Emotional Presence in Building an Online Learning Community Among Non-traditional Graduate Students

Mei Jiang, Katie Koo


The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework posits that a collaborative online teaching and learning process can be achieved through three interdependent dimensions of presence: cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence. Emotion is considered an important factor in successful online learning. This study explored non-traditional graduate students’ perceived emotional presence that emerged in participants’ online learning experiences. Based on quantitative and qualitative data from 45 non-traditional graduate students in the field of education, the study showed that participants demonstrated both positive emotional expressions (e.g., enjoyment and happiness) and negative expressions (e.g., frustration and disappointment) in their responses. Emotional presence ratings were found be significantly lower than cognitive, teaching, and social presence ratings. Emotions serving different functions were also identified in responses. Direct affectiveness surfaced where participants showed a strong emotional need to make connections with instructors and peers. Outcome emotions were also identified where participants showed emotional responses in regard to their eventual learning outcome. We also found emotional presence by itself a significant predictor of non-traditional graduate students’ satisfaction with online learning. Implications for research and practice are discussed.


online learning, Community of Inquiry, emotional presence, non-traditional graduate students

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v24i4.2307

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