 2= Logical/Mathematical 3= Bodily-Kinesthetic 4= Musical/Rhythmic 5= Interpersonal 6= Intrapersonal 76

PAGE 77

CHAPTER 4 PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA As stated in Chapter 1, this study employed qua ntitative methods to examine if teaching presence and the sense of community act as predictors of per ceived student learning in online courses. This chapter is orga nized by the study research questi ons posed in Chapter 1, followed by an analysis of the group difference for the perceived student learning score, and concluding with a review of the responses to the open-ended questions. Study Research Questions How do teaching presence and the sense of community function as predictors for perceived student learning in an online course? a. What is the strength of the relationship between teaching presence and the sense of community? b. What is the strength of the relationship between teaching presence and perceived student learning? c. What is the strength of the relationship between the sense of community and perceived student learning? Demographic Reporting of the Sample In order to create a clear picture of th e students who completed the online survey, a description of the sample of par ticipants will be presented. Th e demographic questions for this study are presented at the end of the survey following the info rmed consent (Appendix B), the perceived learning question (Table 4-1), the Teaching Presence Scale (Table 4-2), and the Classroom Community Scale (Table 4-3). The demographic questions were optional. The sample was made up of 115 students comp rised of 102 women (89%), 11 men (10%), and two students who did not respond to the gend er question (1%). This sample size represents 19% of the students enrolled in online courses at the College of Education during the Fall 2008 semester. The sample was divided in terms of living within driving distance to campus; 58% of 77

PAGE 78

the students stated that they lived within driv ing distance to campus and 42% of the students did not. In terms of distance from the UF campus in Gainesville, one student st ated that he/she lived 6.5 hours from Gainesville, Florida, while anothe r student reported he/she lived in China. Additionally, the length of the c ourses varied for participants in this study, with 54% of the students reporting that they were enrolled in an eight-week course and 46% of the students reporting that they were enrolled in a sixteen-w eek course. The sample represented students who were enrolled in one course (55%) and students enrolled in multiple courses. Of the students in the sample, 15% reported th eir preferred learning st yle as auditory, 21% as kinesthetic, and 64% as visual. Additionally, the students reported their strongest multiple intelligence as Verbal/Linguistic (33%), Visua l/Spatial (23%), Logical/Mathematical (15%), Interpersonal (13%), Bodily-Kinesthetic (7%), Musical/Rhythmic (5%), Intrapersonal (4%), and Naturalistic (0%). A total of 57% of the students reported being a part of a cohort program. This means students take designated courses for their degree program and are often grouped with the same students each online term. Most of the students who completed the survey reported that they were taking online courses to earn a degree (81%) and that they were on target for successfully completing the course (95%). Fo r 14% of the students, the fall 2008 course enrollment was their first online course. The remaining students re ported they had completed one online course (10%), two online courses (21%), three online courses (11%), four on line courses (9%), and more than four online courses (35%). Answering Question One The first research question to be addressed was how do teaching presence and the sense of community act as predictors for perceive d student learning in an online course? 78

PAGE 79

In order to answer this question, a multiple li near regression analysis was performed using SPSS. The independent variables were teaching presence and the sense of community, and the dependent variable was percei ved student learning. All 115 study participants completed the entire survey, allowing for confid ence in the responses in terms of having a complete data set (Table 4-4). Nevertheless, it is important to make sure all statistical assumptions for multiple linear regression were met before exploring the data in detail. All four of the assumptions of multiple linear regression analysis were met. Independence was met by asking students to complete the survey once even if they were enrolled in multiple courses. The other three assumptionslinear ity, normality, and homos cedasticitywere all checked using the scatterplot of residuals against predicted scores The scatterplot showed points equally above and below the line (normality), in the general shape of a line (linearity), and equally distributed across all levels (homoscedasticity). One data point was explored as a possible ou tlier based on having a standardized residual of more than 3.3. A review of the Mahalanobis distance of th e point (29.79), which was higher than the critical value for two independent variab les (13.82), further suggest s that the point is an outlier. Based on the methodology set out in Chapte r 3, the outlier would only be removed if the maximum Cooks distance was greater than one. For the current study, the maximum Cooks distance was .578, so the data point remained in the data set because th e point did not cause undue influence on the multiple linear regression model. The unique contribution of teaching presence and sense of community was determined by reviewing the standardized coeffi cients Beta values. The standardized coefficient Beta values were chosen because the measurements of the independent variables have unique scales. The independent variable that provided the most unique contribution to explaining perceived student 79

PAGE 80

learning was the sense of community ( = .522) when the variance by all other variables in the model was controlled (Table 4-5). The sense of community made a significant (p=.001) unique contribution of 13% to the prediction of the dependent variable, which was determined by squaring the part correlation (.363*.363= .13). For every standard deviation unit (SD=13.82) change in the sense of communit y, the perceived student learning score rose .522 of one standard deviation unit (SD=2.01), which is equal to 1.04 points on the nine-point perceived student learning response. In addition, teaching pres ence made a statistically significant unique contribution ( = .198, p= .049) of 2% to the prediction of the dependent variable, which was determined by squaring the part correlation (.138 *.138= .02). For every standard deviation unit (SD=16.94) change in the teaching presence, the perceived student learning score rose .198 of one standard deviation unit, wh ich is equal to .40 points on th e nine-point perceived student learning response. Therefore, the multiple regression model equation for predicting the perceived student learning score is Y1=.877+.023X1+ .077X2; whereas X1 is the value for the Teaching Presence Scale and X2 is the value for the Classroom Community Scale. While the part correlations re flect the unique contribution of the independent variables, the shared variance was not accounted for in the valu es. While the unique contribution of teaching presence and the sense of community can expl ain 15% of the variance of perceived student learning, the combination of the unique contribu tions and the shared variance can explain 45.1% (Table 4-6), F(2,112)=47.766, p<.001, of the variance of perceive d student learning (Table 4-7). The adjusted R square value of .451 indicated that teaching presence and the sense of community together can predict 45.1% of the variance of perceived student le arning. The adjusted R square has been reported because the value provides a be tter estimate of the true population value when the sample size is small. 80

PAGE 81

In summary, multiple regression analysis was used and the results presented included the adjusted R square (.451), ANOVA (p<.001), and the standardized coefficient of each component variable ( p<.001, =.198 p<.049). The data indicated that relative to each other, the sense of community ex erted the greatest influence on pe rceived student learning. Most importantly, the data concluded that teaching presence and the sense of community can predict 45.1% of the variance of perceived student learning. The square ro ot of the adjusted R square (square root of .451= .67) provided an estimate of the effect size. For this study, .67 is a large effect according to Cohen (1988). Therefore, the null hypothesis was rej ected indicating that teaching presence and sense of community do act as predictors for perceived student learning. Answering the Research Sub-Questions In order to answer all of the research sub-questions correlations coefficients were used. A correlation describes the linear relationship between two cont inuous variables in terms of strength and direction. The st rength is described by a numbe r between -1 and 1, while the direction is based on whether the number is pos itive or negative. A number closer to positive one indicates the two variables have a positive relationship, meaning the two variables move in the same direction (as teachi ng presence increases, the sense of community increases). A number closer to negative one indicates the va riables have a negative or inverse relationship, meaning the two variables move in opposite directi ons (as teaching presence increases, the sense of community decreases). A value close to zer o suggests that a relati onship does not exist. The assumptions for correlations include : normality, linearity, homoscedacity and independence (Shavelson, 1998), which were all checked as part of the multiple regression analysis. This data set met all assumptions. 81

PAGE 82

The Product Pearson correlation coe fficient (r) was .718, n= 115, p<.001 when investigating the linear relationship between the two independent variables of teaching presence and the sense of community. Based on the guide lines set out by Cohen (1988), the relationship was strong because the Product Pearson correlation coefficient (r) is greater than .5 and positive because the number is a positive number. In summary, as teaching presence increased, so does the sense of community (Table 4-8). Theref ore, the null hypothesis of sub-question A was rejected indicating there is a relationship between teaching pres ence and sense of community. While the null hypothesis was rejected, it is necessary to furt her investigate the relationship between the two independent variables to make sure that Multicollinearity is not an issue. Multicollinearity, which is a high correlation between the independent variables, produces unstable estimates of the partial regression co efficients (Shavelson, 1998). When the Product Pearson correlation coefficient (r) is close to 1.0, then the tolerance should be reviewed. The tolerance should be greater than .20 to rule out mu lticollinearity as an i ssue. For this study, the Product Pearson correlation coefficient was .718 and the tolerance was .484; therefore, multicollinearity was not an issue in the current study. The Product Pearson correlation coe fficient (r) was .573, n= 115, p<.001 when investigating the linear relationship between th e teaching presence (IV) and perceived student learning (DV). Based on the guidelines set ou t by Cohen (1988), the relationship is strong because the Product Pearson correl ation coefficient (r) was greater than .5 and positive. In summary, as teaching presence increased so doe s perceived student learning (Table 4-8). Therefore, the null hypothesis of sub-question B was rejected indicating there is a positive relationship between teaching presence a nd perceived student learning. 82

PAGE 83

The Product Pearson correlation coe fficient (r) was .664, n= 115, p<.001 when investigating the linear relations hip between the sense of commun ity (IV) and perceived student learning (DV). Based on the guidelines set ou t by Cohen (1988), the relationship is strong because the Product Pearson correl ation coefficient (r) was greater than .5 and positive. In summary, as sense of community increased so do es perceived student le arning (Table 4-8). Therefore, the null hypothesis of sub-question C is rejected indicati ng there is a positive relationship between sense of community and perceived student learning. Further Analysis The characteristics of the st udent and the course were examined through independent samples t-tests and ANOVAs. The questions wi th only two options were analyzed using independent t-tests. The items which used the in dependent t-tests for analysis dealt with the length of the course, cohort membership, antici pated success of comple ting the current course, gender of the student, distance to campus, and whether or not the st udent enrolled in the course was seeking a degree or not. The questions with more than two re sponses were analyzed using a one-way between groups ANOVA with Tukey post hoc tests. The items explored with an ANOVA statistic included the total number of c ourse enrollment, number of completed online courses, students age, preferred learning style of the student, and the students strongest multiple intelligence. Although different statistical analyses were performed to determine whether differences among the online students existed, the items are discussed in the same manner as presented in the online survey. The reader will note that the number of responses for the optional questions varies from 110 respons es to 114 responses. No adjustments have been made to the data to equalize the number of responses. 83

PAGE 84

Number of Online Courses A one-way between-groups anal ysis of variance (ANOVA) wa s conducted to explore the impact of the current course lo ad on the students perception of learning. The students were divided into four groups: enrolled in one online course, enrolled in two online courses, enrolled in three online courses, and enrolled in more th an three online courses. There was no significant difference, F(3,113) = .233, p=.873, between groups based on the cu rrent course load of the student (Table 4-9). Length of Online Course (8 or 16 weeks) An independent-samples t-test was performe d to compare the perceived student learning scores between students enrolled in an eight-w eek online course and students enrolled in a sixteen-week online course. There was a statisti cally significant difference in scores for students enrolled in an eight-week online course (M= 6.6, SD= 1.93) and students en rolled in a sixteenweek online course (M= 5.74, SD= 2.03); t(112)= 2.348, p=.021, (two-tailed). The effect size was calculated using eta squared (mean difference= .87, 95% CI: .14 to 1.61) which determined a moderate effect (Eta squared= .046) based on the length of the course on perceived student learning (Table 4-10). Cohort Membership An independent-samples t-test was performe d to compare the perceived student learning scores between students enrolled in a cohort (M = 6.29, SD = 1.92) and stude nts not enrolled in a cohort (M= 6.11, SD= 2.05); t(109) = .471, p =.638, (two-tailed). There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups ba sed on cohort enrollment (Table 4-11). Degree Seeking vs. Non-Seeking An independent-samples t-test was performe d to compare the perceived student learning scores between students seeking a degree (M=6. 68, SD= 1.43) and students not seeking a degree 84

PAGE 85

(M= 6.09, SD= 2.13); t(111) = 1.239, p =.218, (two-tailed). Ther e was no statistically significant difference between the two groups (Table 4-12). Course Completion An independent-samples t-test was performe d to compare the perceived student learning scores between students on track to successfully complete the curren t course (M=6.14, SD= 2.06) and students not on track to successfully complete the current course (M= 7.17, SD= .75); t(111)=1.213, p=.228, (two-tailed). There was no statis tically significant difference between the two groups (Table 4-13). Online Courses Completed A one-way between-groups anal ysis of variance (ANOVA) wa s conducted to explore the impact of the number of online courses complete d on the students perception of learning. The students were divided into five groups based on the number of completed courses: no courses (M=6.5, SD=2.45), one course (M=6.36, SD=2.16) two courses (M=6.29, SD=1.46), three courses (M=6.23, SD=1.24), 4 courses (M=5.6, SD= 3.06), and more than four courses (M=6.13, SD=2.05). There was no significant difference, F(5,108)= .276, p=.926, between groups based on the number of online courses completed prior to the current enrollment (Table 4-14). Gender An independent-samples t-test was performe d to compare the perceived student learning scores between male and female students. Th ere was no statistically significant difference (p=.159, two-tailed) in scores for males (M=5.45, SD= 2.5) and females (M= 6.33, SD= 1.89); t(111)= -1.418, p=.159, two-tailed (Table 4-15). It is important to note that female students represented 90% of the particip ants in the sample. 85

PAGE 86

Age A one-way between-groups anal ysis of variance (ANOVA) wa s conducted to explore the impact of the age of the student on the student s perception of learni ng. The students were divided into four groups: 20-29 years old, 30-39 years old, 40-49 years old, and over 49 years old. A significant difference, F(3, 110) = 4.257, p = .007, between groups was found. Post-hoc comparisons of the groups using Tukey HSD revealed a statistically signif icant difference at the p< .05 level in perceived stude nt learning scores between th e 20-29 year old students (M=5.38, SD= 2.19) and the over 49 years old students (M= 7.12, SD= 1.03) (Table 4-16). The effect size was calculated using Eta squared (SS betw een groups= 47.68, Total SS= 458.36, Eta squared=.1) which reported a medium-large effect of the stud ents age on perceived student learning (Table 4-17). Distance from UF Campus in Gainesville An independent-samples t-test was performe d to compare the perceived student learning scores between students within driving range of campus (M=6.07, SD= 1.96) and students not within driving range to campus (M= 6.31, SD= 2.08); t(111)= .616, p=.539, two-tailed. There was no statistically significant differe nce between the two groups base d on the distance from campus (Table 4-18). Learning Style A one-way between-groups anal ysis of variance (ANOVA) wa s conducted to explore the impact of the students preferred learning style on the students perception of learning. The students were divided into three groups: a uditory learners (M= 6.0, SD= 1.41), kinesthetic learners (M= 6.26, SD= 1.86), and auditory le arners (M= 6.19, SD= 2.19). There was no significant difference, F(2,110)=.091, p =.913, between groups base d on the preferred learning style (Table 4-19). 86

PAGE 87

Multiple Intelligences A one-way between-groups anal ysis of variance (ANOVA) wa s conducted to explore the impact of the students strongest multiple intelligence on the students perception of learning. The students were divided into eight groups: Visual/Spatial (M= 5.96, SD= 2.34), Verbal/Linguistic (M= 6.41, SD= 1.98), Logica l/Mathematical (M= 6.38, SD= 1.93), BodilyKinesthetic (M= 6.13, SD= 1.73), Musical/Rhythmic (M= 6.60, SD= 1.67), Interpersonal (M= 6.36, SD= 1.50), Intrapersonal (M= 6.00, SD= 1.79), and Naturalistic (no responses). There was no significant difference, F(6,103)=.197, p=.977, between groups based on the reported strongest multiple intelligence (Table 4-20). Student insight based on open-ended response questions The final part of the instrument included two open-ended questions. One question gave students an opportunity to elabor ate on any of their survey re sponses, and the second question gave students an opportunity to share their insight into teaching presence and the sense of community in online courses. Several of the responses could be categorized as course evaluation comments where students explained what they like d and disliked about the course and the instructor which were not included unless they were focused on teachin g presence or the sense of community. The following student comments address aspects of te aching presence in the online course in which the respondent pa rticipated: I am in two on-line courses this semester one well-managed and the other poorly managed. Professor should not be assigned online course if they do not know how to handle to [the] technology involved, if they do not know how they will provide feedback. Students should not need to be mailing and emailing assignments to professor. I am currently taking two graduate online courses. One of my instructors is ex[c]ellent at responding to posts and answering questions. I really feel like I am lear[n]ing in this class. My other class is exactly the opposite The instructor takes a week or more to answer questions and I feel as if I am accomplishing nothing by taking part in the class. 87

PAGE 88

Additionally, some students provided insight to the sense of community in an online course. Examples of these comments include: The online course encourages independent wor k, but does not facilitate student-to-student interaction. I do not know the names of literally more than half the students in my online course. The sense of community among most of the c ohorts was wonderful and we learned a lot from each other and from sharing our teaching experiences. Most of the responses detailed aspects of both teaching presen ce and the sense of community, and even noted the interplay of the constructs. Examples of these comments include: This is a class that should have been labe led independent study. The professor has not made weekly contact that helps us understa nd or create a community so we can learn from each other. My other classes have been better--much e ngagement from the professors and better interactions. (those classes were part of a cohort) It felt fine for teacher & stude nt presence but then I'm not a real social animal needing lots of discussion. I really enjoyed exploring and lear ning on my own with great guidance from the professor and text and online video demos. not much dialogue, from cohort or pr ofessor. TA is communicative. Moodle needs to be taken better advantage of No strong sense of community. Instructors are well intentioned but the design of course does not promote collaborative learning. Discussions are awful; they might as well be assignments. There is little in the way of a "conversation". Discussion topics are "canned" as if they we re copied and pasted from another course. I think more a fault of desi gn than the instructor's course management, though. They are doing their best, I think. Ov erall not bad but could be improved. Our cohorts taught us a lot. The professors fe lt they should stay out of discussions so we didn't learn much directly from them. I didn't f eel they had really inst ructed us, more that they judged and graded us. Although the others enrolled in this course are very supportive and easy to communicate with, I feel as though I cannot express my vi ews freely because I am in fear of the professor giving me a poor grade if I state something she may not agree with. The responses to the open-ended questions provi ded a place for the students to describe the positive and negative aspects of online course in th e College of Education at the University of 88

PAGE 89

Florida, and gave the researcher further insight in the constructs of teaching presence and the sense of community which may not have been captured in the survey. 89

PAGE 90

Table 4-1. Perceived student learning responses Response N % 0 5 3.6 1 3 2.1 2 5 3.6 3 9 6.4 4 5 3.6 5 22 15.7 6 18 12.9 7 39 27.9 8 27 19.3 9 7 5.0 90

PAGE 91

Table 4-2. Teaching Presence Scale responses Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Overall, the instructor for this course clearly communicated important course goals (for example, provided documentation on course learning objectives). 3 11 3 45 53 Overall, the instructor for this course clearly communicated important course topics (for example, provided a clear and accurate course overview). 6 9 3 41 56 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). 5 12 4 40 54 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 clear and accurate course schedule, due dates, etc.). 3 12 4 41 55 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). 7 11 10 40 47 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). 7 13 17 39 39 Overall, the instructor for this course was helpful in identifying areas of agreement and disagreement on course topics that assisted me to learn. 8 12 29 33 33 91

PAGE 92

Overall, the instructor for this course was helpful in guiding the class towards understanding course topics in a way that assisted me to learn. 7 9 13 47 39 Overall, the instructor for this course acknowledged student participation in the course (for example, replied in a positive, encouraging manner to student submissions). 3 14 4 41 53 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). 7 11 13 39 45 Overall, the instructor for this course helped keep students engaged and participating in productive dialogue. 6 15 10 48 36 Overall, the instructor for this course helped keep the participants on task in a way that assisted my learning. 7 12 17 46 33 Overall, the instructor for this course presented content or questions that helped me learn. 5 10 10 43 47 Overall, the instructor for this course focused discussion on relevant issues in a way that helped me learn. 5 10 11 47 42 Overall, the instructor for this course provided explanatory feedback that helped me learn (for example, responded helpfully to discussion comments or course assignments). 11 13 11 40 40 Overall, the instructor for this course helped me to revise my thinking (for example, correct misunderstandings in a way that assisted my learning). 8 10 22 43 32 Overall, the instructor for this course provided useful information from a variety of sources that assisted my learning (for example, references to articles, textbooks, personal experiences, or links to relevant external websites). 7 6 11 36 55 92

PAGE 93

Table 4-3. Classroom Community Scale responses Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree I feel that students in this course care about each other. 0 7 32 65 18 I feel that I am encouraged to ask questions. 3 12 16 51 40 I feel connected to others in this course. 5 14 27 62 14 I feel that it is hard to get help when I have a question. 43 48 13 12 6 I do not feel a spirit of community. 25 57 22 14 4 I feel that I receive timely feedback. 12 12 16 49 33 I feel that this course is like a family. 15 28 42 29 8 I feel uneasy exposing gaps in my understanding. 25 60 11 17 9 I feel isolated in this course. 25 59 21 14 3 I feel reluctant to speak openly. 39 52 7 21 3 I trust others in this course. 0 12 26 73 11 I feel that this course results in only modest learning. 30 47 22 15 8 I feel that I can rely on othe rs in this course. 3 10 32 65 12 I feel that other students do not help me learn. 27 59 23 10 3 I feel that members of this course depend on me. 6 26 36 48 6 I feel that I am give n ample opportunities to learn. 4 7 18 60 33 I feel uncertain about others in this course. 19 49 35 16 3 I feel that my educational needs are not being met. 49 41 12 14 6 I feel confident that others will support me. 5 8 31 69 9 I feel that this course does not promote a desire to learn. 56 44 7 10 5 Table 4-4. Descriptive statistics Variables Mean Standard Deviation N Perceived Student Learning 6.19 2.01 115 Teaching Presence Scale 49.89 16.94 115 Classroom Community Scale 54.11 13.82 115 93

PAGE 94

Table 4-5. Coefficients Variables Standardized Coefficients Beta T Sig 95% Confidence Interval for Beta Lower Bound 95% Confidence Interval for Beta Upper Bound Correlations Part (Constant) 1.621 .108 -.203 2.031 TPS .198 1.987 .049 .000 .047 .138 CCS .522 5.231 .000 .047 .105 .363 Table 4-6. Multiple regression model summary Variables R Adjusted R Square Model 1 .6716 .451 Note. Predictors: CCS, TPS Table 4-7. ANOVA Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig Regression 211.654 2 105.827 47.766 .000 Residual 248.138 112 2.216 Total 459.791 114 Table 4-8. Pearson product-moment correlation between variables Variables 1 2 3 Perceived Student Learning 1 .573 .664 Teaching Presence Scale 1 .718 Classroom Community Scale 1 Table 4-9. Participant characterist ics based on current enrollment n Mean SD df (between) df (Within) F n2 p 1 online course 63 6.32 1.92 3 110 .233 .966 .873 2 online courses 44 6.02 2.12 3 online courses 6 6.17 2.64 More than 3 online courses 1 7 Table 4-10. Course characteristic s based on length of course n Mean SD t df p Eta Squared 8 weeks 61 6.61 1.93 2.348 112 .021 .047 16 weeks 53 5.74 2.03 94

PAGE 95

Table 4-11. Participant characterist ics based on enrollment in a cohort n Mean SD t df p Cohort 63 6.29 1.92 .471 109 .638 Non-Cohort 48 6.11 2.06 Table 4-12. Participant characteri stics based on type of student n Mean SD t df p Degree-Seeking 91 6.68 1.43 1.24 111 .218 Non-Degree Seeking 22 6.09 2.13 Table 4-13. Participant characteristics based on successfully completing course n Mean SD t df p Yes 107 6.14 2.06 1.21 111 .228 No 6 7.17 .75 Table 4-14. Participant characteristics based on number of courses completed n Mean SD df (between) df (within) F n2 p 0 16 6.50 2.45 5 108 .276 1.16 .926 1 11 6.36 2.16 2 24 6.29 1.46 3 13 6.23 1.24 4 10 5.60 3.06 More than 4 40 6.13 2.05 Table 4-15. Participant char acteristics based on gender n Mean SD t df p Male 11 5.45 2.50 -1.4 111 .159 Female 102 6.33 1.89 Table 4-16. Participant char acteristics based on age N Mean SD Df (between) Df (Within) F n2 p 20-29 37 5.38 2.19 3 110 4.26 15.89 .007 30-39 28 6.32 2.33 40-49 23 6.35 1.72 Over 49 26 7.12 1.03 Table 4-17. Summary of post hoc (Tukey) ANOVA results for significant differences based on age n Mean SD SE p Eta Squared 20-29 37 5.38 2.19 .36 .1 Over 49 26 7.12 1.03 .20 20-29 x over 49 .49 .004* *p<.05 95

PAGE 96

96 Table 4-18. Participant characteristics based on driving distance to campus N Mean SD t df p Yes 65 6.08 1.96 .616 111 .539 No 48 6.31 2.08 Table 4-19. Participant characte ristics based on learning style n Mean SD df (between) df (Within) F n2 p Auditory Learner 18 6.00 1.41 2 110 .091 .374 .913 Kinesthetic Learner 23 6.26 1.86 Visual Learner 72 6.19 2.19 Table 4-20. Participant characterist ics based on multiple intelligence n Mean SD df (between) df (Within) f n2 p Visual/Spatial 25 5.96 2.34 5 103 .97 .768 .977 Verbal/Linguistic 36 6.41 1.98 Logical/Mathematical 16 6.38 1.93 Bodily/Kinesthetic 8 6.13 1.73 Musical/Rhythmic 5 6.6 1.67 Interpersonal 14 6.36 1.50 Intrapersonal 6 6.00 1.79 Naturalist 0 0 0

PAGE 97

CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION This chapter includes a brief review of th e study, highlighting its purpose, the research questions, and the methodology used to conduct th e study and analyze the findings. Next, study findings from the data analysis performed will be deconstructed. Following the explanation of the study findings are implicati ons and recommendations for pract ice and research. The chapter concludes with a summary of th e significance of this study. Review of the Study The study was designed and implemented to determine whether teaching presence and sense of community act as predictors of percei ved student learning in an online course. The research question and sub-questions include: 1. How do teaching presence and the sense of community function as predictors for perceived student learning in an online course? a. What is the strength of the relationship between teaching presence and the sense of community? b. What is the strength of the relationsh ip between teaching presence and perceived student learning? c. What is the strength of the relationship between the sense of community and perceived student learning? In addition to the research questions, several student and course characteristics were reviewed for group differences on the self-reported score of perceived student learning. For the implementation of this study, online students were informed of the research study through the use of an announcement posted on the online learni ng portal of the College of Education at the University of Florida. The announcement included a brief description of the survey and a link to the online survey. A corresponding email was also received by students. If students decided to enter the online survey, they completed the IRB consent form before starting the survey. The 97

PAGE 98

online survey was available to participants fo r four weeks. Once the data collection was complete, a multiple linear regression analysis was completed to answer the main research question and a review of the correlation matrix was completed to answer the sub-questions. The demographic questions were analyzed with se ries of t-tests and ANOVAs. Open-ended questions provided additional insight into a students view of teaching presence and the sense of community. Deconstructing Study Findings Study findings will be discussed by focusing on the major concepts being explored: teaching presence, sense of community, and percei ved student learning. The first discussion of results addresses the concepts of teaching pr esence and sense of co mmunity. Immediately following is an examination of the findings related to perceived student learning. Teaching Presence and Sense of Community The main research question for this study ex amined how teaching presence and the sense of community function as predictors for percei ved student learning in an online course. Study data revealed that teaching presence and se nse of community do aid in the prediction of perceived student learning. The adjusted R s quare value (.451) from this study indicated teaching presence and the sense of community pr edicted 45.1% of the variance of perceived student learning. As an online educ ator, one can read the predictive variance as the glass is halffull or the glass is half-empty. Online educators adopting the glass is half-empty approach would seek to determine what other variables make up the 55% of the vari ance not accounted for by teaching presence and the sense of community. These factors might include the characteristics of the student and teacher the content of the course, or ev en the technologies employed in the course. Online educators taki ng the glass is half full approa ch would think the predictive 98

PAGE 99

variance of 45.1% is large enough to justify the need for reflection on how teaching presence and sense of community are develope d in their online classes. The sub-questions from this study sought to de termine the influence of teaching presence, sense of community, and the interaction of t eaching presence and sense of community had on perceived student learning. Data from this study noted the constructs of teaching presence (2%) and sense of community (13%) were individually important predictors of perceived student learning; however, their predictive nature wa s much greater (45.1%) wh en students report the existence of both teaching presence and a sense of community. Hence, the two concepts are intertwined when considering perceived student learning. Further examination of the variance issues in the data with respect to sense of community and teaching presences provide additional insights for online educators and administrators. As noted above, the sense of community factor accounted for a greater unique contribution to the prediction of student learning than does teachi ng presence yet there was variation among the study participants. Study data from the Classroom Community Scale confirms that community does happen even when students are separated geogr aphically. On average, participants scored 54 out of 80 points on the Classroom Community Scale; yet, the CCS scores ranged from 12-80 points. The large range of scores may be expl ained by the different needs of the learners, the design of the courses, or possibly the value pl aced on community by the teachers. Nevertheless, the general study findings note that while community may not be necessary for every learners success, overall community does play a part in the students perception of learning from an online course. Data from the Teaching Presence Scale substa ntiates that online students felt teaching presence; however, the amount of teaching presence described by the students varied 99

PAGE 100

considerably. On average, students scored a 50 out of 68 points on the Teaching Presence Scale with scores spanning 1-68 points. The large rang e of scores may be e xplained by the different needs of the learners, the course content, the expe rience of the teacher, or the personality of the teachers. In order to more fully explore these concepts in conjunction w ith perceived student learning, multiple linear regression was used. Wh en the study averages for sense of community and teaching presence and outlier values (such as entering in a zero for each factor) were entered into the multiple linear regression statistical equa tions, important implications regarding sense of community and teaching presence became more transparent (Table 5.1) These statistical equation results show that a student reporti ng a high sense of community and no teaching presence will report more learning from the c ourse than a student reporting high teaching presence and no sense of community. Furthe rmore, a student repor ting a high sense of community and no teaching presence will report more learning from the course than a student who reports an average amount of community a nd an average amount of teaching presence. Hence, this statistical model generated in th is study supports the c onclusion that sense of community may be one of the st rongest aspects of successful online courses when explored through the lens of perceived student learning. This finding does not negate the importance of teaching presence; it merely highlights th e importance of sense of community. Through the open-ended questions students indicated they be lieved teaching presence was created by: the teacher answering questions in a timely manner, taking part in the discussion, and understanding how the learning management syst em worked. Students noted differences in teaching presence by teacher and most responses re flected a need for teaching presence in an online course. The levels of community desc ribed varied among students. Some students 100

PAGE 101

suggested that teachers helped to create a community within the c ourse; other students stated that they did not know the other student s in the class, and one student suggested the course should be classified as an independent study. The responses bring to light the differences from course to course and from teacher to teacher in regards to the level of teaching presence and the sense of community felt in an online course. Perceived Student Learning As perceived student learning is an important and critical variable in this study, it is essential the variation among groups be explore d. The scores for perceived student learning ranged from zero to nine, with the most frequent response of 7 and the average response of 6.18. The response of 7 by thirty-nine stud ents implies that most students think they learned from their current online course. Yet, seve ral group differences emerged duri ng data analysis. The age of the student and the length of th e course were variables that pr oduced statistically significant group differences. Additionally, th ere were interesting, although not statically significant, group differences for the number of completed online courses, the preferred learning style of the student, and the strongest multiple intelligence for the student. All of these differences will be further examined. The first statistically significant group diffe rence (Eta Squared = .1) in the score for perceived learning was for the responses regarding the students age. Students reported their age in 10-year increments, starting from 20-29 year s old and ending with over 49 years old. There were 37 students in the age range from 20-29 year s old and 26 students in the age range of over 49 years old. Students who reported their age as over 49 years old averaged 7.12 out of 9 points on the perceived learning questions, while stud ents who reported thei r age as between 20-29 years old only averaged 5.38 points on the percei ved learning question. Of note is that the average score for perceived learning increased with the students age. There are several possible 101

PAGE 102

reasons for this discrepancy in response based on age, although the da ta does not reveal any insight to the discrepancy. Over all, study data does support the no tion that students at any age can learn from an online course. Implications in regards to the differences by age will be discussed in the implications and r ecommendation section of this chapter. The second statistically significan t difference (Eta Squared= .47) in the score for perceived learning was for the responses regarding the lengt h of the current course enrollment. Courses offered in the College of Education at the Univers ity of Florida are either eight weeks or sixteen weeks long. For the students w ho completed this question, 54% of the students reported they were enrolled in an eight-week c ourse, while 46% of the students re ported they were enrolled in a sixteen-week course. Students who were enro lled in an eight-week course averaged 6.61 points on the perceived learning question, while students who were enrolled in a sixteen-week course averaged 5.74 points on the perceived le arning question. The reason for discrepancy by length of course is not appare nt within the data set; however, these results would support programs offering courses for a shorter period of time than a typical face-to-face semester course, but equal in content, expectations, and rigor. Again, this will be further discussed in the implications and recommendation section of this chapter. There were three non-statistica lly significant results that are also worth discussing. Students who were new to online learning report ed higher levels of learning compared to students who had completed online c ourses prior to the current enrollment. While this difference was not significant, the results suggest that new online student s easily acclimated to online learning in the College of Educati on at University of Florida. Th e reason for the difference is not clear from the data set; however, the methods of acclimating new online students should be reviewed and possibly replicated due to the success of new online students in courses. 102

PAGE 103

The responses for preferred learning style and strongest multiple intelligence are interesting because there was no significant di fference in these groups. Most students (64%) reported their preferred learning style was as a vi sual learner; however, th e kinesthetic learners reported slightly greater levels of learning. As for the strongest multiple intelligence, the largest number of students reported verbal/linguistic as their strongest in telliegence. Interestingly, the highest level of perceive d learning was reported by verbal/lingui stic students. Nevertheless, the finding of no significant difference among preferre d learning styles and multiple intelligence preferences is important to note because it demonstrates that all students can be successful in online learning. Implications and Recommendations for Practice The implications for this study are directed to the teachers of online courses, as well as, to the administrators of higher education and pr ogram directors of onlin e learning. First and foremost, the high correlation of teaching pres ence and sense of community along with their combined ability to predict perceived student learning indicates that this has practical implications for online courses. Other findings with practical implicat ions and recommendations include the age of the student, the length of the courses, and the ease of replication. Each of these findings will have their implications an d/or recommendations for practice discussed. Increasing Sense of Community and Teaching Presence Study data revealed that teaching presence and the sense of community are predictors of perceived student learning. Therefore, it is cri tical for online teachers to make an effort to increase teaching presence and sense of community in online courses. Ther e are many strategies for increasing sense of community and teach ing presence. As this study found, the high correlation between teaching presence and the sense of community s uggests that as one increases teaching presence then the sense of community w ill increase or as you increase the sense of 103

PAGE 104

community then teaching presence will increase. Additionally, the high correlation suggests that some of the methods for increasing teaching pres ence and the sense of community could be the same. Based upon the literature base, the following suggestions for practice will be arranged under the themes of inst ructional design and organization and directed facilitation (Garrison et al., 1999). Instructional Design and Organization When designing an online course, the online teacher should consider the technologies available and their affordances; the organizatio n of the course; and the system for assessing students in the course. Every technology implemented within the courses must be reviewed based on the technologys strengths and weakness es, the technologys ease of use, and the technologys availability to students. Technolog ies that provide a venue for supporting teaching presence and the sense of community should be added to the online cour se if the technology is readily available to students a nd does not detract from the lear ning. Some current technologies that support the development of teaching presence and the sense of community include, but are not limited to: video conferencing, instant messe nger, and movies, presentations, and screen captures that use the teachers vo ice for narration. In addition, discussion boards are excellent for developing teaching presence and the sense of community. Discussion topics and the teacher provided prompts should encourage students to in corporate readings, presentations, and personal experiences. Deadlines will need to be published for three diffe rent aspects of the discussion, which include: initial postings, responses to pe ers, and summary of postings. The online teacher will need to publicly highlight str ong initial postings and responses to peers and privately suggest improvements through email for postings or responses that do not meet the course standards. Different students in the course should be responsible for publ ishing a summary of the entire conversation and this should take place with di scussions throughout the course. Having students 104

PAGE 105

generate this summary provides a big picture of the different opinions and facts that were presented by students and the online teacher. In addition to the tools of the course, the teach er will need to decide how the course will be presented to online learners. One of these deci sions includes how and wh en course modules or topics are made available to par ticipants. Generally, there are two approaches to this. First, all course modules or topics can be opened at the beginning of the course enabling students to work ahead if they so desired. If the instructor clearly specifies when students must be posting this method, although providing students w ith autonomy to work ahead, can still promote a sense of community as all students will be required to par ticipate in discussions and group projects within the same time frame. A second approach is to have modules available only during specific times. This requires students to work through the course at same pace. The online teacher needs to evaluate his or her audience to determine the approach that would best meet the needs of the student. In terms of promoting overall learning, teach ing presence, and sense of community, the syllabus, due dates, explanations of assignments and the methods for evaluation must be clear and consistent on all course documents. Teach ers who want to promote a strong sense of community will assign greater value to assignmen ts that are community-centered, for example, discussion boards and partner projects. Directed Facilitation The online teacher must also scaffold student s into working toward a sense of community as well as encouraging each learner to become a pa rt of the teaching presen ce in the course. As the course begins, a wise use of time is on stud ent and teacher introducti ons. Students can post a profile to include: current job, reason for enrolling in the course, area of interests, hobbies, location, and other interesting fa cts. This introduction can allow students to showcase their 105

PAGE 106

creativity as this can be done in many methods with Internet 2.0 technologies. Students can post their profiles with videos, podcasts, images, and more. The teacher and teaching assistants, if applicable, should post a similar profile so th ey will be viewed as part of the learning community. In addition to the profile, stude nts should be required to post a picture of his or her face on the learning management system. This provides the recognition needed for teachers and students. Imagine how a student would feel if he or she walk ed past the online teacher and wasnt recognized. Having a picture of the pers on does promote that sense of community among students and the teacher. In a ddition, the teacher should take the time to create a printable document that can act as a cheat sheet for rememb ering names, faces, and profiles of the students in the class. This cheat sheet should be made av ailable to students so that they can quickly put a name and face to each discussion board posting, t hus helping to create a feeling of community. The introduction, the student picture, and the cheat sheet are all methods for promoting and developing community. The online teachers role of comm unicator is critical. An online teacher must be able to communicate through text, at the very least, to clear up misundersta ndings, to demonstrate he or she is an active member of the community, to evaluate course assignments, and to encourage students to successfully complete the course. Ag ain, Internet 2.0 technologies allow teachers to communicate with video chats, whiteboards, and more. Furthermore, using these technologies can foster sense of community a nd teaching presence in the course. Communication is not just teacher-driven, so it is important for the teacher to provide venues of communication for students who are confused, concerne d, or just have a question. This type of communication can be addressed through email, instant messenger, chat rooms, or 106

PAGE 107

video conferencing. The online teacher should provi de their students with their preferred method of communication and also provi de students with guidance on how much time might elapse before the community (students and the teache r) responds. Having realistic expectations for communication reduces frustration among community members. The results of this study provides evidence indicating that a teacher who spends time developing a sense of community and teaching presence should ha ve students reporting higher levels of perceived student learning than online teachers who do not focus on these two constructs. However, although both teaching presence and sense of community were shown to be important, the multiple linear regression statistical equations noted that when using the lens of perceived student learning, establis hing a sense of community is th e most critical. Hence, sense of community should be an area to devote curri cular, technological, and support resources when circumstances prohibit efforts being given to bo th sense of community and teaching presence. The Age of the Student Within this study, it was evident was that age played a role in a students perception of learning. As the age of the students increased, so did the perception of learning. This finding could be interpreted as younger st udents learn less, older gradua te students learn more, or the experience that comes with ag e contributes to the learning. Each of these interpretations lead to different implications. For instance, younger graduate students may not report as much learning because the course may be a requirement ra ther than a course in which the student chose to enroll. Conversely, older students may report higher levels of learning because they have chosen to enroll in the co urse or because they are more indepe ndent in their learning endeavors. While age may be significant, the experience that comes with age may be the justification for the difference in perceived learning. Students with more experiences may be able to make more connections between the new learni ng occurring in the course and their prior experiences. 107

PAGE 108

While the reason for the discrepancy of per ceived learning based on age is unclear from the study data, the implication is that online t eachers need to use strategies that address differences in age and experience issues related to learning. For courses that are required as part of a degree program, the online instructor highli ght the big ideas in the course and how these ideas contribute to the big picture of the concept, field, etc. being studied. The instructor and students could come together to develop a list of why this lear ning is important to know again fostering a sense of community and connectedness. If the online instructor notices that students may be lacking prior knowledge or experiences to anchor the new knowledge being gained in the course, the instructor should consider ways to scaffolding the development of new schemas. Instructors could be providing videos of the experience or allowing students who have the needed prior knowledge to share their experience. The Length of the Online Course From an analysis of the group differences the students perception of learning was significantly different between an eight-week cour se and a sixteen-week course. Students in the eight-week course reported higher levels of learning when compared to students enrolled in a sixteen-week course. The online co urses in the College of Educati on at the University of Florida are only offered in eight and sixt een week lengths, so it is impo ssible to conclude that eight weeks is the perfect length for an online course. The implications of th is finding suggest that online learning does not need to follow the same format as a traditiona l, face-to-face semester course. Students in online courses may learn mo re when they have no time to procrastinate in progressing through the course or completing the assignments. In addition, online students may be able to stay focused for the entire course when the course is only eight weeks in length. From the teachers perspective, an eight-week course ma y be easier to facilitate because students have no time to procrastinate and students proceed thr ough the course at the same speed; however, the 108

PAGE 109

course may become too time-intensive and impo ssible to manage when there are only eight weeks in which to cover the subject matter. Online teachers and the students can create schedules to help everyone stay on track. This process will foster a sense of community and encourage students to share their strategies for success in a shorter (or longer) course. On a side note, program directors or administrators of higher education may consider offering online courses in two eight-week sessions each semester. This model may provide more opportunities for enrolling in more courses in an academic year, while also decreasing the number of courses in which the st udents are concurre ntly enrolled. Ease of Replication The instrument employed in this study, whic h was a combination of three previously validated instruments, was easy to disseminate a nd analyze, thus making the instrument a tool that can be replicated for small studies by individual teachers or in large studies by administrators in higher education. The ease of integration may prompt online teachers to use the survey for self-reflection. This is valuab le to online teachers because they can evaluate teaching presence and the sense of community within their course. If their scores are low for either teaching presence or the sense of community they can use the data as a baseline score for evaluating changes that they make to the course in hopes of increasing teaching presence and the sense of community. In addition to the replication by an individual teacher, admini strators in higher education may choose to use the instrument in this study as a method to reflect on an entire online program. Administrators are seeing an increase in st udent enrollment (Allen & Seaman, 2008); however, they are seeing higher drop-out rates in online learning than in traditional, face-to-face courses (Willging & Johnston, 2004). With a focus on decreasing drop-out rates, this instrument and the resulting data can provide a tool for administrato rs to develop a rationale for support structures 109

PAGE 110

that promote quality-learning experiences for every student and to design training on increasing teaching presence and the sense of community for online learning. Recommendations for Research Based on the results of this study, there is clearly a need to continue the in vestigation of the function of teaching presence and the sense of community as predictors of perceived student learning with larger sample sizes and different populations. In addition, the results of the study brought to light areas of research that should be further explor ed using qualitative methodology. This section will explore the issues of all can le arn, gender, influence of the online teacher, and finding other variables which influence perceived student learni ng. Finally, this section will conclude with ideas that would have strengthened the current study and in teresting observations that should be considered fo r future research studies. All Can Learn The data analysis concluded there was not a group difference based on the students preferred learning style or the students stronge st multiple intelligence preference. This no significant difference finding is im perative to the future of online learning. This finding means anyone can learn in online courses. The implicat ion from this finding means that because online teachers in the College of Education at the Univ ersity of Florida are reaching every type of learner within their course, thes e teachers should be finding ways to share their success with other colleges within UF or other online programs. At the same time, it is critical that additional research be conducted to determine if these fi ndings with learning style and strongest multiple intelligence are limited to education graduate studen ts or whether this expands to other audiences (e.g., K-12, non-education fields, etc.). 110

PAGE 111

Gender The sense of community has been found in other studies (Rovai, 2002a, 2002b) to be significantly higher for females. In this st udy, the sample was made up of 102 females, 10 males, and 3 non-respondents. The disproportional survey submission by one gender (female) could have played a role in the predictive natu re of community. Severa l other studies (Dawson, 2006; Ouzts, 2006; Rovai, Wighting & Liu, 2005) not ed an abundance of female respondents to online surveys and others (Rovai, 2002a) noted that women are more community-centered than men. This leads to the question, would this st udy have produced simila r results if the study population was predominately male? Future research studies should aim to use the same methodology within different popula tions, including more gender-balanced populations and also more male-dominated populations. Future studi es could help to determine if traditionally female-dominated disciplines report greater levels of community compared to traditionally maledominated disciplines. The Influence of the Online Teacher This study did not examine the actions of the online teaching in establishing sense of community and teaching presence among the course participants. Future research studies could compare teaching presence and the sense of co mmunity based on the role of the teacher (graduate student, adjunct, or professor) or the level of the students (K-12, undergraduate, or graduate) and actions of the teacher (what speci fic instructional and co mmunication strategies were used). Students most likel y experience different levels of teaching presence and the sense of community based on the online teache rs role, actions, and audience level. Finding Other Variables the Influence Perceived Student Learning This research study relied on correlations to explore influences on perceived student learning. While the study determined that 45.1% of the variance of perceived student learning 111

PAGE 112

can be predicted by teaching presence and the se nse of community, there are other factors that affect perceived student learning that were not included in th is study. Future research is necessary to identify other fact ors that influence perceived stude nt learning. From the analysis of group difference from the current study, the additio nal factors may be related to the age or the length of the course. The student s could be divided based on their response to perception of learning into groups representing low, medium and high scores for follow-up interviews. The follow-up interviews may help online teacher s decipher why young students reported lower levels of learning compared to older students. Additionally, this strategy could be used to examine the group differences relate d to the length of the online c ourse. Hence, research studies to explore the optimal length for an online course should be crafted and implemented. Moreover, based upon the review of literature, sp ecifically the Community of Inquiry framework (Garrison et al., 1999), the additi onal factors may be related to social presence, which is the ability of students to present themselves as real people, or to cognitive presence, which is the ability to construct meaning through sustained communication. Another recommendation for further research is based on the success of the teachers in this study for reaching students with different preferred learning styles, different multiple intelligences, as well as new online students. Th is success should be furthered explored to see what the online teachers ar e doing to meet the needs of so many different types of learners. This inquiry may take the form of interviews with the online teachers or content analysis of the courses. Strengthening the Current Study As the researcher and her di ssertation committee crafted th e current dissertation study, many decisions regarding the collection of demogra phic variables were made in order to increase the response rate and to keep the identity of the participants anonymous. Therefore, demographic 112

PAGE 113

variables such as program area, year in the degr ee program, and cohort were not correlated to the participants response. However, being able to connect these important variables to the overall findings would have been very beneficial in terms of understanding the audience for this study and how being a part of an existing community in fluences what takes place in individual online courses. Interesting Observations When considering the population for this di ssertation study, there are several observations that provoke interesting questions for further research. Alth ough most of these observations have been subtly alluded to in previous sections of this chapte r, it was concluded that making these questions explicit would benefit future rese archers. Therefore th e topics of gender and academic fields as related to sense of commun ity, teaching presence, and perceived learning will be highlighted in this brie f section of this chapter. This study was conducted in the College of Education that historically serves a predominately female population. Existing lite rature on females purport the preference of females is a social nature for learning. This leads to the question of Do online learners in historically male field (such as engineering) value a sense of community and teaching presence as measured by perceived student learning? Are the concepts of sense of community and teaching presence soft science only concepts or do are they learning concepts that transcend to all academic areas. It is hoped that online studies in more of the traditionally hard sciences will include concepts such as sense of commun ity, teaching presences as related to perceived student learning will be conducted. Summary The purpose of the study was to determine if the constructs of teaching presence and the sense of community function as predictors of pe rceived student learning in an online course. 113

PAGE 114

Each participating online student completed an online survey compri sed of an informed consent, an item regarding their perception of learni ng (Richmond et al., 1987), the Teacher Presence Scale (Shea et al., 2005 ), the Classroom Commu nity Scale (Rovai, 2001), student and course characteristic questions, and open-ended questions. The responses were transformed into three variables following the procedures set out by the authors of each instrument. Survey results were analyzed using a multiple linear regression, a corr elation matrix, and a series of t-tests and ANOVAs. The data brings to light the importa nce of both teaching presence and the sense of community in an online course because the two constructs were able to predict 45.1% of the variance for perceived student learning. Th ere were two statistically significant group differences in the perceived student learning score. First, students enrolled in eight-week courses reported their learning higher than students enroll ed in sixteen-week courses. Second, students over 49 reported their learni ng higher than students in the 20-29 age group. The findings and the implications from this st udy are an essential st epping-stone to the future of online learning. While the sample size from this study was small compared to the number of students enrolled in online courses around the world, the study was able to bring to light two valuable constructs that have a pred ictive relationship with student learning. This connection to student learning is invaluable. This research study found that teaching presence and the sense of community have the ability to predict 45.1% of the variance of perceived student learning. Simply put, stude nt learning, irrespective of the format of the course, occurs through interactions with a teacher a nd interactions with students. 114

PAGE 115

115 Table 5-1. Practical application of equation TPS Score (0-68) CCS Score (0-80) Predicted Perceived Student Learning Score (0-9) 68 80 8.601 68 0 2.441 0 80 7.037 50 54 6.185

PAGE 116

APPENDIX A SURVEY INSTRUMENT 116

PAGE 117

1. Informed Consent Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study. Protocol Title: An Examination of Teaching Presence and the Sense of Community on Perceived Student Learning Purpose of the research study: The purpose of the study is to determine if teaching presence and the sense of community act as predictors of perceived student learning in online learning courses. What you will be asked to do in the study: You will be asked to complete an online survey with 51 questions using Survey Monkey. Time required: 10 30 minutes Risks and Benefits: There are no risks associated with this study. Compensation: There is no compensation associated with this study. Confidentiality: Your name, e mail address and IP address will not be collected. Your answers will remain anonymous. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at anytime without consequence. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Susan Jinks, Graduate Student, School of Teaching and Learning, PO BOX 117048, Gainesville, Fl, (352)246 1909, susanejinks@yahoo.com. Colleen Swain, Ph.D. Associate Director of the School of Teaching & Learning/ 1.IRB

PAGE 118

Associate Professor & Graduate Coordinator School of Teaching and Learning, University of Florida, PO BOX 117048, Gainesville, FL, (352) 392 9191 ext. 264, cswain@coe.ufl.edu. Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: IRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250; phone 392 0433. Agreement: Please select I accept to continue with the survey. If you do not wish to complete the survey, please exit the website. I accept n m l k j

PAGE 119

NOTE: If you are enrolled in more than one online course, please select one of the courses to think about when responding to survey items. 1. On a scale of 0 9, how much did you learn in this course, with 0 meaning you learned nothing and 9 meaning you learned more than in any other course you've had? 2.Perceived Student Learning 0 n m l k j 1 n m l k j 2 n m l k j 3 n m l k j 4 n m l k j 5 n m l k j 6 n m l k j 7 n m l k j 8 n m l k j 9 n m l k j

PAGE 120

NOTE: If you are enrolled in more than one online course, please select one of the courses to think about when responding to survey items. 1. Please respond to the following statements based on the online course that you are currently enrolled in at UF. 3.Sense of Community Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree I feel that students in this course care about each other. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that I am encouraged to ask questions. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel connected to others in this course. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that it is hard to get help when I have a question. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I do not feel a spirit of community. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that I receive timely feedback. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that this course is like a family. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel uneasy exposing gaps in my understanding. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel isolated in this course. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel reluctant to speak openly. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I trust others in this course. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that this course results in only modest learning. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that I can rely on others in this course. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that other students do not help me learn. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that members of this course depend on me. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that I am given ample opportunities to learn. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel uncertain about others in this course. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that my educational needs are not being met. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel confident that others will support me. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j I feel that this course does not promote a desire to learn. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j

PAGE 121

NOTE: If you are enrolled in more than one online course, please select one of the courses to think about when responding to survey items. 1. Please respond to the following statements based on the online course that you are currently enrolled in at UF. 4.Teaching Presence Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Overall, the instructor for this course clearly communicated important course goals (for example, provided documentation on course learning objectives). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course clearly communicated important course topics (for example, provided a clear and accurate course overview). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j 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). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j 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 clear and accurate course schedule, due dates, etc.). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j 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). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course helped students understand and practice the kinds of behaviors acceptable in online learning environments (for example, provided n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j

PAGE 122

documentation on netiquette, i.e., polite forms of online interaction). Overall, the instructor for this course was helpful in identifying areas of agreement and disagreement on course topics that assisted me to learn. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course was helpful in guiding the class towards understanding course topics in a way that assisted me to learn. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course acknowledged student participation in the course (for example, replied in a positive, encouraging manner to student submissions). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j 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). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course helped keep students engaged and participating in productive dialogue. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course helped keep the participants on task in a way that assisted my learning. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course presented content or questions that helped me learn. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course focused discussion on relevant issues in a way that helped me learn. n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course provided explanatory feedback that helped me learn (for example, responded helpfully to discussion comments or course assignments). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j Overall, the instructor for this course helped me to revise my thinking (for example, correct misunderstandings in a way that assisted my learning). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j

PAGE 123

Overall, the instructor for this course provided useful information from a variety of sources that assisted my learning (for example, references to articles, textbooks, personal experiences, or links to relevant external websites). n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j n m l k j

PAGE 124

NOTE: If you are enrolled in more than one online course, please select one of the courses to think about when responding to survey items. 1. How many online courses are you currently enrolled in? 2. Are you enrolled in an 8 week or 16 week online course? 3. Are you in a cohort? 4. Are you a degree seeking student or a non degree seeking student? 5. Have you completed your online course OR on track to successfully complete the course? 6. How many online courses have you completed? 7. What is your gender? 8. How old are you? 9. Do you live within driving distance to the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL? 10. What is your preferred learning style? 11. What is your strongest "multiple intelligences"? 5.demographics 1 n m l k j 2 n m l k j 3 n m l k j more than 3 n m l k j 8 weeks n m l k j 16 weeks n m l k j Yes n m l k j No n m l k j Degree seeking student n m l k j Non degree seeking student n m l k j Yes n m l k j No n m l k j 0 n m l k j 1 n m l k j 2 n m l k j 3 n m l k j 4 n m l k j more than 4 n m l k j male n m l k j female n m l k j Between 20 29 years old n m l k j Between 30 39 years old n m l k j Between 40 49 years old n m l k j Over 49 years old n m l k j Yes n m l k j No n m l k j Auditory Learner n m l k j Kinesthetic Learner n m l k j Visual Learner n m l k j Visual/Spatial Intelligence n m l k j Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence n m l k j Logical/Mathematical Intelligence n m l k j Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence n m l k j Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence n m l k j Interpersonal Intelligence n m l k j Intrapersonal Intelligence n m l k j Naturalist Intelligence n m l k j

PAGE 125

1. Please feel free to elaborate on any of the response you provided in this survey. 2. Please feel free to add any comments about your experiences with teaching presence and sense of community in the online learning environment. 6.Optional Open Ended Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey!

PAGE 126

APPENDIX B INFORMED CONSENT Informed Consent Protocol Title: An Examination of Teachi ng Presence and the Sense of Community on Perceived Student Learning Please read this consent document carefully befo re you decide to partic ipate in this study. Purpose of the research study: The purpose of the study is to determine if teaching presence and the sense of community act as predictors of perceived student le arning in online learning courses. What you will be asked to do in the study: You will be asked to complete an online survey with 51 questions using Survey Monkey. Time required: 10-30 minutes Risks and Benefits: There are no risks associ ated with this study. Compensation: There is no compensation associated with this study. Confidentiality: Your name, e-mail address and IP address will not be collected. Your answers will remain anonymous. Voluntary participation: Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from th e study at anytime without consequence. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Susan Jinks, Graduate Student, School of Teaching and Learning, PO Box 117048, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352)246-1909, susanejinks@yahoo.com. 126

PAGE 127

Colleen Swain, Ph.D. Associate Director of the School of Teaching & Learning/ Associate Professor & Graduate Coordinator School of Teaching and Learning, University of Florida, Box 117048, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392-9191 ext. 264, cswain@coe.ufl.edu Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: IRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250; phone 392-0433. Agreement: Please select I accept to conti nue with the survey. If you do not wish to complete the survey, please exit the website. 127

PAGE 128

LIST OF REFERENCES Allen, I.E. & Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the course: Online education in the unitedtates. Needham, MA: The Sloan Consortium. Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D.R. & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network 5(2), 1-17. Arbaugh, J., & Hwang, A. (2006). Does "teaching presence" exist in online mba courses? The Internet and Higher Education 9 (1), 9-21. Baker, J. (2004). An investigation of relations hips among instructor imme diacy and affective and cognitive learning in the online classroom. The Internet and Higher Education 7 (1), 1-13. Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Buckley, K. (2003). How principles of effective online instruction correlate with student perceptions of their learning Ed.D. dissertation, University of Central Florida, Retrieved April 3, 2009, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text databases. Chickering, A.W. & Gamson, Z.F (1987). Seven prin ciples for good practices in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin 39(3), 3-7. Chickering, A.W., & Gamson, Z.F. (1999). Development and adaptati on of the seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 80, 75-81. Cohen, J.W. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Dawson, S. (2006). A study of the relationship be tween student communi cation interaction and sense of community. The Internet and Higher Education, 9 (3), 153-162. Dennen, V.P. (2006). From message posting to l earning dialogues: Factor s affecting learning participation in asynchronous discussion. Distance Education, 26 (1), 127-148 Dewey, J. (1933). How we think, a restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the education process. Boston: D.C. Health and Co. Galloway, F. (2004). A methodological primer for conducting quantit ative research in postsecondary education at the Lumina F oundation for Education. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from http://www.luminafoundati on.org/research/researchbasics Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences New York: Basic Books. 128

PAGE 129

Garrison, D., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Cr itical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2 (2-3), 87-105. Garrison, D. & Arbaugh, J.B. (2007). Research ing the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. The Internet and Higher Education, 10 (3), 157-172. Garrison, D., & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2005). Faci litating cognitive presence in online learning: Interaction is not enough. The American Journal of Distance Education, 19 (3), 133-148. Graham, C., Cagiltay, K., Craner, J., Lim, B, Du ffy, T. (2000). Teaching in a web based distance learning environment. CRLT Technical Report, 13, 1-26. Gunawardena, C., Nolla, A., & Wilson, P. (2001) A cross-cultural study of group process and development in online conferences. Distance Education, 22 (1), 85-121. Gunawardena, C., & Zittle, F. (1997). Social pr esence as a predictor of satisfaction within a computer mediated conferencing environment. American Journal of Distance Education, 11(3), 8-26. Hackman, M.Z. & Walker, K.B. (1990). Instructi onal communication in the televised classroom: The effects of system design and teacher im mediacy on student learning and satisfaction. Communication Education, 39, 196-206. Hinkle, D.E., Wiersma, W., & Jurs, S.G. (1994). A pplied statistics for the behavioral sciences (3rd ed.). Boston: Hough ton Mifflin Company. Hutchins, H. (2003). Instructional immediacy and th e seven principles: Strategies for facilitating online courses. Retrieved March 13, 2008, from http://www.westga.edu/~distanc e/ojdla/fall63/hutchins63.html Lally, V., & Barrett, E. (1999). Building a learning community online: Towards socio-academic interaction. Research Papers in Education, 14 (2), 147-163. Leh, A. (2001). Computer-mediated communication and social presence in a distance learning environment. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 7 (2), 109-128. Liu, X., Magjuka, R., Bonk, C. & Lee, S. (2007). Does sense of community matter? An examination of participants perceptions of building learning communities in online courses. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 8 (1), 9-24. Mandernach, B.J., Gonzales, R.M. & Garrett, A. (2006). An examination of online instructor presence via threaded discussion participation. [electronic version] Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 2(4), retrieved January 20, 2008, from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol2no4/mandernach.htm 129

PAGE 130

Marikar, S. (2006, January, 19). Gym class goes virtual students in Minnesota forgo locker rooms for laptops. ABC News Retrieved April 11, 2009, from http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Atio /Story?id=1513680&page=1 McCroskey, J.C., Sallinen, A., Fayer, J.M ., Richmond, V.P., & Barraclough, R.A. (1996). Nonverbal immediacy and cognitive lear ning: A cross-cultu ral investigation. Communication Education, 45, 200-211. Moore, M.G. (1989) Editorial: Three types of interaction. The American Journal of Distance Education. 3 (2), 1-6. Moore, M. G. (1991). Editorial: Distance education theory. The American Journal of Distance Education, 5 (3), 1-6. Moore, M. G. (1997). Theory of trans actional distance. In Keegan, D. (Ed.), Theoretical principles of distance education Oxford, UK: Routledge. Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company. Newlin, M. & Wang, A. (2002). Integrating technology and pedagogy: Web instruction and seven principles of undergraduate education. Teaching of Psychology, 29 (4), 325-330. Ouzts, K. (2006). Sense of co mmunity in online courses. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 7 (3), 285-296. Pallant, J. (2007). SPSS survival manual: A step by step guide to data analysis using SPSS for windows (3rd ed.) Berkshire, England: Open University Press. Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (1999). Building learning communities in cyberspace: Effective strategies for the online classroom San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Picciano, A. (2002). Beyond stude nt perceptions: Issues of interaction, presence, and performance in an online course. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network, 6 (1), 21-40. Robertson, J.S., Grant, M.M., & Jackson, L. (2005) Is online instruction perceived as effective as campus instruction by graduate students in education? The Internet and Higher Education, 8 (1), 73-86. Richmond, V. P., Gorham, J. S. & McCrosky, J. C. (1987). The relationship between selected immediacy behaviors and cognitive learning. In M. McLaughlin (Ed.) Communication Yearbook 10. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Rourke, L., Anderson, T. Garrison, D.R, & Archer W. (1999). Assessing social presence in asynchronous text-based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education 14 (3), 51-70. 130

PAGE 131

Rovai, A.P. (2001). Building classroom community at a di stance: A case study. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49 (4), 33-48. Rovai, A.P. (2002a). Development of an instrument to measure classroom community. The Internet and Higher Education, 5 (3), 197-211. Rovai, A.P. (2002b). Sense of community, percei ved cognitive learning, and persistence in asynchronous learning networks. The Internet and Higher Education, 5 (4), 319-332. Rovai, A.P. (2003). The relations hips of communicator style, pe rsonality-based learning style, and classroom community among online graduate students. The Internet and Higher Education, 6 (4), 347-363. Rovai, A.P. & Barnum, K.T. (2003). On-line cour se effectiveness: An analysis of student interactions and per ceptions of learning. Journal of Distance Education, 18 (1), 57-73. Rovai, A. P., & Ponton, M. K. (2005). An exam ination of sense of classroom community and learning among african american and caucas ian graduate students. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 9 (3), 75-90. Rovai, A. P. & Wighting, M. J. (2005). Feel ings of alienation and community among higher education students in a virtual classroom. The Internet and Higher Education, 8 (2), 97110. Rovai, A. P., Wighting, M. J., & Liu, J. (2005) School Climate: Sense of classroom and school communities in online and on-campus higher education courses. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education 6 (4), 361-374. Shavelson, R. (1995). Statistical reasoning for the be havioral sciences (3rd ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Shea, P. (2006). A study of students sense of learning community in online environments. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network, 10 (1), 35-44 Shea, P., Li, C., & Pickett, A. (2006). A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 9 (3), 175-190. Shea, P., Li, C., Swan, K., & Pickett, A. (2005). Developing learning community in online asynchronous college courses: The role of teaching presence. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network, 9 (4), 59-82. Shea, P., Pickett, A., & Pelz, W. (2003). A follo w-up investigation of teaching presence in the SUNY learning network. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network, 7 (2), 61-80. Sheenhan, K.B. (2001). E-mail survey response rates: A review. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications, 6(2), retrieved on May 16, 2008 from http://www.blackwellsynergy.com/doi/full/10-1111/j.1083-6101.2001.tb00117x 131

PAGE 132

Skinner, E. (2007). Building knowledge and community through online discussion. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 31 (3), 381-391. Stein, D.S., Wanstreet, C.E., Calvin, J., Ov ertoom, C., & Wheaton, J.E. (2005). Bridging transactional distance gap in online learning environments. The American Journal of Distance Education, 19 (2), 105-118. Stevens, J. (1996). Intermediate Statistics: A modern approach (2nd ed.) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Swan, K. (2001). Virtual interactivity: design fact ors affecting student sa tisfaction and perceived learning in asynchronous online courses. Distance Education, 22 (2), 306-331. Swan, K. (2002a). Building learning communitie s in online courses: The importance of interaction. Education, Communication & Information, 2 (1), 23-49. Swan, K. (Ed.). (2002b). Immediacy, social presence and asynchronous discussion (Vol. 3) Needham, MA: The Sloan Consortium. Swan, K. (Ed.). (2003). Learning eff ectiveness online: What the resear ch tells us. In Borne, J. & Moore, J.C. (Eds). Elements of quality online ed ucation, practices and direction Needham, MA: Sloan Center for Online Education. Tabachnich, B.G. & Fidell, L.S. (2007) Using multivariate statistics (5th ed.) Boston: Pearson Education. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving College: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. (2nd Ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in Society Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Wallace, R. (2003). Online learning in higher edu cation: A review of research on interactions among teacher and students. Education, Communication & Information, 3 (2), 241-280. Waltonen-Moore, S., Stuart, D. & Newton, E. (2006). From virtual strangers to a cohesive online learning community: The evolution of on line group development in a professional development course. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 14 (2), 287-311. Wang, M., Sierra, C. & Folger, T. (2003). Bu ilding a dynamic online learning community among adult learners. Education Media International, 40 (1/2), 49-62. Wellman, B. (1999). The network community: An introduction to networks in the global village. In Wellman, B. (Ed.) Networks in the Global Village Boulder, CO.: Westview Press. Willging, P. A. & Johnston S. D. (2004). Factors that influence students decision to dropout of online courses. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 8 (4), 105-118. 132

PAGE 133

133 Wilson, G., Stacey, E. (2004). Online interaction impacts on learning: Teaching the teachers to teach online. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20 (1), 33-48. Wright, K. (2005). Researching internet-based populations: Advantages and disadvantages of online survey research, online questionnaire au thoring software packages, and web survey services. [electronic version] Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(3), retrieved May 20, 2008, from http:// http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue3/wright.html

PAGE 134

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Susan Elizabeth Jinks was born in Columbia, MD in 1975. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Education in Curricu lum and Instruction focused on Instructional Technology from George Mason University, and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction focused on Multilingual/Multicultural Education from George Mason Universit y. She has taught 3rd grade general studies, 6th grade history, 9th grade technology, and middle & high school technology. In addition, Susan worked as a graduate assistant for three semesters teaching preservice teachers and teachers how to teach effectively while inte grating technology into their curriculum. Her most recent position was as a technology coordinator for a high school. Her areas of interest for research include: online learning, emerging technologies in the K-12 environment, and methods for increasing teachers effective use of technology in secondary schools. 134