Teaching PresenceHigher Education ServicesW H I T E PA P E R
What is teaching presence?The relationship betweeninstructor and student isat the heart of the learningprocess. Instructional settingscharacterized by frequent andmeaningful instructor-studentinteractions have consistentlybeen found to support studentachievement and learningsatisfaction (Cornelius-White,2007; Wit, Wheeless, &Allen, 2004).2 Teaching Presence White PaperWith responsibilities ranging from the selectionof appropriate instructional methods tofostering positive and supportive learningclimates, the evidence that instructors playa critical and influential role in supportingstudent achievement is robust (Hattie, 2009;Nye, Konstantopoulous, & Hedges, 2004).As education has increasingly moved online,however, many of the interactional affordancestypically found in a traditional classroom havebeen displaced by new technologies or havebeen made impractical by geographic andtemporal distances. In online learning, forexample, instructor-student communication isprimarily computer mediated, often involvingasynchronous text-based exchanges, and thuslacks the physical nuances and immediacyof face-to-face interactions. These significantchanges in instructor-student dynamics haveprompted educators to call for increasedresearch into the emerging roles andresponsibilities of online instructors. Fromthis research has emerged the concept ofteaching presence, broadly characterized asthe virtual “visibility” of an instructor in anonline learning environment, an idea that hasbecome the subject of significant scholarlyattention in recent years (Baker, 2010). Whileteaching presence is still an emerging areaof inquiry, and recommendations remaintentative, substantial progress has beenmade in conceptualizing and investigating theimportance of establishing teaching presencein online learning (Swan, 2003).
Teaching presence:identifying a frameworkIn an effort to promote best teaching practices, anumber of empirically-informed guidelines havebeen proposed during the past several decadesto formalize available research on teachingand learning (e.g., Chickering & Gamson, 1987).More recently, scholars have sought to developupdated models that capture the unique and novelfeatures of learning in the online medium. Onemodel that has generated significant interest fromresearchers of online learning is the Communityof Inquiry (COI) framework proposed by Garrison,Anderson, and Archer (2000). Garrison, et al.contend that effective online learning/teaching isbest understood in terms of the interrelationship ofthree types of presence: (1) cognitive presence, theability of learners to construct meaning and buildunderstanding; (2) social presence, the capacityof learners to present themselves as “real people”with individual characteristics; and (3) teachingpresence, the design and facilitation of cognitive/social presences to achieve learning outcomes.The COI framework conceptualizes effective onlinelearning as the result of appropriately designedand encouraged interactions between instructionalcontent, students, and instructors (Swan, 2003).Most relevant for our purposes is the conceptof teaching presence which has, to a significantextent, framed past and current research into theactivities of successful online instructors.Teaching presence is defined in the COI model as“the design, facilitation, and direction of [student]cognitive and social processes for the purpose ofrealizing personally meaningful and educationallyworthwhile learning outcomes” (Anderson, Rourke,Garrison, & Archer, 2001). More concretely,teaching presence consists of three discreteelements: instructional design and organization,facilitation of discourse, and direct instructionalactivities. It is claimed that teaching presence isthe “binding element” that connects an onlinelearning community together and makes possible3 Teaching Presence White Paperthe cognitive and social activities required foreffective online learning (Garrison, et al., 2000;Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005). A closer lookat these elements of teaching presence revealmore detailed guidelines for online instructors.Teaching presence begins prior to anyinteractions with students through the designand organization of an online course (Arbaugh,2007). Decisions regarding course goals,timetables, and curricular materials reflect theinstructor’s role as the primary designer andadministrator of students’ learning experience(Anderson, et al., 2001). Successfully fulfilling thisrole—for instance, by making learning outcomesclear and ensuring a strong link between learningactivities and assessments—supports students’efforts to navigate a course and constructmeaning from instructional content. Instructorsalso play a critical role in facilitating discourseamong course participants. Learning outcomesare improved when students actively participatein collaborative dialogues with other participants(peers and teachers) through discussions thatpersonalize, challenge, and expand on thetopics covered in class. As a result, instructorshave a primary role in promoting productivediscourse by focusing class discussions, raisingpertinent questions, finding areas of consensus,and moderating student participation (Shea,Li, & Pickett, 2006). Finally, teaching presencedepends on the effective and frequent use ofdirect instruction. Instructors engage in directCourseDesign nTeaching Presence
Notably, research has also indicated that teaching presence is more predictiveof student success in online learning than interactions with peers.instruction when exercising scholarly leadership,through coherent content presentation and theinjection of external resources/perspectives, andconducting evaluative activities, such as providingfeedback or assessing student understanding(Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005). It should benoted that these interactions between teacher andstudent do not require synchronicity; in fact, researchsuggests that online courses employing an effectiveasynchronous approach often achieve greaterstudent achievement than those mandating frequentsynchronous interactions (Bernard, et al., 2004).The construct of teaching presence as describedby the COI framework provides an intuitive andexplanatorily powerful framework for understandingthe important roles of effective online instructors.For these reasons it has found widespread supportamong online educators and is arguably the mostinfluential and widely used model for researchingteaching online (Anderson, 2008). Accordingly, theCOI framework has generated a significant scholarlyliterature among online learning researchers.Research findings on teaching presenceThe general literature consensus is that teachingpresence is strongly predictive of several importantvariables believed to contribute to student learning(Garrison, 2007; Swan, 2003). Studies investigatingthe influence of teaching presence in online learningconsistently report a significant positive relationshipbetween COI teaching presence indicators (i.e.,course design, facilitation, and direct instruction)and student perceptions of learning, motivation, andsatisfaction ( Akyol & Garrison, 2008; Baker, 2010;4 Teaching Presence White PaperRusso & Benson, 2005; Shea, Pickett, & Pelz, 2003).Additionally, teaching presence has been foundto be positively correlated with students’ feelingsof belonging to a learning community and canaccount for significant variance in student retention(Boston, Diaz, Gibson, Ice, Richardson, & Swan,2010; Shea, et al., 2006).Notably, research has also indicated that teachingpresence is more predictive of student successin online learning than interactions with peers(Marks, Sibley, & Arbaugh, 2005; Means, Bakia, &Murphy, 2014). This finding has been attributed tothe observation that a strong teaching presence,as evidenced by a robust course structure andactive instructor leadership, is crucial for achievingdeep and meaningful learning outcomes (Garrison& Cleveland-Innes, 2005). Conversely, onlinecourses dominated by student interactions caneasily devolve into exchanges of poorly-reasonedpersonal experiences and extended serialmonologues (Angeli, Valanides, & Bonk, 2003).While research on the importance of teachingpresence is promising, we must remain cautiousabout overreaching in our conclusions. Currentresearch is preliminary and largely based on selfreport data utilizing student/instructor surveys.It thus lacks the experimental rigor to makeany definitive causal claims about the impact ofteaching presence on improving student learning(Rourke & Kanuka, 2009). That being said, recentpreliminary research explicitly investigating thelink between teaching presence and objectivelearning outcomes (i.e., course grades) has beenencouraging (Shea, Vickers, & Hayes, 2010).
Establishing an effective teachingpresenceAlthough available research provides onlyprovisional guidance, the importance of the threeelements of teaching presence are corroboratedby surveys of experienced online studentsand teachers (Kupczynski, Ice, Wiesenmayer, &McCluskey, 2010; Shea, et al. 2003; Sheridan & Kelly,2010). In addition, many of the specific guidelinesassociated with teaching presence—e.g., providingCourse Design/Organization Provide clear course learninggoals. Share a course overview andwelcome message Hold initial face-to-face orsynchronous meeting tointroduce teacher and course. Ensure instructions forcompleting course activitiesand using required technologyare clear. Set expectations for studentparticipation and activity in thecourse. Communicate assignmentdeadlines and give frequentreminders as deadlinesapproach.students with clear goals, frequent feedback, andstrong direct instruction—are well-supported byavailable empirical research (Hattie, 2009).Below we outline a number of techniques forcreating and maintaining an effective onlineteaching presence utilizing the COI framework.These suggestions have been adapted from anumber of sources (Anderson, et al., 2001; Baker,2010; Lowenthal & Parscal, 2008).Facilitating Discourse Begin course with a trustbuilding conversation (e.g.,introductions and icebreakers). Offer specific ideas/shareexpert and scholarlyknowledge. Provide clear discussionparticipation requirements(length, content expectations,netiquette, and timeliness). Help students correctmisconceptions/diagnoseunderstanding. Foster fruitful discussionsthrough engaging/open-endedquestions. Challenge and test studentideas (ask for justification/rationale). Monitor discussion to ensureproductive dialogue and shapedirection as necessary. Model appropriatecontributions. Provide engaging, relevant, andappropriate active learningopportunities. Focus on student creatingmeaning and confirmingunderstanding. Design assessments that arecongruent with learning goals. Encourage “thinking out loud”and openness for all ideas. Communicate expectationsfor teacher participation (e.g.,extent of teacher involvementin class discussions and emailresponse times). Identify areas of agreement/disagreement. Present content in aconversational rather thanacademic style. Reinforce and encourageparticipation (draw in less activeparticipants and temper moreactive posters). Find consensus/agreement;summarize class discussions Share personal meaning/experiences.5 Teaching Presence White PaperDirect Instruction Suggest new resources/content; inject knowledge fromoutside resources. Connect ideas (analogies,related topics) and makeabstract concepts concrete. Provide personal anecdotesand commentary on teacher’sown efforts to master material. Provide frequent feedbackand evaluation guidance(particularly explanatoryfeedback—expansion of ideas/different explanation). Present content in effectiveand focused manner. Raise questions that leadto reflection and cognitivedissonance. Scaffold studentunderstanding as necessary. Annotate/comment onassigned scholarly work topersonalize and add interest.
Where can I learn more about teaching presence?An important starting point for reading about the teaching presence framework discussedin this paper is the influential article by Anderson, et al. (2001). For an accessible and helpfuldiscussion of specific behaviors that online teachers can adopt to promote teaching presence,the book chapter by Anderson is recommended (2008). Finally, for a concise and informativesummary of the history and current state of the teaching presence literature, the article byBaker (2010) is particularly helpful.ReferencesAkyol, Z., & Garrison, D. R. (2008). The development of a community of inquiry over time in an online course understanding theprogression and integration of social, cognitive and teaching presence. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 12(3), 3–22.Anderson, T. (2008) Teaching In An Online Learning Context. In T. Anderson (Ed.) The Theory and Practice of Online Learning 2ndEdition, Edmonton, AB: AU Press, 343- 365.Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Journalof Asynchronous Learning, 5, 1–17.Angeli, C., Valanides, N., & Bonk, C. J. (2003). Communication in a Web-based conferencing system: The quality of computermediated interactions. British Journal of Educational Technology, 34, 31–43. doi:10.1111/1467-8535.d01-4Arbaugh, J. B. (2007). An empirical verification of the community of inquiry framework. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 73-85.Baker, C. (2010). The Impact of Instructor Immediacy and Presence for Online Student Affective Learning, Cognition, and Motivation.Journal of Educators Online, 7, 1–30.Bernard, R.M., Abrami, P.C., Lou, Y., Borokhovski, E., Wade, A., Wozney, L., Wallet, P. A., Fiset, M., & Huang, B. (2004). How doesdistance education compare with classroom instruction? A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Review of Educational Research,74, 379-439.Boston, W., Díaz, S. R., Gibson, A. M., Ice, P., Richardson, J., & Swan, K. (2010). An exploration of the relationship between indicatorsof the community of inquiry framework and retention in online programs. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 14(3), 3–19.Chickering, A., & Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. AAHE bulletin, 3, 1-7.Cornelius-White, J. (2007). Learner-Centered Teacher-Student Relationships Are Effective: A Meta-Analysis. Review of EducationalResearch, 77(1), 113–143.Garrison, D. (2007). Online Community of Inquiry Review: Social, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence Issues. Journal of AsynchronousLearning Networks, 11(1), 61–72. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id EJ842688Garrison, D., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in highereducation. The Internet and Higher Education, 2, 87–105.Garrison, D., & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2005). Facilitating cognitive presence in online learning: Interaction is not enough. The AmericanJournal of Distance Education, 19, 133–148.Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis Of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating To Achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.Kupczynski, L., Ice, P., Wiesenmayer, R., & McCluskey, F. (2010). Student Perceptions of the Relationship between Indicators ofTeaching Presence and Success in Online Courses. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 9, 23–43.6 Teaching Presence White Paper
Lowenthal, P. R., & Parscal, T. (2008). Teaching presence. The Learning Curve, 3, 1-4.Marks, R. B., Sibley, S., & Arbaugh, J. (2005). A Structural Equation Model of Predictors for Effective Online Learning. Journal ofManagement Education, 29, 531–563. doi:10.1177/1052562904271199Means, B., Bakia, M., & Murphy, R. (2014). Learning Online: What Research Tells Us About Whether, When, And How. New York, NY:Routledge.Nye, B., Konstantopoulos, S., & Hedges, L. V. (2004). How Large Are Teacher Effects? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 26,237-257. doi:10.3102/01623737026003237Rourke, L., & Kanuka, H. (2009). Learning in Communities of Inquiry: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Distance Education, 23(1),19–48. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov.ezproxy.bethel.edu/?id EJ836030Russo, T., & Benson, S. (2005). Learning with invisible others: Perceptions of online presence and their relationship tocognitive and affective learning. Educational Technology and Society, 8, 54–62. Retrieved from , P., Pickett, A., & Pelz, W. (2003). A follow-up investigation of “teaching presence” in the SUNY Learning Network. Journal ofAsynchronous Learning. 7, 61–80.Shea, P., Sau Li, C., & Pickett, A. (2006). A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online andweb-enhanced college courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 9, 175–190. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2006.06.005Shea, P., Vickers, J., & Hayes, S. (2010). Lens of Teaching Presence in the Community of Measures and Approach. InternationalReview of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 11, 127-154.Sheridan, K., & Kelly, M. (2010). The indicators of instructor presence that are important to students in online courses. MERLOTJournal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6, 767–779.Swan, K. (2003). Learning effectiveness online: What the research tells us. In J. Bourne & J. C. Moore (Eds) Elements of Quality OnlineEducation, Practice and Direction. Needham, MA: Sloan Center for Online Education, 13–45.Witt, P. L., Wheeless, L. R., & Allen, M. (2004). A meta-analytical review of the relationship between teacher immediacy and studentlearning. Communication Monographs, 71, 184–207. doi:10.1080/036452042000228054Every learning moment shapes dreams, guides futures, and strengthenscommunities. You inspire learners with life-changing experiences, and your work givesus purpose. At Pearson, we are devoted to creating effective, engaging solutions thatprovide boundless opportunities for learners at every stage of the learning journey.Course Design, Development, and Academic Research Jay Lynch, Ph.D.Copyright 2016 Pearson Education, Inc. or its affiliate(s). All rights reserved. INSTR6230-KM-02/2016
three types of presence: (1) cognitive presence, the ability of learners to construct meaning and build understanding; (2) social presence, the capacity of learners to present themselves as “real people” with individual characteristics; and (3) teaching presence, the design and facilitation of cognitive/