Seeing is believing: The impact of asynchronous video on student engagement and instructor social presence in online learning.

Concurrent Session 9

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Research findings indicate a lack of empirical data to support the use of asynchronous video as a means for increasing student engagement and improving instructor social presence in an online class. 


I am an occupational therapist by trade and a faculty member for health science programs, teaching primarily online or hybrid courses for post-secondary students. I enjoy online curriculum design, mentoring faculty new to online learning, and investigating new technology for improving the student education experience. I am interested in the integration of online learning and educational technology to more 'hands on' fields such as the health sciences.

Additional Authors

Dr. Shannon Groff is a contributing faculty member for the University of St. Augustine Online programs as well as the advisor for current and prospective EdD learners. She currently teaches in the the Post-Professional programs as well as in the EdD doctoral program. Prior to joining the USA, Dr. Groff continues to teach full-time for Florida State College at Jacksonville. Dr. Groff has worked in higher education for over thirteen years of which she has experience in educational theory, course development and design, e-learning, quality assurance, student engagement, curriculum design, faculty training and development, and commitment to success. Dr. Groff adheres to a belief in education that the key to successful motivation of learners is in building relationships while embracing educational theories in order to create positive learning environments. She holds a MAE from the University of North Florida where she specialized in English and a PhD from Northcentral University where she focused on Educational Technology and e-Learning. The focus of Dr. Groff’s research was to examine how audio feedback and innovation in online education generates motivation in adult learners and how that motivation along with technological advances accessible in education relates to success and retention in higher education. Dr. Groff completed her doctoral work utilizing the community of inquiry theory as her theoretical framework, and the effects of teacher presence in online courses through meaningful feedback, as a mechanism to increase student motivation and success. Dr. Groff enjoys presenting at local, state, and national conferences, participating in workshops, and interprofessional collaborative summit meetings. She is currently residing on a FLDOE state committee for the redesign of courses in the field of education. Prior to focusing on education, Dr. Groff was a Psychology major intending to work with children, upon further deliberation, Dr. Groff discovered working in education would enable her to achieve two goals: working with a specific population helping them achieve success. Dr. Groff now focuses on online learning and ways in which to make it more engaging and exciting for members in the healthcare fields who one day would like to either transition from clinician to educator, or wear both hats as many do.

Extended Abstract

Online education has steadily increased in popularity over the last decade as technology has become more available, and the need for flexible learning environments has grown (Allen & Seaman, 2014). However, the inherent transactional distance created by the asynchronous nature of online learning has been challenging to overcome. Notably, student engagement has continued to persist as a puzzling factor in online learning (Trowler & Trowler, 2010). One method shown in the literature to increase student engagement is the development of a community, by building social presence (Swan & Shih, 2005). Social presence has been typically researched from a student-student interaction point of view. However, the theme of instructor social presence (ISP) has developed in the literature to refer to the intersection between teaching presence and social presence, or the 'live' part of courses where instructors engage in the delivery of content and interaction with students (Richardson et al., 2015). Studies have shown that students value being able to see their instructors as caring, 'real' individuals, who respond to their needs (Wise, Chang, Duffy, & del Valle, 2004). One method for conveying ISP may be through the use of asynchronous video, where the students can see their instructor and perceive the immediacy behaviors typical of a face-to-face classroom.

Previous studies have examined asynchronous video and engagement, and asynchronous video and instructor social presence, but no study has examined them as interrelated variables that may be important to understand simultaneously (Borup, Jered, West & Graham, 2013; Draus, Curran, & Trempus, 2014). Many studies have assumed a connection between: the use of asynchronous video, the role of the instructor, and student engagement, though this direct connection has never been investigated (Glazier, 2016; Moore, 2014). A substantial amount of evidence supports the important role of the instructor in promoting student engagement through developing a sense of community and establishing communication between instructors and students, though the methods of communication to foster the instructor student relationship has been less emphasized, and the existing research is primarily qualitative in nature (Byrd, 2016; Glazier, 2016). Asynchronous video may be an effective way to establish instructor social presence and develop student engagement in the online classroom but additional study was needed to support the assumptions of previous researchers.

The problem this study addressed is the challenge of using educational technology to improve student engagement in an online course, and the effects of educational technology on the development of instructor social presence in the online learning environment. This investigation is important because of the strong link between student engagement and student outcomes including retention, performance, and satisfaction (Dixson, 2015; Tinto, 1997).

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of asynchronous video, compared to text based communication, on student perceptions of instructor social presence and student engagement. This study was unique because it focused on both variables simultaneously, was conducted in a fully online course, and used quantitative data collection. Additionally, the use of voluntary discussion posts provided a unique way to examine the variable of student engagement.


This study had two research questions:

Q1: Does instructor use of asynchronous video change students’ perceptions of instructor social presence in an online occupational therapy course?

Q2: Does instructor use of asynchronous video change student engagement in an online occupational therapy course?


A non-equivalent, post-test, quasi experimental design was used to evaluate the use of instructor generated asynchronous video announcements versus text-based announcements in two sections of a fully online graduate course. Twice weekly announcements were sent through the learning management system to all students. The same format, specifically designed to convey teaching and social presence, was followed for all announcements in both sections. A total of 22 students participated in the study.

Student participation in voluntary discussion boards was used to measure changes in student engagement. A count of the number of student posts, and total character counts were used to measure engagement over a six-week period in the middle of the course. The use of voluntary discussion posts allowed the researcher to study the affective, cognitive, and behavioral manifestations of engagement, which is unique to this study. Student perceptions of instructor social presence were determined using a Likert scale survey given at the end of the course.

A MANOVA analysis was conducted on the data using SPSS. Due to violations of the assumptions of a MANOVA statistical analysis, a non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis test was conducted to support the results of the MANOVA test.


Findings indicated that there was no difference between the two groups based on student perceptions of instructor social presence (p= .136). Results did suggest that there was a difference in student engagement based on the type of communication according to number of student posts (p= .003), and length of student posts (p= .012). Students who received text-based communication (M= 4.33) were significantly more engaged than students who received asynchronous video communication (M= .462) based on number of posts. Students who received text-based communication (M= 2661.33) were significantly more engaged than students who received asynchronous video communication (M= 421.92) based on length of posts.

Additionally, a Spearman’s Rho correlation analysis was conducted on the individual instructor social presence survey items. Results indicated a significant difference based on the type of communication for one of the ten Likert survey items, “my instructor creates an attitude of sharing”. Comparison of group mean scores for this item indicated that the text-based group felt the instructor created an attitude of sharing more than the asynchronous video group.


The current research findings do not support previous qualitative research which indicates that asynchronous video is more effective than text-based communication for increasing instructor social presence and student engagement in an online course. In fact, the use of text-based communication proved more effective at increasing student engagement.


Based on the results of this study, additional research is needed to determine what impact the use of asynchronous video has on student outcomes and why there is a discrepancy between what students say about the use of asynchronous video and how they actually perform in an online class.

The need to understand the intricate nature of online learning communities, and the ways to intervene to improve student outcomes in online learning is essential to developing improved online pedagogy. The use of asynchronous video as an educational tool to improve student engagement in online learning requires quantitative investigation. This study aimed to close the gap in current literature by providing data to describe the impact of asynchronous video on the development of instructor social presence and the influence on student engagement. Further, the results of this study are useful for online educators when determining the best practices to use in online teaching that focus on improving student outcomes and developing a sense of community.


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Swan, K., & Shih, L. F. (2005). On the nature and development of social presece in online discussions. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 9(3), 115–136. Retrieved from and Shih2005.pdf

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