Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Dissertation Chair, Nasrin Nazemzadeh Social Presence in Online Courses Dissertation Defense PPT.

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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Dissertation Chair, Nasrin Nazemzadeh Social Presence in Online Courses Dissertation Defense PPT.Dissertation dealing with social presence and online learning - Dr. Kritsonis, Dissertation Chair, PhD Program in Educational Leadership, PVAMU,/The Texas AS&M University System

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Social Presence in Online Courses: An Examination of Perceived Learning and Satisfaction
A Dissertation Defense by Nasrin Nazemzadeh
Dissertation Chair: William Allan Kritsonis, Ph.D. Prairie View A & M University Educational Leadership November 2008

Committee Members




Dissertation Chair: William Allan Kritsonis, Ph.D. Dissertation Committee: David Herrington, Ph.D. Solomon Osho, Ph.D. Tyrone Tanner, Ph.D

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Dissertation Defense Format

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What is Social Presence? Statement of the Problem Subject of Study Purpose of the Study Instrumentation Research Methodology Research Questions and Summery of Findings Null Hypotheses Tables Conclusions Recommendations Recommendations for Further Study

Social Presence
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According to Short (1976), the degree to which a person is perceived as “real” in mediated communication. Characteristics: 1. Interactivity Short, Williams & Christie (1976), Interaction between instructors and students, & among students 2. Mediated Communication Those communications that occur via computer mediated (i.e., discussion board, e-mail and chat rooms) between two or more individuals 3. Immediacy Anderson (1979), Those nonverbal behaviors that reduce physical and/or psychological distance between teachers and students 4. Reciprocal Awareness Rafaeli (1998), Not only the presence of interactivity but also a recognition and awareness of the interactivity by participants 5. Connectedness Rovai (2001), Sense of involvement and engagement

Statement of The Problem


Online education is the fastest growing segment of the higher education industry. This growth is global. Spague (2007) projects that enrollment in distance-teaching institutions will grow to 120 million by the year 2025. Two year colleges have recognized the importance of online education to their long term growth strategies more than other types of institutions. Therefore, it is important to investigate if this growth will compound the educational deficits that have been documented in traditional education.

Subjects of the Study


The study was conducted on students enrolled in online courses in the Department of Business and Technology at Lone Star College-Tomball in Tomball, Texas. The results of the study may be generalized to the population of students at Lone Star College-Tomball.

Purpose of the Study


The purpose of the study is to examine the role of social presence in online courses at a community college. Specifically, the study examines the relationship of social presence in online courses to students‟ perceived learning and satisfaction with their educational experience. The result of this study will help educational leaders to utilize more effectively the online instruction.

Instrumentation


After careful analysis of several developed instruments, a modified instrument consisting of 48 questions was selected. This minimized the need for validation. The first 42 questions are multiple-choice, and the last six require written responses.

Instrumentation


The instrument was placed with Wonder Survey Inc. Students logged on to the Wonder Survey web site where they directly answered the questions and submitted the results electronically to Wonder Survey. A total of 150 students, 52.1% of the invited students completed the survey. Wonder Survey tabulated the responses and provided the results. The questions and the choices were relabeled for convenience.

Research Methodology
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Data-Analytic Methods used: 1. Descriptive Statistics 2. ANOVA 3. Multiple Regression Analysis 4. Logit Analysis of Binary Dependent Variable Models.

Research Question # 1 and Summary of Findings


Does the online learning experience contribute to feelings of isolation among students?
My research shows that 32% of the respondents indicated that they felt isolated. This proportion is significantly different from zero as evidenced from a t-stat = 8.4, and its P-value = 0.000. Moreover, the greater the prevalence of these feelings, the less satisfied students typically are, and the less they perceive to learn.



Research Question # 2 and Summary of Findings


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What factors influence student satisfaction in online classes? Listed in table 9 Instructor‟s social presence The extent to which students feel they are part of a group, and Effective communication with the instructor and with other students
Factors that detract from it are: Feeling threatened, Feeling isolated, and Missing not seeing and hearing the instructor



Research Question # 3 and Summary of Findings




Is the online learning experience detrimental to students‟ motivation? The related item in the instrument reads: The online course stimulated my desire to learn. According to my research, overall, 66% agreed with the statement and 34% disagreed. The proportion that disagreed is significantly different from zero, t-stat = 8.76, probability value = 0.000. A significant proportion of students report that the online course did not stimulate their desire to learn.

Research Question # 4 and Summary of Findings


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What factors influence learning outcomes? According to my research: Feeling part of a group Being able to communicate with other students and with the instructor Learning about the instructor Feeling isolated Feeling threatened Missing not seeing and hearing the instructor The motivation to participate.

Research Question # 5 and Summary of Findings



Is perceived learning related to social presence? The evidence in Tables 11 and 12 shows that a statistically significant proportion of those reporting decreased learning, missed not seeing and hearing the instructor, reported decreased quantity and quality of interaction with the instructor and with students, expressed feelings of isolation, were less motivated to learn, and learned less about the instructor. All of the above are components of the larger picture of social presence.

Research Question # 6 and Summary of Findings
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What are the perceived strengths and weaknesses of online education? The main perceived strength is flexibility: Ninety-four % of the respondents in this study indicated that they took the online course because it allowed more flexibility in time management. Consistent with this finding, the overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they are willing to take another online course. Weaknesses: The results also indicate that the respondents missed not seeing and hearing the instructor, felt isolated and threatened, were less motivated to learn, were less satisfied with the educational experience, reported that the amount learned decreased, their motivation to participate decreased, the amount and quality of interaction with the instructor and students decreased, and the online course did not provide an educational experience similar to the classroom .

Null Hypotheses




H01. There is no statistically significant difference between the personal experience of the online course and that of the classroom. (Rejected). H02. There is no statistically significant relationship between labor force activity as measured by average weekly hours of work, and the decision to enroll in online courses. (Not Rejected)

Ho2. There is no statistically significant relationship between labor force activity, as measured by average weekly hours of work, and the decision to enroll in online courses (Not Rejected).

Table 4 ________________________________________________ Hours/Week Percent of Respondents t-Stat P-value _________________________________________________ 1-10 18.7 -1.12 0.26 11-20 14.0 -2.22 0.03 21-30 10.7 -3.09 0.00 31-40 32.7 1.66 0.1 Over 40 24.0
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The decision to enroll in online classes is not systematically related to hours worked per week.

Does the decision to take another online course depend
on labor force activity? Answer: No
Table 5 _______________________________________________ Hours/Wk Percent of respondents willing t-Stat P-value to take another online course __________________________________________________ 1-10 89 -0.75 .46 11-20 95 0.11 .92 21-30 94 -0.08 .93 31-40 90 -0.77 .44 Over 40 94  The difference in means is not statistically significant at .05 and .01 level.


Null Hypotheses


H03. There is no statistically significant relationship between commuting time to school and the decision to enroll in online courses (Not Rejected).

H03. There is no statistically significant relationship between commuting time to school and the decision to enroll in online courses (Not Rejected).



Table 6
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Commuting Time (minutes)

Percent of Respondents

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0-15 16-30 31-45 46-60 Over 60

44 30.7 17.3 5.3 2.7

Contrary to expectations, commuting time does not systematically relate to the decision to enroll online. Evidently, 74% percent of the students live within a short distance from the school.

Commuting time and the willingness to take another online course (No Relationship is Found).


Table 7 ____________________________________________________________________ Commuting Time Percent of respondents willing t-Stat P-value (minutes) to take another online course ________________________________________________________________ 0-15 95 -0.33 .74 16-30 96 -0.32 .74 31-45 73 -1.91 .06 46-60 100 0.00 1 Over 60 100 There is no statistically significant relationship between commuting time and the willingness to take another online course.



Explaining the decision to enroll in online courses
Table 8.  __________________________________________________________________ Took the online course primarily because it allowed me more flexibility in managing my time and schedule ________________________________________________________________ Strongly agree 64% Agree 30% Strongly disagree 0.7% Disagree 5%

The overriding motivation for taking online courses is flexibility in managing time. Ninetyfour percent of respondents say so.

Null Hypotheses


H04. There is no statistically significant relationship between student satisfaction with the educational experience and the instructor‟s social presence (Rejected).

H04. There is no statistically significant relationship between student satisfaction with the educational experience and the instructor‟s social presence (Rejected, t-stat = -4.43).

Modeling Satisfaction with the Educational Experience by Logit  The estimation sample is 1 – 150. _______________________________________________________  Coefficient Std.Error t-value t-prob  Constant 1.35239 0.2897 4.67 0.000  miss -1.64007 0.3701 -4.43 0.000  log-likelihood -89.6610156 no. of states 2  no. of observations 150 no. of parameters 2 ______________________________________________________



The dependent variable equals one if the respondent selected excellent, very good, or good and equals zero otherwise. The independent variable, „miss‟ equals one if respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they missed not seeing and hearing the instructor. The t-stat of the coefficient is negative and highly significant, thus decisively rejecting the null hypothesis.

H04. There is no statistically significant relationship between student satisfaction with the educational experience and the instructor‟s social presence (Rejected, t-stat = 2.82).
Modeling Satisfaction with the Educational Experience by Logit  The estimation sample is 1 – 150  ___________________________________________________________  Coefficient Std.Error t-value t-prob  Constant 2.37308e-016 0.2236 0.00 1.000  ins 0.987387 0.3496 2.82 0.005  log-likelihood -96.3789935 no. of states 2  no. of observations 150 no. of parameters 2 ___________________________________________________________ The dependent variable equals one if the respondent selected excellent, very good, or good and equals zero otherwise. The independent variable, „ins‟ equals one if respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they learned a great deal about the instructor. The t-stat of the coefficient is positive and highly significant, thus decisively rejecting the null hypothesis.


H04. There is no statistically significant relationship between student satisfaction with the educational experience and the social presence (Rejected, t= 3.67).
Modeling Satisfaction with the Educational Experience by Logit  The estimation sample is 1 – 150  ______________________________________________________________________ Coefficient Std.Error t-value t-prob Constant -0.374693 0.2770 -1.35 0.178 group 1.31296 0.3581 3.67 0.000 log-likelihood -93.5351378 no. of states 2 no. of observations 150 no. of parameters 2 ___________________________________________________________  The dependent variable equals one if the respondent selected excellent, very good, or good and equals zero otherwise. The independent variable, „group‟ equals one if respondents strongly agreed or agreed that even though they were not physically in a traditional classroom they still felt that they were part of a group. The t-stat of the coefficient is positive and highly significant, thus decisively rejecting the null hypothesis.


H05. There is no statistical evidence that students feel isolated by the online experience (Rejected t = -4.52).
Modeling Satisfaction with Educational Experience by Logit  The estimation sample is 1 – 150  _______________________________________________________ Coefficient Std.Error t-value t-prob Constant 1.02165 0.2244 4.55 0.000 isol -1.71480 0.3796 -4.52 0.000 log-likelihood -89.5007031 no. of states 2 no. of observations 150 no. of parameters 2 _________________________________________________________  The dependent variable equals one if the respondent selected excellent, very good, or good and equals zero otherwise. The independent variable, „isol‟ equals one if respondents strongly agreed with feelings of isolation while taking an online course. The t-stat of the coefficient is negative and highly significant, thus decisively rejecting the null hypothesis.


Null Hypotheses




H05. There is no statistical evidence that students feel isolated by the online experience (Rejected). H06. There is no statistical evidence that students find the online medium to be a poor way to communicate with the instructor (Rejected).

Null Hypotheses




H07. There is no statistical evidence that students find the online medium to be threatening (Rejected). H08. There is no statistically significant relationship between perceived learning and social presence in online education (Rejected).

Table 9. Focuses on Perceived Satisfaction with the Educational Experience in Relation to Social Presence


Table 9 shows descriptive statistics (means), i.e., the percent of students who rated their overall educational experience in the online course in relation to social presence and perceived satisfaction. Twenty-two questions from the instrument were selected for this purpose.

Table 9. Description






1. Students rated their overall educational experience in taking an online course as follows: Excellent (17%), Very Good (19%), Good (24%), Satisfactory (31%), and Poor (8%). Question 1, column 2 shows that 50% of the students who rated their educational experience as excellent agreed with the statement “Learned a great deal about the instructor.” As we move to the right we find the following numbers: 66, 52, 40, and 0. We observe a tendency for the proportion of students who learned a great deal about the instructor, to decrease as their perception of the educational experience worsens.

Table 10. Description




1. The difference between each group mean and those who rated their experience as poor, the benchmark group, is examined and t-stats and pvalues were calculated in order to test the null hypothesis that the difference in group means is zero. 2. In question 1 (Learned a great deal about the instructor), the t-stats shown in columns 2, 3, 4 & 5, are significant, indicating that we reject the null hypothesis that the difference in each group mean relative to poor raters is zero.

Table 10:Results


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The main characteristics that distinguish the poor raters from the other four groups are as follows: Students tend to feel threatened Students tend to feel isolated They miss not seeing and hearing the instructor They do not feel part of group They are less motivated to participate and to learn, and in fact they report decreased learning They see the online educational experience as very different from that of the classroom Finally, they were much less likely to enjoy the online course.

Table 11. Focuses on Perceived Learning in Relation to Social Presence


Table 11 shows descriptive statistics (means), i.e., the percent of students who rated the amount learned in the online course in relation to social presence. Nineteen questions from the instrument were selected for this purpose.

Table 11






Students rated the amount they learned in the online course as follows: Increased (29%), Increased Somewhat (10%), No Change (38%), Decreased Somewhat (16%), and Decreased (7%). Column 2 shows that of those students indicating that the amount learned increased, only 37% missed the instructor‟s presence, as compared to 63% of those reporting that the amount learned decreased somewhat (column 5), and 100% of those who indicated that the amount learned decreased (column 6). We observe an inverse relationship between perceived learning and social presence; specifically, as perceived learning decreases, a larger percentage of students missed the instructor‟s presence.

Table 12




1. The difference between each group mean and those who said that the amount learned decreased, the benchmark group, is examined and t-stats and pvalues were calculated in order to test whether the difference in means is statistically significant. 2. In question 1 (Learned a great deal about the instructor), columns 2, 3, 4 & 5, the t-stats are significant, indicating that we reject the null hypothesis that the difference in each group mean relative to the benchmark group is zero.

Table 12: Results


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The main characteristics that distinguish the “least learners” from the other four groups are as follows: Students tend to feel threatened Students tend to feel isolated They missed not seeing and hearing the instructor They do not feel part of group Are less motivated to participate and to learn The online educational experience is very different from that of the classroom.

Overall Results


The results in tables 11 & 12 confirm those reported in tables 9 and 10, and provide statistically significant evidence that educational outcomes are adversely affected by a diminution of social presence in online classes.

Conclusions
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This work shows that in a statistically significant proportion of online students: The motivation to learn decreases Tend to feel isolated Tend to be threatened Miss not seeing and hearing the instructor Find the online medium to be a poor way to communicate and interact with others, and In fact, the report shows a decrease in perceived learning. All of the above underscore the importance of social presence in online education. This is an important issue that educational leaders should take into account.

Recommendations
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1. Training classes to prepare instructors to design quality online courses 2. Alerting students about the negative aspects of online learning and how to overcome them 3. Pre-testing students to determine if they are ready to tackle online courses 4. Instructors should encourage students to interact with others by assigning group projects, case studies and discussion questions via chat-room and discussion board 5. Instructors must have an active participation rule in classes in a way that students feel the instructor‟s social presence Informal gathering of instructors with students or among students 6. Use streaming videos to make sure the students feel the instructor‟s social presence.

Recommendations for Further Study






1. A study could be conducted to include a larger sample of students in the Lone Star College System in order to determine the extent to which the results generalize to students in other departments besides Business and Technology, and in other locations 2. A study could be conducted to include undergraduate students at the university level in order to ascertain if the results generalize to a larger cross section of students including juniors and seniors. 3. A study could be conducted to include graduate students at the university level in order to ascertain if the results generalize to them as well.

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