Political Science Education and the Profession

Is Anybody There? Exploring the Role of Social Presence in an Online Political Science Research Methods Class

Delton Daigle George Mason University
Aaron Stuvland George Mason University
Social presence, or the “being there” and “being real” presence of others in an online learning environment, is widely considered to have a positive impact on student motivation and participation, actual and perceived learning, course and instructor satisfaction, and retention in online courses (Richardson et al. 2017; Oh et al. 2018). Several aspects of social presence remain understudied however, such as how gender, class rank, and other demographical characteristics may influence perceptions of social presence and condition the relationship between perceptions of social presence and academic performance or course satisfaction. Furthermore, although studies of the impact of social presence abound, few studies examine the impact of perceptions of social presence on academic performance and course satisfaction across modalities – sections of online and face-to-face classes.