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Cognitive, Instructional, and Social Presence as Factors in Learners’ Negotiation of Planned Absences from Online Study

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Author(s): Dianne Conrad

Journal: International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning
ISSN 1492-3831

Volume: 10;
Issue: 3;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: Online learning | pedagogy | social presence | cognitive presence

ABSTRACT
Adult learners value the flexibility and convenience offered to them as online learners, and many learners are required to absent themselves from their online classes during courses in order to accommodate demanding schedules. What factors and tensions contribute to learners’ decision-making at these times? This qualitative study considered the planned absences of learners engaged in an online graduate course at a large university. Working within the framework provided by cognitive, instructional, and social presences, findings showed the following: (1) learners understood and accommodated the relationship and importance of the affective domain to their cognitive successes in learning, (2) successful learners demonstrated insightful self-knowledge in using metacognitive strategies, and (3) learners’ external support systems were fundamental to their ability to continue to learn when absences occurred. The study’s findings corroborate other recent research that similarly stresses the complexity and interrelated nature of the adult learning process.
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