Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2012


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology (EdDIT)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Mary F. Grasinger

Committee Member

Robert Furman

Committee Member

Rodney Hopson

Committee Member

David D. Carbonara


Cyber schools, Social presence, Social skill, Virtual education


This research investigated the perception of social presence that students in a virtual high school have of using computer-mediated communication (CMC): email, discussion board, tutoring sessions, and asynchronous classroom activities. The research analyzed data for social presence based on gender, years of experience in a cyber school, and self-proficiency ratings on each form of CMC. The purpose of this study was to identify if high school students in a virtual community perceive email, discussion board, tutoring sessions and asynchronous classroom activities as enhancing their social presence within the virtual community. The findings of the study are:

1. Students perceived that email showed more social presence than the other forms of CMC and asynchronous classroom activities showed more social presence than discussion board and tutoring sessions.

2. There was no significant difference found between male and females social presence in any of the CMC studied.

3. Students who rate their own self proficiency as being above average or expert had higher social presence scores on email and asynchronous classroom activities than students who rate their proficiency average, below average or novice.

4. Students perceived that email showed more social interaction than discussion board, tutoring session and asynchronous classroom activities. Asynchronous classroom activities showed more social interaction than discussion board or tutoring sessions.

5. The number of years a student attends a cyber school has no relationship with the student's perceived social presence in any form of CMC studied.

Understanding students' perception of social presence based on the use of CMC will enable cyber schools to use the appropriate form of CMC to help students develop their social skills.