Organization, Information and Learning Sciences ETDs


Mark Pugsley

Publication Date



The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of high school teachers regarding social presence in online instruction. Participants were nine teachers, all new to teaching online. The influence of an Online Social Presence Rubric was studied along with other variables that affected understanding of social presence during one teaching semester. Five primary questions guided the research with the intention of furthering knowledge about social phenomena in the field of online education: (I) What do teachers identify as the central constructs to social presence; (II) How does the Online Social Presence Rubric affect teachers understanding of social presence; (III) In what ways do teachers perceive, use or adopt the rubric as an instructional tool; (IV) What other variables influence the teachers' perceptions and practices of social presence; and (V) What did teachers learn about social presence after teaching their first online course? Participants were experienced classroom teachers in a large urban school district who were part of a high school's transition to online course delivery. The research design compared analysis in semi-structured and open interview questions before and after the online classes were taught. Observation of each online class within the learning management system took place at the end of the semester. Due to the exploratory nature of this research, the small number of participants and its specific geographic context, this study offers only descriptive and speculative findings on how teacher social perceptions influence design and instructional practices. The findings included what teachers learned after a significant loss in social presence occurred during instruction and includes suggestions for improving social presence in online courses.

Degree Name

Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology

Level of Degree


Department Name

Organization, Information & Learning Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Noll, Bruce

Second Committee Member

Salisbury, Mark

Third Committee Member

Gunawardena, Charlotte

Fourth Committee Member

Sangra Morer, Albert

Project Sponsors

The Deborah K. LaPointe OLIT Endowed Scholarship




Web-based instruction--Social aspects, Education, Secondary--Computer-asisted instruction--Social aspects, Human-computer interaction, High school teachers--Attitudes

Document Type