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An exploratory study of teacher perception of social presence: Design and instructional practices for new online teachers

, The University of New Mexico, United States

The University of New Mexico . Awarded


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.


Pugsley, M. An exploratory study of teacher perception of social presence: Design and instructional practices for new online teachers. Ph.D. thesis, The University of New Mexico. Retrieved October 14, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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