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A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses

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Internet and Higher Education Volume 9, Number 3, ISSN 1096-7516 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This paper focuses on two components of a model for online teaching and learning—“teaching presence” and “community”. It is suggested that previous research points to the critical role that community plays in academic success and persistence in higher education. Through a review of recent literature it is proposed that teaching presence–viewed as the core roles of the online instructor–is a promising mechanism for developing learning community in online environments. This investigation presents a multi-institutional study of 1067 students across 32 different colleges that further substantiates this claim. An instrument to assess instructor teaching presence (“The Teaching Presence Scale”) is presented and validated. Factor and regression analysis indicate a significant link between students' sense of learning community and effective instructional design and “directed facilitation” on the part of course instructors, and highlights interesting differences between online and classroom environments. Alternative hypotheses regarding student demographics associated with variables such as age (the “net generation” effect) and gender are also examined. Despite recent assertions that younger students are or soon will be too sophisticated to “feel at home” in largely text-based asynchronous learning environments, no significant effects were found by demographic differences examined. Recommendations for online course design, pedagogy, and future research are included.


Shea, P., Sau Li, C. & Pickett, A. (2006). A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses. Internet and Higher Education, 9(3), 175-190. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved February 20, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Internet and Higher Education on January 29, 2019. Internet and Higher Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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