Students’ Perceptions of Social Presence in Blended Learning Courses in a Tanzanian Medical College

Mustapha Almasi, Chang Zhu

Abstract


Social presence in a blended learning involves construction of learning through student sharing, interaction and support thus improving students’ motivation, and learning. This study examines students’ perceptions of social presence (SP) in blended learning courses (BL) in a medical college in Tanzania. Three research questions are addressed: are there significant differences in the reported scores of social presences among students based on gender, age and year of study? How is social presence encouraged in the BL medical courses? How is social presence associated with students’ learning in the BL medical courses? Following a mixed method, Social Presence Scale and Focus Group Discussion were in data collection. BL in these courses included face-to- face lectures, student online and face-to-face group discussions, laboratory practices, team-based learning (TBL), and online exams. The study involved 144 medical students. Survey results showed no significant differences in the reported scores of social presences based on their characteristics. However, affective expression and open communication were more valued than group cohesion elements of SP. Qualitative results show that social presence was encouraged through provision of group assignments, teacher online activities, and students’ group discussions. Through social presence and interaction, students learnt various concepts, examination questions in both online and in face-to-face discussions. The conclusion is that students’ characteristics are not crucial, however, group discussion and social presence influence their learning.

Keywords


social presence, blended learning, perception, student learning

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Copyright (c) 2018 MUSTAPHA ALMASI, CHANG ZHU


International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning. ISSN: 1863-0383
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