Michelle Rosser-Majors, Ph.D., Program Chair, Ashford University;
Sandra Rebeor, Psy.D., Associate Professor, Ashford University;
Christine McMahon, D.H.Ed., Program Chair and Associate Professor, Ashford University; and
Stephanie Anderson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Ashford University.
The concept of instructor presence, as applied to the online classroom, has not been widely researched or formally modeled. A group of faculty at Ashford University took on the task of pursuing what this “looked like” online, based on the community of inquiry framework (Garrison, Anderson, &Archer, 2000). Beginning in 2016, a team of full time faculty began developing content for, and designing a series of, modules. Each module introduced online instructors to the differing areas of presence (cognitive, teaching, and social) that are suggested to improve not only student retention, satisfaction, and success, but also instructor satisfaction. Each module also included numerous specific examples about each of these areas that could be immediately applied and the importance of having all three in one’s classroom, being cautious to not focus on only one or two. The series was then launched to faculty in the College of Health, Human Services, and Science. Based on the initial analysis, findings supported all of the previously mentioned areas: retention, success, and satisfaction. Specifically, in courses where instructors had completed the modules, retention and student success improved. Qualitative data of student end-of-course evaluations suggested increased satisfaction following implementation, and instructors who completed the series indicated increased satisfaction as well, due to enhanced student engagement. In 2019, the success of these modules caught the attention of key development leaders within the institution and an “Instructor Presence Certification” series was launched to the entire institution. In addition, the content team has launched a website to globally support instructors and institutions in applying these strategies online: https://www.instructorpresence.com/