Exploring perceptions of learner presence in online baccalaureate degree completion students
Olson, Christina C.
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Online baccalaureate completion students represent a large and growing population in nursing education today. The purpose of this descriptive exploratory study was to (a) measure Learner Presence in online RN-to-BSN students, (b) identify student characteristics that may relate to Learner Presence, (c) identify program-specific characteristics that may relate to Learner Presence, and (d) determine if, and how, student and program-specific characteristics affect the variable of Learner Presence. Two instruments were used. The Modified Community of Inquiry Learner Presence Scale (MCLPS) is a 21-item self-report based on the social and cognitive presence constructs of the Community of Inquiry Survey (Arbaugh, et al., 2008). The researcher developed the 14 item, RN-to-BSN Student and Program Characteristics Questionnaire, which is based on key characteristics of RN-to-BSN students and program characteristics of online education. The setting for this study was internet based, and a purposeful convenience sample consisted of 239 online RN-to-BSN students in the United States. Descriptive statistics, confirmatory analysis of the MCLPS, Pearson Product Moment correlations, and Independent t tests were conducted. Multiple logistic regression was also used to answer the research questions. A weak negative correlation (r =-.192, p < .003) was found between age and Learner Presence. Additionally, three significant predictors of Learner Presence scores included the course activities used in online courses: (a) papers (p = .042), (b) group projects (p = .008), and (c) online presentations (p = .011) were determined. Group projects were positively associated with higher Learner Presence scores (t = 2.679), whereas online presentations (t = -2.55) and papers (t = -2.044) were negatively associated with lower Learner Presence scores.