Social presence in online discussion groups: Testing three conceptions and their relations to perceived learning

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The correlation between three conceptions of social presence (seen as 1. a subjective quality of a medium that determines the quality of the communication and perception of others, 2. self-projection onto the group, and 3. identification with the group) and different aspects of perceived learning in online discussion groups were tested. Six hundreds and fifty nine students completed a web-based questionnaire that was distributed via 50 course Websites. Self projection, perception of others and identification with the group correlated positively with each other. They also correlated positively with most aspects of perceived learning. The subjective quality of the medium did not correlate with these conceptions and also did not correlate with any aspects of perceived learning. Thus, social presence may afford learning by setting a convenient climate. Alternatively, it may contribute only to the socioemotional source of perceived learning while leaving cognitive source unaffected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-346
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (OBES), Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences (CSGB), Department of Energy (DOE) (J.Y., V.K.Y.), by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants GM055302 (V.K.Y.), GM110501 (J.Y.) GM126289 (J.K.), GM117126 (N.K.S.), GM124149 and GM124169 (J.M.H.), the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (GM116423-02, F.D.F.), and Human Frontiers Science Project RGP0063/2013 (J.Y., U.B., A.Z.). We acknowledge the DFG-Cluster of Excellence “UniCat” coordinated by T.U. Berlin and Sfb1078, TP A5 (A.Z., H.D.); the Artificial Leaf Project (K&A Wallenberg Foundation 2011.0055) and Vetenskapsrådet (2016-05183) (J.M.); Diamond Light Source, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (grant 102593) and a Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust (A.M.O.). This research used NERSC, supported by DOE, under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. Synchrotron facilities at the ALS, Berkeley and SSRL, Stanford, were funded by DOE OBES. The SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program is supported by the DOE OBER, and NIH (P41GM103393). LCLS and SSRL, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, are supported by DOE, OBES under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515. We thank the staff at LCLS/SLAC and SSRL (BL 6-2, 7-3) and ALS (BL 5.01, 5.0.2, 8.2.1, 8.3.1).


  • Group identification
  • Online discussion group
  • Perceived learning
  • Self projection
  • Social presence


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