Exploring Business Students’ Communicative Needs

Social Presence in Effective Online Instruction


  • Scott Christen Tennessee Technological University
  • Stephanie Kelly North Carolina A&T State University
  • Lisa Fall University of Tennessee
  • Lisa Gueldenzoph Snyder North Carolina A&T State University


Business Student Communication, Social Presence, Online learning, Community of Inquiry


Problem: The trend of offering business courses online is increasing yearly. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important for online instructors to understand how to convey a strong social presence to their students.

Research Questions: What communicative behaviors do business students perceive make an instructor more socially present? What differences exist among demographic variables in students’ perceptions of instructor behaviors related to social presence?

Data Collection Procedures: Data were collected by administering a qualitative survey to business students who were asked to identify behaviors that their instructors display in the online classroom that enhanced their perceptions of instructors’ social presence. First, thematic analysis was used to identify recurring themes in students’ qualitative responses. The themes that emerged were then used as a coding scheme for a content analysis of the data. Logistic regression was utilized to determine if the indicators of social presence differed based on gender and college status.

Findings: Findings indicated that females rely more on interactive and cohesive messages than males, and undergraduates prefer computer-mediated instructional immediacy more than graduate students.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Online educators should use affective, interactive, and cohesive communication; provide a visual reference of themselves to students; and use computer-mediated immediacy cues.


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How to Cite

Christen, S., Kelly, S., Fall, L., & Gueldenzoph Snyder, L. (2015). Exploring Business Students’ Communicative Needs: Social Presence in Effective Online Instruction. Journal of Research In Business Education, 57(1), 31-46. https://jrbe.nbea.org/index.php/jrbe/article/view/49

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