833 maddrell intro lit review | Educational Technology | Distance Education

Introduction and Literature Review Running head: INTRODUCTION AND LITERATURE REVIEW


Introduction and Literature Review Jennifer Maddrell Old Dominion University ELS 833 Advanced Research Design Dr. Duggan March 23, 2009

Introduction and Literature Review Introduction In the 2006-07 academic year, 61 percent of U.S. higher education institutions offered online courses (Parsad & Lewis, 2008). Enrollment in online courses is growing at a rate in excess of the growth rate of the total higher education population. As of the fall 2007 semester, an estimated 3.9 million students, roughly 22 percent of all students enrolled in degree-granting U.S. higher education institutions, were taking at least one online course (Allen & Seaman, 2008). This level of online course enrollment represents a 12.9 percent growth rate over the fall 2006 enrollment which is significant higher than the 1.2 percent growth rate in overall higher education enrollment. To facilitate their online courses, 75 percent of U.S. higher education institutions which offer distance education courses utilize some form of synchronous computerbased media (Parsad & Lewis). Increasing, these synchronous technologies include options for parallel voice, video, and text based synchronous communication as found in leading online


conferencing systems such as Elluminate Live and Adobe Connect (Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, & Barron, 2007). While a host of studies have examined asynchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC) in distance education, relatively little research has been conducted on learner experiences associated with synchronous CMC (Park & Bonk, 2007). In addition, no studies have examined the impact of parallel communication occurring within synchronous online conferencing systems. While some learners may perceive a positive benefit from the additional opportunities for real-time peer and teacher support, the parallel channels of communication may also pose a negative disorienting distraction. The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of the competing parallel synchronous communication on learners' perceptions of social presence through content analysis and surveys of learners enrolled in a college level online course.

Introduction and Literature Review Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication The set of available synchronous communication tools in online conferencing systems, including public and private text messaging (chat), video and audio interfaces, web browsers, polling tools, application sharing, and whiteboards, offer instructors and learners expanded opportunity for interaction and content sharing (Shi & Morrow, 2006). While voice and video


communication tends to dominate the main channel instructional presentation in the synchronous online conferencing environment, the text chat feature often supports spontaneous and unfacilitated parallel (backchannel, sidebar or side-talk) exchanges among participants. However, little research has been conducted on learner experiences in these online conferencing environments (Shi & Morrow). Therefore, the effect of the competing parallel synchronous communication on the learners' perceptions of social presence is unknown. Social Presence Social presence theory builds upon the concept of social presence from the work of Short, Williams, and Christie (1976) in technology-mediated communication and is often used as a theoretical framework in the study of asynchronous computer-mediated communication (DeWever, Schellens, Valcke, & Keer, 2006). Social presence within the context of a computermediated classroom is the degree to which learners present themselves and are perceived socially and affectively as real people in mediated communication (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). Research on social presence in computer-mediated learning environments has moved beyond an evaluation of the medium’s effect on social presence to an evaluation of how social presence can be cultivated to support critical thinking and critical discourse within the computermediated environment . Findings suggests social presence is related to student satisfaction and learning (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007; Gunawardena, 1995; Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997; Rourke,

Introduction and Literature Review Anderson, Garrison, & Walter Archer, 1999; So & Brush, 2008) and while social presence alone will not ensure the development of critical discourse, it is difficult for such discourse to develop without it . Overall, research suggests that (a) interactivity impacts social presence, (b) patterns of communication and perceptions of social presence change over time, and (c) social presence can be impacted by the social context, the design of the instruction, and the support of the instructor (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007; Gunawardena, 1995; Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997; So & Brush, 2008). However, notably missing from research on social presence in the computermediated classroom are studies involving synchronous CMC. Measurement of Social Presence in CMC Content Analysis While a range of quantitative content analysis methods have been used to measure presence within asynchronous CMC, presents a content analysis tool for assessing social presence from the transcripts of an asynchronous computer-mediated environment which has been used in several subsequent studies (Rourke & Anderson, 2004). Based on defined categories and indicators of social presence, including (a) emotional expression seen in affective


responses, (b) open communication seen in interactive responses, and (c) group cohesion seen in cohesive responses, messages in asynchronous text-based transcripts were assigned to one of the three categories. The researchers measured the social presence density by dividing the number of social presence indicators coded in the transcript by the number of words in the transcript. However, Rourke and Anderson (2004) argue additional research is still needed to validate prior findings. In addition, Shi, Mishara, Bonk, Tan, & Zhao (2006) argue content analysis methods for asynchronous computer-mediated communication must be modified to address the nature of synchronous text chat which is characterized by disrupted, fragmented, and

Introduction and Literature Review


often disjointed threads of discourse. Therefore, the present study will utilize the content analysis tool forwarded by utilizing the threaded discourse analysis modifications suggested by Shi et al. Surveys of Student Perceptions Gunawardena (1995) and Gunawardena and Zittle (1997) utilized a survey instrument to solicit learner perceptions of their experience with the computer-mediated communication, including satisfaction, social presence, participation, reactions to training, and attitudes toward the medium. Suggesting that previous survey methods failed to capture a thorough perception of social presence, Tu (2002) devised the Social Presence and Privacy Questionnaire (SPPQ) which measured student’s perception of social context, online communication, interactivity, and privacy. So and Brush (2008) subsequently combined social presence scale items of Tu’s SPPQ with satisfaction measures used in the survey instrument developed by Gunawardena and Zittle (1997). The resulting Collaborative Learning, Social Presence, and Satisfaction (CLSS) questionnaire measures general demographic information, satisfaction, and social presence and will be utilized in this study.

Introduction and Literature Review References Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the Course Online Education in the United States, 2008. Sloan Survey of Online Learning (p. 23). 2008 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, Babson Survey Research Group and The Sloan Consortium. De Wever, B., Schellens, T., Valcke, M., & Keer, H. V. (2006). Content analysis schemes to analyze transcripts of online asynchronous discussion groups: A review. Computers & Education, 46(1), 6-28. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2005.04.005.


Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105. Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. Internet & Higher Education, 10(3), 157-172. doi: Article. Gunawardena, C. N. (1995). Social Presence Theory and Implications for Interaction and Collaborative Learning in Computer Conferences. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1(2), 147-166. Gunawardena, C. N., & Zittle, F. J. (1997). Social Presence as a Predictor of Satisfaction within a Computer-Mediated Conferencing Environment. American Journal of Distance Education, 11(3), 8. Park, Y. J., & Bonk, C. J. (2007). Synchronous learning experiences: Distance and residential learners’ perspectives in a blended graduate course. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 6(3), 245-264.

Introduction and Literature Review Parsad, B., & Lewis, L. (2008). Distance Education at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions: 2006-07. National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Rourke, L., & Anderson, T. (2004). Validity in quantitative content analysis. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(1), 5-18. doi: 10.1007/BF02504769. Rourke, L., Anderson, T., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (1999). Assessing Social Presence in Asynchronous Text-Based Computer Conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14(2), 50-71. Schullo, S., Hilbelink, A., Venable, M., & Barron, A. (2007). Selecting a Virtual Classroom


System: Elluminate Live vs. Macromedia Breeze (Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional). Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(4). Shi, S., & Morrow, B. V. (2006). E-Conferencing for Instruction: What Works? Educause Quarterly, 29(4), 42. Shi, S., Mishara, P., Bonk, C. J., Tan, S., & Zhao, Y. (2006). Thread Theory: A Framework Applied to Content Analysis of Synchronous Computer Mediated Communication Data. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Vol. 3(No. 3). So, H., & Brush, T. A. (2008). Student Perceptions of Collaborative Learning, Social Presence and Satisfaction in a Blended Learning Environment: Relationships and Critical Factors. Computers & Education, 51(1), 318-336. Tu, C. (2002). The Measurement of Social Presence in an Online Learning Environment. International Journal on E-Learning, 1(2), 34-45.

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