Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

STEM and Professional Studies

Committee Director

Linda Bol

Committee Director

Jill Stefaniak

Committee Member

Gary R. Morrison

Abstract

The relationships between learner-to-learner interactions, achievement, social presence, and satisfaction in online learning have varying degrees of strength according to the research. More evidence is needed to identify clarify relationships among these variables and to identify best practices for designing learner-to-learner interactions to increase achievement, level of social presence, and learner satisfaction. This non-experimental, comparative study investigated the strategies used for learner-to-learner interactions effects on achievement, social presence, and satisfaction. Surveys measuring social presence and interaction quality were administered to instructors and students enrolled in 17 undergraduate asynchronous online courses. The surveys for instructors and students were the same, except for slight modifications to address the appropriate audience. A survey measuring learning satisfaction was only administered to the students. Achievement measures were collected via three performance ratings from the instructors. Designed interactions that have a cooperative intent increased learner’s achievement and level of satisfaction. Designed interactions should include (a) positive interdependence; (b) individual accountability; (c) promotive interactions, and (d) elaborate explanations.

The effect social presence had on achievement, satisfaction, and interaction quality were mixed. A higher level of instructor social presence increases learner’s achievement, level of learner social presence, and level of learner satisfaction. A higher level of learner social presence increases level of interactive quality and level of learner satisfaction. The findings suggest that higher levels of interaction quality increased levels of instructor social presence, learner social presence, and learner satisfaction. The quality of interaction may be a stronger predictor for level of social presence and learner satisfaction. More research in this area is needed to validate this conclusion. Further research is also recommended to identify and validate the relationships between these variables and best practices in designing interactive experiences in online asynchronous undergraduate courses.

ISBN

9781339855998