Examination of the Relationship Between Instructor Presence and the Learning Experience in an Asynchronous Online Environment

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Virginia Tech

This study identifies and assesses a more specific relationship between the online instructor presence and the online learner's experience than is currently offered in previous studies. Guided by three questions, the study asked: (a) What is the relationship between the online instructor communication style and the learning experience, as defined by the adult learner's cognitive achievement, ratings of the overall course experience, and perceptions of the instructor's performance; (b) What is the relationship between the strength (contact frequency with the learner) of that communication style (facilitating or non-facilitating) and the learning experience; and (c) What is the relationship between selected learner demographic variables (previous subject experience on the job and previous experience with the vendor's online learning environment) and the learning experience.

The study included an examination of ex post facto data that depicted the interactions between 89 students and 9 instructors in 358 asynchronous, professional development class discussions. The examination revealed the presence and frequency of select instructor behaviors more acutely define the communication style and strength of the online instructor's relationship to the professional adult's online learning experience. The study's additional findings support earlier research that suggests prior learner experience relates positively to online learning outcomes. These findings contribute to the larger body of knowledge related to online instruction.

online instructor facilitation, instructor communication style frequency of instru, online instructor presence, learner prior experience