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

  • Dianne Conrad Athabasca University
Keywords: online learning, pedagogy, social presence, cognitive presence


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 meta-cognitive 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.

Author Biography

Dianne Conrad, Athabasca University
Director, Centre for Learning Accreditation
How to Cite
Conrad, D. (2009). Cognitive, Instructional, and Social Presence as Factors in Learners’ Negotiation of Planned Absences from Online Study. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(3).
Research Articles