Improving Online Instructor Presence and Student Engagement: An Online Professional Development Intervention
The purpose of the project was to explore the extent to which an asynchronous online professional development (PD) model focusing on instructor presence would improve feedback and interactions with students. The study is grounded in Community of Inquiry theory, which situates learning at the intersection of teaching presence, social presence and cognitive presence. The study aimed to improve student success by empowering instructors to integrate engaging strategies and technology tools into fully online courses. The participants were 4 higher education instructors teaching in fully online degree programs delivered to 160-200 undergraduate students. For eight weeks the 4 instructors participated in the PD. The goals of the PD were to learn strategies for improving instructor presence and integrating student engagement opportunities in a collaborative online format. Data was collected from pre- and post-intervention offerings of the instructors’ courses to determine the impact of participation in the PD. Results suggest that the PD model was an effective intervention to increase presence and engagement. Presence and engagement were found to have increased in participants’ courses. Interactive video was found to serve multiple purposes including increasing instructor presence and student engagement, facilitating feedback between instructors and students, and elevating the level of cognitive presence of students. As a result, instructors and students both indicated a perception of improved interactions and feedback.