Student Predisposition to Instructor Feedback and Perceptions of Teaching Presence Predict Motivation Toward Online Courses

Andrew William Cole, Christopher Anderson, Thomas Bunton, Maura R. Cherney, Valerie Cronin Fisher, Richard Draeger, Jr., Michelle Featherston, Laura Motel, Kristine M. Nicolini, Brittnie Peck, Mike Allen


As debates over the value and effectiveness of online courses continue, more research is needed to assist in identifying predictors of positive student outcomes in online courses. Building from previous research in Feedback Intervention Theory (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996) and the Community of Inquiry framework (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001; Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 1999), this study sought to identify predictors of student motivation toward online courses. Results from a hierarchical multiple regression, using data from 170 online undergraduate students, suggest that student predisposition to receiving instructor feedback and student perceptions of teaching presence provide strong prediction of student motivation toward online courses.


Feedback; teaching presence; student motivation; online courses; instructor-student communication

Full Text:



Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2015, February). Grade level: Tracking online education in the United States. Retrieved from

Author. (2002).

Author. (2004).

Author. (2006).

Author. (2015a).

Author. (2015b).

Author. (2016).

Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5(2), 1-17.

Bolkan, S., Goodboy, A. K., & Kelsey, D. M. (2016). Instructor clarity and student motivation: Academic performance as a product of students’ ability and motivation to process instructional material. Communication Education, 65, 129-148. doi: 10.1080/03634523.2015.1079329

Bolliger, D. U., & Wasilik, O. (2009). Factors influencing faculty satisfaction with online teaching and learning in higher education. Distance Education, 30, 103-116. doi: 10.1080/01587910902845949

Brophy, J. (1983). Conceptualizing student motivation. Educational Psychologist, 18, 200-215. doi: 10.1080/00461528309529274

Christophel, D. M. (1990). The relationships among teacher immediacy behaviors, student motivation, and learning. Communication Education, 39, 323-340. doi: 10.1080/03634529009378813

Christophel, D. M., & Gorham, J. (1995). A test-retest analysis of student motivation, teacher immediacy, and perceived sources of motivation and demotivation in college classes. Communication Education, 44, 292-306. doi: 10.1080/03634529509379020

Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155-159. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.155

Dennen, V. P. (2005). From message posting to learning dialogues: Factors affecting learner participation in asynchronous discussion. Distance Education, 26, 127-148. doi: 10.1080/01587910500081376

Easton, S. S. (2003). Clarifying the instructor’s role in online distance learning. Communication Education, 52, 87-105. doi: 10.1080/03634520302470

Frisby, B., N., Limperos, A. M., Record, R. A., Downs, E., & Kerscmar, S. E. (2013). Students’ perceptions of social presence: Rhetorical and relational goals across three mediated instructional designs. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9, 468-480.

Frymier, A. B., & Houser, M. L. (2000). The teacher-student relationship as an interpersonal relationship. Communication Education, 49, 207-219. doi: 10.1080/03634520009379209

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2, 87-105. doi: 10.1016/s1096-7516(00)00016-6

Garrison, D. R., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Fung, T. S. (2010). Exploring causal relationships among teaching, cognitive and social presence: Student perceptions of the community of inquiry framework. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 31-36. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.10.002

Haleta, L. L. (1996). Student perceptions of teachers’ use of language: The effects of powerful and powerless language on impression formation and uncertainty. Communication Education, 45, 16-28. doi: 10.1080/03634529609379029

Hazel, M., Crandall, H. M., & Caputo, J. S. (2014). The influence of instructor social presence and student academic entitlement on teacher misbehaviors in online courses. Southern Communication Journal, 79, 311-326. doi: 10.1080/1041794X.2014.914563

Hosler, K. A., & Arend, B. D. (2012). The importance of course design, feedback, and facilitation: Student perceptions of the relationship between teaching presence and cognitive presence. Educational Media International, 49, 217-229. doi: 10.1080/09523987.2012.738014

Hunter, J. E. (1973). Methods of reordering the correlation matrix to facilitate visual inspection and preliminary cluster analysis. Journal of Educational Measurement, 10, 51-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-3984.1973.tb00782.x

Hunter, J. E., & Cohen, S. H. (1969). PACKAGE: A system of computer routines for the analysis of correlational data. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 29, 697-700. doi: 10.1177/001316446902900315

Kerssen-Griep, J., & Witt, P. L. (2012). Instructional feedback II: How do instructor immediacy cues and facework tactics interact to predict student motivation and fairness perceptions? Communication Studies, 63, 498-517. doi: 10.1080/10510974.2011.632660

King, P. E. (2016). When do students benefit from performance feedback? A test of feedback intervention theory in speaking improvement. Communication Quarterly, 64, 1-15. doi: 10.1080/01463373.2015.1078827

King, P. E., Schrodt, P., & Weisel, J. J. (2009). The instructional feedback orientation scale: Conceptualizing and validating a new measure for assessing perceptions of instructional feedback. Communication Education, 58, 235-261. doi: 10.1080/03634520802515705

Kluger, A. N., & DeNisi, A. (1996). The effects of feedback interventions on performance: A historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 254-284. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.119.2.254

Levine, T. R., & McCroskey, J. C. (1990). Measuring trait communication apprehension: A test of rival measurement models of the PRCA-24. Communication Monographs, 57, 62-72. doi: 10.1080/03637759009376185

Malachowski, C. C., Martin, M. M., & Vallade, J. I. (2013). An examination of students’ adaptation, aggression, and apprehension traits with their instructional feedback orientations. Communication Education, 62, 127-147. doi: 10.1080/03634523.2012.748208

Mandernach, B. J., Gonzales, R. M., & Garrett, A. L. (2006). An examination of online instructor presence via threaded discussion participation. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 4, 248-260.

Martin, M. M., Chesebro, J. L., & Mottet, T. P. (1997). Students’ perceptions of instructors’ socio-communicative style and the influence on instructor credibility and situational motivation. Communication Research Reports, 14, 431-440. doi: 10.1080/08824099709388686

Morreale, S., Staley, C., Stavrositu, C., & Krakowiak, M. (2015). First-year college students’ attitudes toward communication technologies and their perceptions of communication competence in the 21st century. Communication Education, 64, 107-131. doi: 10.1080/03634523.2014.978799

Nunnally, J.C., & Bernstein, I. H. (1994). Psychometric theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Otter, R. R., Seipel, S. Graeff, T., Alexander, B., Boraiko, C., Gray, J., Petersen, & Sadler, K. (2013). Comparing student and faculty perceptions of online and traditional courses. Internet and Higher Education, 19, 27-35. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2013.08.001

Plax, T. G., Kearney, P., McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P. (1986). Power in the classroom VI: Verbal control strategies, nonverbal immediacy and affective learning. Communication Education, 35, 43-55. doi: 10.1080/03634528609388318

Poulos, A., & Mahony, M. J. (2008). Effectiveness of feedback: The students’ perspective. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33, 143-154. doi: 10.1080/02602930601127869

Pratt, L., Wiseman, R. L., Cody, M. J., & Wendt, P. F. (1999). Interrogative strategies and information exchange in computer-mediated communication. Communication Quarterly, 47, 46-66. doi: /10.1080/01463379909370123

Reddy, D. M., Pfeiffer, H. M., Fleming, R., Ports, K. A., Pedrick, L. E., Barnack-Tavlaris, J. L., Jirovec, D. L., Helion, A. M., & Swain, R. A. (2013). “U-Pace” instruction: Improving student success by integrating content mastery and amplified assistance. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17, 147-154.

Robinson, S., Pope, D., & Holyoak, L. (2013). Can we meet their expectations? Experiences and perceptions of feedback in first year undergraduate students. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38, 260-272. doi: 10.1080/02602938.2011.629291

Shea, P., Li, C. S., & Pickett, A. (2006). A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses. Internet and Higher Education, 9, 175-190. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2006.06.005

Sherblom, J. C. (2010). The computer-mediated communication (CMC) classroom: A challenge of medium, presence, interaction, identity, and relationship. Communication Education, 59, 497-523. doi: 10.1080/03634523.2010.486440

Sheridan, K., & Kelly, M. A. (2010). The indicators of instructor presence that are important to students in online courses. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6, 767-779.

Smith, C. D., & King, P. E. (2004). Student feedback sensitivity and the efficacy of feedback interventions in public speaking performance improvement. Communication Education, 53, 203-216. doi: 10.1080/0363452042000265152

Thompson, P. (2013). The digital natives as learners: Technology use patterns and approaches to learning. Computers & Education, 65, 12-33. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2012.12.022

Trees, A. R., Kerssen-Griep, J., & Hess, J. (2009). Earning influence by communicating respect: Facework’s contributions to effective instructional feedback. Communication Education, 58, 397-416. doi: 10.1080/03634520802613419

U.S. Department of Education. (2014). Enrollment in distance education courses, by state: Fall 2012 (NCES 2014-023). National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton, AB: AU Press, Athabasca University.