Date of Award
EdD Doctor of Education
Brock S. Allen, PhD; Cathie J. Atkins, PhD; Susan M. Zgliczynski, PhD; Mark A. Laumakis, PhD
adult learners, audio, higher education, instructor immediacy, learning outcomes, online learning environments, perception, social presence, text chat, undergraduate Psychology course, universities, video
The rising number of adult learners interested in online distance education, coupled with the increasing competition between educational institutions have forced universities to identify alternative options for course offerings, such as online or blended learning. Instructor immediacy (the measure of the psychological distance which an instructor puts between himself and his students) received significant attention in the communication literature and several studies reported that instructor verbal and nonverbal immediacy behaviors are associated with learning outcomes, satisfaction, and motivation. However, few researchers have examined instructor immediacy in distance learning settings. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of instructor immediacy behaviors on student perception of instructor immediacy and social presence (the degree to which a person is perceived as “real” in mediated communication) in two online, computer conferencing environments: (a) video and audio with text chat and (b) audio with text chat. Further, this study sought to identify the relationship between perceived instructor immediacy and perceived social presence within the context of the different computer conferencing environments. An ancillary purpose was to determine the effect of immediacy behaviors on learning outcomes as indicated by posttest scores and identify the relationship between perceived instructor immediacy and posttest scores. The study employed a randomized two-factor design to test the effects of instructor immediacy behaviors (high vs. low) and delivery modality (audio vs. video) on student perception of instructor immediacy, perception of social presence, and learning outcomes. Specifically, 433 students enrolled in two sections of an undergraduate psychology course at San Diego State University were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Each group viewed a different version of a scripted and recorded 20-minute online lesson on current perspectives in psychology. Students who viewed the high-immediacy sessions indicated significantly higher perception of instructor immediacy and social presence than students who viewed the low-immediacy sessions. In addition, students who viewed the high-immediacy video session indicated the highest perception of instructor immediacy and social presence. The results also showed that there was a significant difference in learning outcomes as indicated by immediate posttest scores between students in the high-immediacy audio group and the low-immediacy video group. However, no significant difference was found between the four groups on the learning outcomes as indicated by their scores on the delayed posttest. The correlation analysis revealed a significant positive relationship between perceived instructor immediacy and perceived instructor social presence. Further, a regression analysis revealed that instructor immediacy significantly predicted social presence. Finally, no significant relationship was found between perceived instructor immediacy and learning outcomes as indicated by the immediate or delayed posttest. These findings have significant implications for institutions of higher education that are selecting computer conferencing tools and training faculty to deliver courses online. In addition, this study lays the groundwork for future research in this area and potentially creates a greater awareness regarding the effects of instructor immediacy in online learning environments.
Dissertation: Open Access
Digital USD Citation
Schutt, Maria EdD, "The Effects of Instructor Immediacy in Online Learning Environments" (2007). Dissertations. 888.