Instructor’s Use of Social Presence, Teaching Presence, and Attitudinal Dissonance: A Case Study of an Attitudinal Change MOOC


  • Sunnie Lee Watson Purdue University, Assistant Professor
  • William R Watson Purdue University, Associate Professor.
  • Jennifer Richardson Purdue University, Associate Professor.
  • Jamie Loizzo University of Nebraska Lincoln, Assistant Professor



social presence, teaching presence, attitude change, MOOC


This study examines a MOOC instructor’s use of social presence, teaching presence, and dissonance for attitudinal change in a MOOC on Human Trafficking, designed to promote attitudinal change. Researchers explored the MOOC instructor’s use of social presence and teaching presence, using the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework as a lens, and examined the facilitation of attitudinal dissonance within the discussion forum, announcements and blog postings in the course. The instructor entered the MOOC with the idea of serving as a co-participant and a facilitation choice was made to address the issue of multiple perspectives and experiences. The instructional design focused on establishing a collaborative community of learners and this was demonstrated through a high number of social presence indicators but with significant use of all three areas in evidence. Findings present a detailed examination of instructor strategies in a MOOC designed to focus on the establishment of a collaborative learning community and can inform future instructional design and instruction of MOOCs in general and MOOCs for attitudinal change specifically.

Author Biographies

Sunnie Lee Watson, Purdue University, Assistant Professor

Dr. Sunnie Lee Watson teaches and conducts scholarly work in the field of information age, learner-centered education. Her areas of research focus on attitude change instruction, information-age educational technology such as MOOCs and PIES, and Critical Systems Theory for qualitative educational research and school change.

William R Watson, Purdue University, Associate Professor.

Professor Bill Watson's research interest focuses on the critical, systemic change of education to realize a learner-centered paradigm, including the application of technology such as video games, virtual environments, and learning management software in order to create customized and personalized learning environments.

Jennifer Richardson, Purdue University, Associate Professor.

Dr. Richardson's research focuses on distance education, in particular online learning environments. Specific areas of research and practice related to online learning include social aspects of online learning, the Community of Inquiry (CoI), best practices in distance learning, and gauging learning in online environments. Dr. Richardson is also interested in the integration of technology to improve learning at the K-12 and higher education levels.

Jamie Loizzo, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Assistant Professor

Dr. Jamie Loizzo is an Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Science Communication.  Her Ph.D. and M.S.Ed are in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University.  Jamie also has a B.A. in Radio-Television (News) from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.  She has worked in television newsrooms in Illinois, Kentucky, and Florida. Jamie has experience developing educational videos for a variety of agricultural audiences and has served as project manager for a nationwide interactive electronic field trip program introducing middle school students to real-world science concepts and science careers.  She is interested in developing courses and Nebraska Extension programming for informal science communication and education programs about controversial agricultural and environmental issues.

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How to Cite

Watson, S. L., Watson, W. R., Richardson, J., & Loizzo, J. (2016). Instructor’s Use of Social Presence, Teaching Presence, and Attitudinal Dissonance: A Case Study of an Attitudinal Change MOOC. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(3).



Research Articles