Teammate Familiarity in Distributed Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning: The Mediating Role of Social Presence


  • Shunan Zhang Department of Interaction Science & Department of Human-Artificial Intelligence Interaction, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • Dongyan Nan Department of Interaction Science & Department of Human-Artificial Intelligence Interaction at Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • Seungjong Sun Department of Applied Artificial Intelligence, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • ShaoPeng Che School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, China
  • Jang Hyun Kim Department of Interaction Science & Department of Human-Artificial Intelligence Interaction, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea



distributed computer-supported collaborative learning, social presence, teamwork satisfaction, learning outcomes, teammate familiarity


Owing to the limitations of computer-mediated communication (CMC), distributed CSCL (Computer-supported collaborative learning) has not always been as effective as desired. Despite recognizing the significance of group composition, the exploration of the function of teammate familiarity in distributed educational settings is restricted. This study explored the influence of teammate familiarity and social presence in a distributed CSCL setting by conducting an online survey of 288 Korean university students with experience in distributed CSCL. The results indicate that teammate familiarity increased the social presence experienced by students among their peers. Social presence subsequently enhanced teamwork satisfaction and, ultimately, increased self-assessed knowledge gain. More importantly, the relationship between teammate familiarity and teamwork satisfaction was mediated by social presence. Social media platforms and class webpages were the most widely used channels for students to get to know their teammates. Our study provided insights for improving the effectiveness of distributed CSCL and a framework for investigating social presence in satisfaction building in various contexts, including online education.


Adams, S. J., Roch, S. G., & Ayman, R. (2005). Communication medium and member familiarity: The effects on decision time, accuracy, and satisfaction. Small Group Research, 36(3), 321–353.

Al-Samarraie, H., & Saeed, N. (2018). A systematic review of cloud computing tools for collaborative learning: Opportunities and challenges to the blended-learning environment. Computers & Education, 124, 77–91.

Anderson, P., Bergman, B., Bradley, L., Gustafsson, M., & Matzke, A. (2010). Peer reviewing across the Atlantic: Patterns and trends in L1 and L2 comments made in an asynchronous online collaborative learning exchange between technical communication students in Sweden and in the United States. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 24(3), 296–322.

Bacon, D. R., Sauer, P. L., & Young, M. (1995). Composite reliability in structural equations modeling. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 55(3), 394–406.

Baturay, M. H., & Toker, S. (2019). The comparison of trust in virtual and face-to-face collaborative learning teams. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 20(3), 153–164.

Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107(2), 238–246.

Biocca, F., Harms, C., & Burgoon, J. K. (2003). Toward a more robust theory and measure of social presence: Review and suggested criteria. Presence: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments, 12(5), 456–480.

Caceffo, R., Goncalves, D. A., Bonacin, R., dos Reis, J. C., Valente, J. A., & Baranauskas, M. C. C. (2022). Children’s social interactions within a socioenactive scenario . Computers & Education, 176, 18, Article 104324.

Castellá, V. O., Abad, A. Z., Alonso, F. P., & Silla, J. P. (2000). The influence of familiarity among group members, group atmosphere and assertiveness on uninhibited behavior through three different communication media. Computers in Human Behavior, 16(2), 141–159.

Chen, J., Wang, M., Kirschner, P. A., & Tsai, C.-C. (2018). The role of collaboration, computer use, learning environments, and supporting strategies in CSCL: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 88(6), 799–843.

Child, J. T. & Petronio, S. (2011). Unpacking the paradoxes of privacy in CMC relationships: The challenges of blogging and relational communication on the Internet. In K. B. Wright & L. M. Webb (Eds.), Computer-mediated communication in personal relationships (pp. 21–40). Peter Lang.

Dahlstrom-Hakki, I., Alstad, Z., & Banerjee, M. (2020). Comparing synchronous and asynchronous online discussions for students with disabilities: The impact of social presence. Computers & Education, 150, Article 103842.

De Backer, L., Van Keer, H., De Smedt, F., Merchie, E., & Valcke, M. (2022). Identifying regulation profiles during computer-supported collaborative learning and examining their relation with students’ performance, motivation, and self-efficacy for learning. Computers & Education, 179, Article 104421.

Dillenbourg, P. (1999). What do you mean by collaborative learning? In P. Dillenbourg (Ed.), Collaborative-learning: Cognitive and computational approaches (pp. 1–19). Elsevier.

Dillenbourg, P., Järvelä, S., & Fischer, F. (2009). The evolution of research on computer-supported collaborative learning. In N. Balacheff, S. Ludvigsen, T. de Jong, A. Lazonder, & S. Barnes (Eds.), Technology-enhanced learning (pp. 3–19). Springer.

Falcione, S., Campbell, E., McCollum, B., Chamberlain, J., Macias, M., Morsch, L., & Pinder, C. (2019). Emergence of different perspectives of success in collaborative learning. Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 10(2).

Farland, M. Z., Feng, X., Behar-Horenstein, L. S., & Beck, D. E. (2019). Impact of team formation method on student team performance across multiple courses incorporating team-based learning. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 83(6).

Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(1), 39–50.

Friedman, L. W., & Friedman, H. (2013). Using social media technologies to enhance online learning. Journal of Educators Online, 10(1), 1–22.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (1999). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2–3), 87–105.

Goh, C., Leong, C., Kasmin, K., Hii, P., & Tan, O. (2017). Students’ experiences, learning outcomes and satisfaction in e-learning. Journal of E-Learning and Knowledge Society, 13(2).

Gress, C. L., Fior, M., Hadwin, A. F., & Winne, P. H. (2010). Measurement and assessment in computer-supported collaborative learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(5), 806–814.

Gunawardena, C. N., & Zittle, F. J. (1997). Social presence as a predictor of satisfaction within a computer‐mediated conferencing environment. American Journal of Distance Education, 11(3), 8–26.

Harasim, L. M. (1993). Networlds: Networks as social space. In L. M. Harasim (Ed.), Global networks: Computers and international communication (pp. 15–34). MIT Press.

He, J., & Huang, X. (2017). Collaborative online teamwork: Exploring students’ satisfaction and attitudes with Google Hangouts as a supplementary communication tool. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 49(3–4), 149–160.

Hernández-Sellés, N., Muñoz-Carril, P.-C., & González-Sanmamed, M. (2019). Computer-supported collaborative learning: An analysis of the relationship between interaction, emotional support and online collaborative tools. Computers & Education, 138, 1–12.

Hinds, P. J., Carley, K. M., Krackhardt, D., & Wholey, D. (2000). Choosing work group members: Balancing similarity, competence, and familiarity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 81(2), 226–251.

Hostetter, C., & Busch, M. (2006). Measuring up online: The relationship between social presence and student learning satisfaction. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(2), 1–12.

Janssen, J., Erkens, G., Kirschner, P. A., & Kanselaar, G. (2009). Influence of group member familiarity on online collaborative learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(1), 161–170.

Jeong, H., Hmelo-Silver, C. E., & Jo, K. (2019). Ten years of computer-supported collaborative learning: A meta-analysis of CSCL in STEM education during 2005–2014. Educational Research Review, 28, Article 100284.

Kalina, C., & Powell, K. (2009). Cognitive and social constructivism: Developing tools for an effective classroom. Education, 130(2), 241–250.

Khan, K. A., & Rafi, S. (2020). Online education & MOOCs: Teacher self-disclosure in online education and a mediating role of social presence. South Asian Journal of Management, 14(1), 142–158.

Kim, J., & Song, H. (2016). Celebrity’s self-disclosure on Twitter and parasocial relationships: A mediating role of social presence. Computers in Human Behavior, 62, 570–577.

Kim, J., Song, H., & Luo, W. (2016). Broadening the understanding of social presence: Implications and contributions to the mediated communication and online education. Computers in Human Behavior, 65, 672–679.

Kim, K. J., Park, E., & Sundar, S. S. (2013). Caregiving role in human–robot interaction: A study of the mediating effects of perceived benefit and social presence. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1799–1806.

Kline, R. B. (2015). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (5th ed.). Guilford.

Kline, T. J. B. (2005). Psychological testing: A practical approach to design and evaluation. Sage.

Kock, N., & Lynn, G. (2012). Lateral collinearity and misleading results in variance-based SEM: An illustration and recommendations. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 13(7).

Kreijns, K., Kirschner, P. A., & Jochems, W. (2002). The sociability of computer-supported collaborative learning environments. Educational Technology & Society, 5(1), 8–22.

Kreijns, K., Kirschner, P. A., & Jochems, W. (2003). Identifying the pitfalls for social interaction in computer-supported collaborative learning environments: A review of the research. Computers in Human Behavior, 19(3), 335–353.

Ku, H.-Y., Tseng, H. W., & Akarasriworn, C. (2013). Collaboration factors, teamwork satisfaction, and student attitudes toward online collaborative learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 922–929.

Lee, K. M., Jeong, E. J., Park, N., & Ryu, S. (2011). Effects of interactivity in educational games: A mediating role of social presence on learning outcomes. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 27(7), 620–633.

Lo, S.-K. (2008). The nonverbal communication functions of emoticons in computer-mediated communication. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11(5), 595–597.

Lombard, M., & Ditton, T. (1997). At the heart of it all: The concept of presence. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 3(2), Article JCMC321.

Marsh, H. W., Balla, J. R., & McDonald, R. P. (1988). Goodness-of-fit indexes in confirmatory factor analysis: The effect of sample size. Psychological Bulletin, 103(3), 391–410.

Nam, C. W. (2017). The effects of digital storytelling on student achievement, social presence, and attitude in online collaborative learning environments. Interactive Learning Environments, 25(3), 412–427.

Pauwels, K., Demirci, C., Yildirim, G., & Srinivasan, S. (2016). The impact of brand familiarity on online and offline media synergy. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 33(4), 739–753.

Post, M. L., Barrett, A., Williams, M., & Scharff, L. (2020). Impact of team formation method on student performance, attitudes, and behaviors. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 20(1), 1–21.

Roberts, T. S. (2005). Computer-supported collaborative learning in higher education. In T. Roberts (Ed.), Computer-supported collaborative learning in higher education (pp. 1–18). IGI Global.

Rockett, T. L., & Okhuysen, G. A. (2002). Familiarity in groups: Exploring the relationship between inter-member familiarity and group behavior. In H. Sondak (Ed.), Toward phenomenology of groups and group membership (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 4) (pp. 173–201). Emerald Group.

Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. John Wiley & Sons.

So, H.-J., & Brush, T. A. (2008). Student perceptions of collaborative learning, social presence and satisfaction in a blended learning environment: Relationships and critical factors. Computers & Education, 51(1), 318–336.

Song, H., Kim, J., & Lee, K. M. (2014). Virtual vs. real body in exergames: Reducing social physique anxiety in exercise experiences. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 282–285.

Song, H., Kim, J., & Luo, W. (2016). Teacher–student relationship in online classes: A role of teacher self-disclosure. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 436–443.

Song, H., Kim, J., & Park, N. (2019). I know my professor: Teacher self-disclosure in online education and a mediating role of social presence. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 35(6), 448–455.

Steiger, J. H. (2007). Understanding the limitations of global fit assessment in structural equation modeling. Personality and Individual Differences, 42(5), 893–898.

Surani, D., & Hamidah, H. (2020). Students perceptions in online class learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. International Journal on Advanced Science, Education, and Religion, 3(3), 83–95.

Suthers, D. D. (2006). Technology affordances for intersubjective meaning making: A research agenda for CSCL. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 1, 315–337.

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

Tavakol, M., & Dennick, R. (2011). Making sense of Cronbach’s alpha. International Journal of Medical Education, 2, 53–55.

Tseng, H., & Ku, H. (2011). The relationships between trust, performance, satisfaction, and development progressions among virtual teams. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 12(2), 81–94.

Tseng, H., Ku, H.-Y., Wang, C.-H., & Sun, L. (2009). Key factors in online collaboration and their relationship to teamwork satisfaction. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 10(2).

Tseng, H., Morris, B., & Tang, Y. (2015). The importance of teamwork trust, social presence, and cognitive presence in an online collaborative learning environment. In D. Rutledge & D. Slykhuis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2015—Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 538–541). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Van Alten, D. C., Phielix, C., Janssen, J., & Kester, L. (2019). Effects of flipping the classroom on learning outcomes and satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 28, Article 100281.

Vaterlaus, J. M., Shaffer, T., & Pulsipher, L. (2021). College student interpersonal and institutional relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative exploratory study. The Social Science Journal, 1–14.

Walther, J. B. (1992). Interpersonal effects in computer-mediated interaction: A relational perspective. Communication Research, 19(1), 52–90.

Zhang, S., Che, S., Nan, D., & Kim, J. H. (2023). How does online social interaction promote students’ continuous learning intentions? Frontiers in Psychology, 14, 1098110.

Zhang, S., Che, S., Nan, D., Li, Y., & Kim, J. H. (2023). I know my teammates: the role of Group Member Familiarity in Computer-Supported and face-to-face collaborative learning. Education and Information Technologies, 1-17.

Zheng, W., Yu, F., & Wu, Y. J. (2022). Social media on blended learning: The effect of rapport and motivation. Behaviour & Information Technology, 41(9), 1941–1951.

Zhonggen, Y., Ying, Z., Zhichun, Y., & Wentao, C. (2019). Student satisfaction, learning outcomes, and cognitive loads with a mobile learning platform. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 32(4), 323–341.

Zhu, C. (2012). Student satisfaction, performance, and knowledge construction in online collaborative learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 15(1), 127–136.



How to Cite

Zhang, S., Nan, D., Sun, S., Che, S., & Kim, J. H. (2023). Teammate Familiarity in Distributed Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning: The Mediating Role of Social Presence. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 24(4), 233–251.



Research Articles