Summer 2021



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Andreas Schramm

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Grant Felton

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Mary Schuster


Social presence theory is “the degree to which a person is perceived as a real person in mediated communication” (Gunawardena, 1995). Enhancing student’s perception of social presence increases instructional effectiveness and learning in an online learning environment. To increase perceived social presence, teachers must use techniques and interaction skills to build an online classroom community. There is not a lot of research on social presence theory in K-12 online learning environments so the purpose of this study was to find tools and strategies that create a strong online learning environments and to find if there is a relation between social presence and academic achievement. The research questions being addressed are: How can K-12 teachers create a synchronous online environment where students have a social presence in the classroom? Did social presence in an online learning environment result in higher academic achievement? 78 teachers filled out a questionnaire in google forms measuring perceived social presence in the classroom and perceived learning. There were four open ended questions at the end where teachers answered questions about the highlights, lowlights, tools, and strategies in how the teachers created an online learning environment with a strong social presence in the classroom. It was found that there is a slight correlation between the perceived social presence and perceived learning questions. The more a teacher agreed that there is a social presence in their classroom, the more likely they would agree that students are learning and progressing academically in online settings. Also, the more a teacher disagreed that there is social presence in their online classroom, the more likely they would disagree that students are learning nor progressing academically. The open-ended questions found many tools and strategies to create a strong learning community that teachers can use for the following years.

Research Methodology

Descriptive Statistics, Survey (attitude scale, opinion, questionnaire)


Achievement, Community Building, Grades/ Student Performance, Teachers/ Teaching








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