833 Social Presence in Synchronous CMC Research Proposal

The purpose of this concurrent mixed methods study is to examine the effect of competing parallel synchronous computer-mediated communication on learners' perceptions of social presence.

833 Social Presence in Synchronous CMC Maddrell Research Proposal FINAL

Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication Running head: SOCIAL PRESENCE IN SYNCHRONOUS CMC 1 Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication Jennifer Maddrell Old Dominion University ELS 833 Advanced Research Design Dr. Duggan April 27, 2009 Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication As of the fall 2007 semester, an estimated 3.9 million college students, roughly 22% of all students enrolled in degree-granting U.S. higher education institutions, were taking at least one online course which represents a 12.9% increase over the fall 2006 semester (Allen & Seaman, 2008). This growth in online course enrollment is significantly higher than the 1.2% increase in overall higher education enrollment over the same period (Allen & Seaman). During 2 the 2006-07 academic year, 61% of U.S. higher education institutions offered online courses and of those institutions 75% utilized some form of synchronous computer-based media to facilitate live online instruction at a distance (Parsad & Lewis, 2008). The latest synchronous technologies used by educators include options for parallel voice, video, and text based synchronous communication as found in leading online conferencing systems such as Elluminate Live and Adobe Connect (Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, & Barron, 2007). While many studies have examined asynchronous computer-mediated communication (CMC) in distance education, relatively little research has been conducted on learners’ experiences with synchronous CMC (Park & Bonk, 2007). In addition, no studies have examined the impact of parallel communication occurring within synchronous online conferencing systems. While some learners may perceive a positive benefit from the additional opportunities for real-time peer and teacher support, the parallel channels of communication may also pose a negative disorienting distraction. Purpose of Study The purpose of this concurrent mixed methods study is to examine the effect of competing parallel synchronous computer-mediated communication on learners' perceptions of social presence. In this study, a survey of college students will be used to measure and compare the learners’ perceptions of social presence between two methods of synchronous CMC; one Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication method utilizing only a single main channel of audio and video communication and the other method utilizing an additional text-based channel for simultaneous parallel communication with the main audio and video channel. The nature of the parallel text-based communication among participants will be explored through content analysis of text-chat transcripts from two class sessions in the course. The reason for combining both quantitative and qualitative data within this mixed methods study is to better understand this research problem by considering both quantitative survey data regarding the relationship between the parallel communication and learners’ perceptions of social presence and qualitative transcript analysis data offering insight into the 3 nature of the learners’ text-based parallel communication. This study will focus on the following research questions: 1. What effect does the parallel CMC channel communication have on the learners' perceptions of social presence? 2. To what degree (if any) is the parallel communication supportive of learners’ perceptions of social presence? 3. What is the nature of the parallel text-chat communication and what aspects make the learners feel more (or less) connected to communication in the main channel? 4. How can a parallel text-based channel be used to gauge and foster the learners’ presence with the main channel communication? It is predicted that the parallel synchronous computer-mediated communication will have a significant effect on learners’ social presence. However, it is unclear whether the effect will be positive or negative across learners. While learners may perceive a benefit from the additional Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication peer and teacher support, the parallel text-chat channel of communication may also pose a disorienting distraction. Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication The set of available synchronous communication tools in online conferencing systems, including public and private text-chat, video and audio interfaces, web browsers, polling tools, application sharing, and whiteboards, offer instructors and learners expanded opportunity for interaction, communication, and content sharing (Shi & Morrow, 2006). While audio and video 4 communication tends to dominate the main channel instructional presentation in the synchronous online conferencing environment, the text-chat feature often supports spontaneous and unfacilitated parallel (backchannel, sidebar, or side-talk) exchanges among participants. However, little research has been conducted on learner experiences in these online conferencing environments (Shi & Morrow). Therefore, the effect of the competing parallel synchronous textchat communication on the learners' perceptions of social presence is unknown. Social Presence Social presence theory builds upon the concept of social presence from the work of Short, Williams, and Christie (1976) in technology-mediated communication and is often used as a theoretical framework in the study of asynchronous computer-mediated communication (De Wever, Schellens, Valcke, & Keer, 2006). Social presence within the context of a computermediated classroom is the degree to which learners present themselves and are perceived socially and affectively as real people in mediated communication (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). Research on social presence in asynchronous computer-mediated learning environments has moved beyond an evaluation of the medium’s effect on social presence to an evaluation of how Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication social presence can be cultivated through instructional methods to support critical thinking and critical discourse within the computer-mediated environment . Some suggests social presence is related to student satisfaction and learning (Garrison & 5 Arbaugh, 2007; Gunawardena, 1995; Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997; Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, & Archer, 1999; So & Brush, 2008). Others argue that while social presence alone will not ensure the development of critical discourse, it is difficult for such discourse to develop without it (Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005). Overall, research suggests that (a) interactivity impacts social presence, (b) patterns of communication and perceptions of social presence change over time, and (c) social presence can be impacted by the social context, the design of the instruction, and the support of the instructor (Garrison & Arbaugh; Gunawardena; Gunawardena & Zittle; So & Brush). However, notably missing from research on social presence in the computer-mediated classroom are studies involving synchronous CMC. Methods Mixed Method Research Design Mixed methods research combines both quantitative and qualitative forms of inquiry and allows a comprehensive understanding of the research problem through the collection and analysis of multiple sources of data (Creswell, 2009). A mixed methods research design approach is selected for this study as the quantitative survey analysis will examine the relationship between the parallel synchronous computer-mediated communication and learners’ perceptions of social presence while qualitative transcript analysis will offer insight into the nature of the learners’ communication. As depicted in Appendix A, a concurrent triangulation strategy will be utilized in this study in which the quantitative survey data and qualitative content analysis data will be Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication concurrently collected and analyzed with the results subsequently compared to examine similarities and differences in the findings (Creswell, 2009). The survey data collection and quantitative analysis will offer a comparison of social presence between two methods of synchronous CMC; one method including only a single channel of audio and video communication and the other incorporating an additional text-based channel for parallel communication with the main channel. The nature of the communication among students within the parallel text-chat channel will be explored through content analysis of text-chat transcripts. As shown in Appendix B and described below, both survey and text-chat transcript data will be collected during the fall 2009 semester and will be analyzed in the three months that follow the end of the semester. Within the final results comparison, the findings from the quantitative analysis will be compared to the qualitative text-chat transcript analysis. While this concurrent mixed method approach will allow in a shorter data collection 6 period than if the quantitative and qualitative approaches were done separately or sequentially, it is possible that discrepancies in the results may arise that cannot be resolved with the data collected. For example, the quantitative survey data may suggest that learners perceived overall high levels of social presence, but the qualitative content analysis may suggest relatively few indications of social presence. In contrast, the reverse may occur and the survey data may suggest low perceived levels of social presence with relatively high levels of interaction and communication among learners in the text-chat. Such a discrepancy in results may require future study with additional quantitative or qualitative analysis. Participants Participants in this study will be enrolled students in distance education courses at a large public university in the United States. While the university offers distance courses in a range of Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication 7 formats, eligible courses will include only those distance courses in which (a) seven or more live synchronous computer-mediated online sessions are scheduled during each 16 week semester, and (b) 15 or more students are enrolled. The eligible classes will be stratified into two groups based on whether the existing online conferencing interface used to facilitate the course includes the opportunity for parallel text-chat communication. Currently, parallel text-chat is available in synchronous courses coded in the university’s course catalogue as a video streamed instructional method, but is not available in synchronous courses coded as a two-way audio and video instructional method. From within each group (the two-way audio and video group and the video streamed group), three classes will be randomly assigned to the study. The three courses assigned from the video streamed group will be the experimental group while the three classes from the two-way audio and video group will be the control group. Quantitative Data Collection and Analysis - Survey of Student Perceptions Gunawardena (1995) and Gunawardena and Zittle (1997) utilized a survey instrument to solicit learner perceptions of their experience with asynchronous CMC, including satisfaction, social presence, participation, reactions to training, and attitudes toward the CMC. Suggesting that previous survey methods failed to capture a thorough perception of social presence, Tu (2002) devised the Social Presence and Privacy Questionnaire (SPPQ) which measured students’ perceptions of the social context, online communication, interactivity, and privacy. So and Brush (2008) subsequently combined the social presence scale items of Tu’s SPPQ with the satisfaction measures used in the survey instrument developed by Gunawardena and Zittle (1997). The resulting Collaborative Learning, Social Presence, and Satisfaction (CLSS) questionnaire measured general learner characteristic information, as well as learners’ perceptions regarding satisfaction, collaboration, and social presence. Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication An adapted version of the CLSS questionnaire will be utilized in this study. The adapted 8 version includes similar questionnaire items, but is presented within the context of a synchronous CMC environment, as shown in Appendix C. A link to the online version of the questionnaire will be sent via e-mail to all enrolled students in both the experimental and control groups after the last live synchronous session of the semester. Mean score comparison. For each student, an overall profile score for satisfaction, collaboration, and social presence will be calculated based on the student’s average scores for each category. To examine whether there is a statistically significant difference in the mean satisfaction, collaboration, and social presence scores between the experimental and control groups, separate independent samples t tests of mean differences between the experimental and control group will be calculated. Where a significant difference is suggested, a Cohen’s D effect size will be calculated. Based on the calculated effect size and the overall standard deviation for each measure, the estimated difference in average scores between the groups for each measure will be estimated. Correlation analysis. Using the analysis approach taken by So and Brush (2008), Pearson bivariate correlation coefficients will be calculated to analyze the relationships among the measured satisfaction, collaboration, social presence, and learner characteristics (age, gender, computer competency, distance education experience) measures. In addition, partial correlations will be calculated to control for the type of synchronous discussion (either utilizing or not utilizing the parallel text-chat) and each of the general demographic variables to allow an analysis of the impact of these variables on satisfaction, collaboration, and social presence. As shown in Appendix D, the resulting bivariate and partial correlations, as well as coefficients of Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication determination, will be presented. To evaluate statistical significance, a standard level of p < .05 will be used. Qualitative Data Collection and Analysis – Text-chat Content Analysis The purpose of the qualitative text-chat data collection and analysis is to examine the nature of the learners’ conversation within the parallel text-chat. What are the learners saying to 9 each other? What are their patterns of communication? In what respect is the conversation on- or off-task with the conversation in the main audio and video channel? What are the indicators of social presence within the dialogue? While a range of content analysis methods have been used to measure social presence within asynchronous CMC, present a content analysis categorization for examining social presence from the transcripts of an asynchronous computer-mediated environment which has been used in several subsequent studies (Rourke & Anderson, 2004). Based on defined categories and indicators of social presence, including (a) emotional expression seen in affective responses, (b) open communication seen in interactive responses, and (c) group cohesion seen in cohesive responses, messages in asynchronous text-based transcripts are assigned to one of the three categories to assess the relative existence of social presence (Rourke et al.). However, Shi, Mishara, Bonk, Tan, & Zhao (2006) argue content analysis methods for asynchronous computermediated communication must be modified to address the nature of synchronous text chat which is characterized by disrupted, fragmented, and often parallel threads of discourse. To conduct a qualitative analysis of the text-chat transcripts, the present study will include both (a) the threaded discourse analysis method suggested by to examine the nature of the threads of conversation and (b) the content analysis categorization forwarded by to examine the nature of individual text-chat posts. For the three synchronous courses incorporating parallel Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication 10 text-chat discussions, the text-chat transcripts for both the third and the final live sessions will be analyzed independently by two researchers using the coding protocols described below. Interrater reliability will be calculated using Holsti’s calculation for percent agreement (Holsti, as cited in . Analysis of threads of conversation. Using the method of analysis recommended by Shi et al. (2006) to address the often non-sequential and non-linear patterns of synchronous text-chat sessions, the individual text-chat posts for the session will be rearranged in chronological order in a best estimate of related conversations creating a series of separate continuous threads of discussion. The threads will be compared on a common timeline which will allow analysis of the parallel nature of the conversation within the text text-chat itself. To protect the anonymity of the participants, student login names will be replaced with a coding indicator. The qualitative analysis will examine (a) the number of threads of communication an individual participated in within the session, (b) the degree to which the individual is participating in simultaneous threads of conversation, and (c) the relative level of interaction of the individual participant within the text-chat communication. In addition, each thread will be categorized based on a judgment by the raters of whether the thread is either (a) on-task or (b) off-task with the subject of the communication in the main instructional channel. Analysis of individual text-chat posts. As an additional level of analysis, separate textchat posts will be analyzed based on evidence of the three social presence indicators forwarded by . Unlike the analysis described above encompassing the entire threaded conversation, the unit of analysis will be each separate text-chat post. Any individual text-chat post displaying either an affective, interactive or cohesive indicator will be coded as such based on the respective social presence category, as shown in Appendix E. While Rouke et al. used their categorization approach to support a quantitative analysis resulting in a calculation of social presence density Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication within the context of the whole class communication, such a quantitative calculation and comparison to prior findings will not be made here as the analyzed text-chat is a parallel communication channel occurring simultaneously to the main channel audio and video 11 conversation. Instead, the categorization of individual text-chat posts in this study will aid in the qualitative analysis. By extracting text-chat post where indicators of social presence are suggested, the nature of the conversation and displays of social presence can be explored. Preparation and Dissemination of Results Both survey and text-chat transcript data will be collected during the fall 2009 semester and will be analyzed in the three months that follow the end of the semester. Within the final results preparation in early 2010, the findings from the quantitative analysis will be compared to the qualitative text-chat transcript analysis. The details of the research, the suggested findings, and a discussion by the researcher will be released within a paper to be submitted to an academic journal in mid-2010. Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication References Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the Course Online Education in the United States, 2008. Sloan Survey of Online Learning (p. 23). 2008 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, Babson Survey Research Group and the Sloan Consortium. Retrieved March 1, 2009, from http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/pdf/staying_the_course.pdf. Creswell, J. (2009). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd Ed.). Thousand Oaks Calif.: Sage Publications. De Wever, B., Schellens, T., Valcke, M., & Keer, H. V. (2006). Content analysis schemes to analyze transcripts of online asynchronous discussion groups: A review. Computers & Education, 46(1), 6-28. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2005.04.005. 12 Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105. Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. Internet & Higher Education, 10(3), 157-172. doi: Article. Garrison, D. R., & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2005). Facilitating Cognitive Presence in Online Learning: Interaction is Not Enough. American Journal of Distance Education, 19(3), 133. Gunawardena, C. N. (1995). Social Presence Theory and Implications for Interaction and Collaborative Learning in Computer Conferences. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 1(2), 147-166. Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication 13 Gunawardena, C. N., & Zittle, F. J. (1997). Social Presence as a Predictor of Satisfaction within a Computer-Mediated Conferencing Environment. American Journal of Distance Education, 11(3), 8. Park, Y. J., & Bonk, C. J. (2007). Synchronous learning experiences: Distance and residential learners’ perspectives in a blended graduate course. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 6(3), 245-264. Parsad, B., & Lewis, L. (2008). Distance Education at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions: 2006-07. National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved March 1, 2009, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2009044. Rourke, L., & Anderson, T. (2004). Validity in quantitative content analysis. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(1), 5-18. doi: 10.1007/BF02504769. Rourke, L., Anderson, T., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (1999). Assessing Social Presence in Asynchronous Text-Based Computer Conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14(2), 50-71. doi: Article. Schullo, S., Hilbelink, A., Venable, M., & Barron, A. (2007). Selecting a Virtual Classroom System: Elluminate Live vs. Macromedia Breeze (Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional). Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(4). Retrieved March 22, 2009, from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol3no4/hilbelink.htm. Shi, S., & Morrow, B. V. (2006). E-Conferencing for Instruction: What Works? Educause Quarterly, 29(4), 42. Social Presence in Synchronous Computer-mediated Communication Shi, S., Mishara, P., Bonk, C. J., Tan, S., & Zhao, Y. (2006). Thread Theory: A Framework Applied to Content Analysis of Synchronous Computer Mediated Communication Data. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Vol. 3(No. 3). Retrieved August 26, 2008, from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Mar_06/article02.htm. Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The Social Psychology of Communications. London: John Wiley. So, H., & Brush, T. A. (2008). Student Perceptions of Collaborative Learning, Social Presence 14 and Satisfaction in a Blended Learning Environment: Relationships and Critical Factors. Computers & Education, 51(1), 318-336. Tu, C. (2002). The Measurement of Social Presence in an Online Learning Environment. International Journal on E-Learning, 1(2), 34-45. Appendix A Figure A1. Concurrent Triangulation Design 15 Source: (Creswell, 2009) Appendix B Study Timeline 16 Appendix C Sample Questionnaire This sample questionnaire is adapted from the Collaborative Learning, Social Presence, and Satisfaction Questionnaire (So & Brush, 2008). 17 Instructions: This questionnaire is designed to measure your perceptions on the level of collaborative learning, social presence and satisfaction. There is no right or wrong answer for each question. However, it is important for you to respond as accurately as possible by checking the most appropriate response. Section 1: General Information 1. What is your gender? ___ ___ ___ Female Male Not applicable 2. What is your age? ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ Under 18 18-25 26 - 35 36 - 45 Above 45 Not applicable 3. Please estimate your level of computer expertise? ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ No experience Novice Intermediate Expert Not Applicable 4. How many distance courses have you taken at any institution prior to this course? Please circle the number. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 More than 10 Appendix C Section 2: Satisfaction 18 Please read each statement carefully and then indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with the statement. Strongly Disagre e 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Disagre e 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Neutral 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 Agree 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Strongly Agree 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 I was able to learn from our live class discussions I was stimulated to do additional readings or research on topics discussed in our live discussions The live discussions assisted me in understanding other points of view As a result of my experience with this course, I would like to take another distance course in the future This course was a useful learning experience The diversity of topics in this course prompted me to participate in the live discussions I put a great deal of effort to learn the online conferencing system to participate in this course My level of learning that took place in this course was of the highest quality Overall, the learning activities and assignments of this course met my learning expectations Overall, my instructor for this course met my learning expectations Overall, this course met my learning expectations Section 3: Collaboration Strongly Disagre e 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Disagre e 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Neutral 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 Agree 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Strongly Agree 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Collaborative learning experience in the computermediated environment is better than in a face-toface environment I felt part of a learning community I actively exchanged my ideas during the live class sessions I was able to develop new skills and knowledge from other class members I was able to develop problem solving skills through peer collaboration Collaborative learning was effective Collaborative learning in my group was timeconsuming Overall, I am satisfied with my collaborative learning experience in this course Appendix C Section 4. Social Presence 19 Please read each statement carefully and then indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with the statement as it relates to live online conferencing sessions in this class. Strongly Disagre e 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Disagre e 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Neutral 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 Agree 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Strongly Agree 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Computer-mediated discussions are social forms of communication Computer-mediated discussions convey feelings and emotions Computer-mediated discussions can be private and confidential Computer-mediated discussions are personal Computer-mediated discussions are a pleasant way to communicate with others The language people use to express themselves in online communication is stimulating It is easy to express what I want to communicate through computer-mediated discussions during class The language used to express oneself in online communication is easily understood I am comfortable participating, even when I am not familiar with the topics The online conferencing system is technically reliable Computer-mediated discussions allows relationship to be established based upon sharing and exchanging of information Computer-mediated discussions allows me to build more caring social relationships with others It is unlikely that someone might obtain personal information about me from the computer-mediated discussion Where I access the online conference (home, office, computer lab, public areas) does not affect my desire to participate. Where I access the online conference (home, office, computer lab, public areas) affects my ability to participate. Computer-mediated discussions permit the building of trust relationships The amounts of discussion in class does not inhibit my ability to communicate Appendix C 20 Appendix D 21 Results Presentation Variables Collaboration Social Presence Age Computer Competency Type of Synchronous Discussion Number of Distance Courses Satisfaction .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 Collaboration -.00 .00 .00 .00 .00 Social Presence --.00 .00 .00 .00 Appendix E Categories for Assessment of Social Presence Affective Expression of emotions Use of humor Interactive Continuing a thread Quoting from others’ messages 22 Cohesive Vocatives: Addressing to participants by name Addresses or refers to the group using inclusive pronouns Social greetings, salutations Self-disclosure Referring explicitly to others’ messages Asking questions Complimenting, expressing, appreciation Expressing agreement