Students’ Perceptions of Social Presence: Rhetorical and Relational Goals Across Three Mediated Instructional Designs

March 23, 2014

Social PresenceThe explosion in the number of students taking online courses warrants a deeper understanding of instructor strategies that meet rhetorical and relational goals. Guided by social presence theory and rhetorical and relational goals theory, 329 participants were randomly assigned into one of three manipulated social presence online learning conditions to watch a short lecture. The student perceptions of social presence, instructor–student rapport, and perceptions of the instructor competence were examined as influential factors in learning (i.e., perceived and actual recall). Generally, students’ rhetorical and relational goals were more likely to be met in online courses that included higher levels of social presence via auditory and text or auditory, text, and visual components when compared to a text-only format. Further, students demonstrated better quiz performance in conditions with higher social presence. However, only instructor competence, and not social presence or instructor rapport, predicted students’ quiz performance.

MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

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