Research into Online Learning Theory

After the research I’ve done the past week, I have enough articles about interaction and active learning to feel like I can support those aspects of my theory of online learning well. I will need to do a bit more research into constructivist learning in the online environment to feel I’ve covered that topic adequately, as well as look up a couple articles I’m missing from the perspective of social learning.

In terms of my own personal research interests, after reading the article this week by Kang and Im (2013), I wonder whether their findings about social interactions factoring negatively into student’s perceived learning achievement would hold true in the US. Our society is very social in nature and places a high value on social learning. I think the authors’ conclusion that this may have been a cultural finding related to the social values of Korean students may have been an accurate observation. I would like to try a replication study of their study here in the US to see if the same factors proved to be of importance in the same order. I think we would find that students here place higher emphasis on the social connections to learning than their interactions with the content.

Secondly, the Kang and Im (2013) study was based on perceived learning outcomes. I would be curious as to how the students’ perceptions compared to reality. I would love to do a correlation study between students’ perceived thoughts about how these factors impacted their learning outcomes and their actual measured achievement of the learning outcomes. It would be interesting to see if the students who rated their perceptions of learning most highly were also the highest performing students on the assessments.

I have just finished collecting data for a study on how an instructor’s interactions with students in the threaded discussions affected students’ perceptions of instructor presence in the online classroom. We used Garrison, Anderson, and Archer’s (2010) Community of Inquiry (CoI) model for this research and the CoI Survey (Arbaugh et al., 2008). This survey model showed good validation for measuring social, content, and instructor presence in an exploratory factor analysis we did with a pilot group of students the prior semester, but the three-factor model did not focus clearly on instructor presence the way I would have liked. The Kang and Im (2013) article opened my eyes to another instrument which might have been more effective at measuring instructor presence in this experiment and may have provided more accurate results. If the instructor I am working with wishes to continue this study after this semester, we may attempt to try a different instrument or to develop and validate one of our own based on a combination of these two instruments.


Arbaugh, B., Cleveland-Innes, M., Diaz, S., Garrison, D. R., Ice, P., Richardson, J., … Swan, K. (2008). Developing a community of inquiry instrument: Testing a measure of the Community of Inquiry framework using a multi-institutional sample. The Internet and Higher Education, 11(3-4), 133–136. Retrieved from

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2010). The first decade of the Community of Inquiry framework: A retrospective. The Internet and Higher Education, 13, 5–9. Retrieved from

Kang, M., & Im, T. (2013). Factors of learner-instructor interaction which predict perceived learning outcomes in online learning environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(3), 292–301. doi:10.1111/jcal.12005

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