Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Interdepartmental Area of Educational Studies (Educational Leadership in Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Sheldon L. Stick. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2010
Copyright 2010 Elizabeth Laves


This mixed methods concurrent triangulation design study was predicated upon two models that advocated a connection between teaching presence and perceived learning: the Community of Inquiry Model of Online Learning developed by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000); and the Online Interaction Learning Model by Benbunan-Fich, Hiltz, and Harasim (2005). The objective was to learn how teaching presence impacted students’ perceptions of learning and sense of community in intensive online distance education courses developed and taught by instructors at a regional comprehensive university.

In the quantitative phase online surveys collected relevant data from participating students (N = 397) and selected instructional faculty (N = 32) during the second week of a three-week Winter Term. Student information included: demographics such as age, gender, employment status, and distance from campus; perceptions of teaching presence; sense of community; perceived learning; course length; and course type. The students claimed having positive relationships between teaching presence, perceived learning, and sense of community. The instructors showed similar positive relationships with no significant differences when the student and instructor data were compared. The qualitative phase consisted of interviews with 12 instructors who had completed the online survey and replied to all of the open-response questions.

The two phases were integrated using a matrix generation, and the analysis allowed for conclusions regarding teaching presence, perceived learning, and sense of community. The findings were equivocal with regard to satisfaction with course length and the relative importance of the teaching presence components. A model was provided depicting relationships between and among teaching presence components, perceived learning, and sense of community in intensive online courses.