Definition of Terms

Social Process

Social Process defined by Oxford Dictionaries is “The pattern of growth and change in a society over the years.” Examples suggest that adaptation is a social process: societies adapt (learn) by the ability to act collectively and social processes play a role in meaning making.  In the constructivist view, meaning is constructed from knowledge. provides another definition “the means by which culture and social organization change or are preserved.”(“the definition of social process,” n.d.) This should be very interesting to leaders interested in change management and organizational change.  Bandura(1977) emphasizes the importance of social processes in learning, suggesting that people learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors.  His social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influence.  Social learning theory describes how people learn new behaviors, values, and attitudes.


Social Presence-

In the mid 70’s, Short, Williams, and Christie, (1976) developed the theory of social presence to explain the effect telecommunications has on communications.  They defined social presence as the degree of salience between two communicators using a communication medium.  Since then, researchers conducted many new studies with each new researcher changing or adding to the meaning of social presence.

The term social presence is constantly changing due to the varied contributions from social scientist of different disciplines such as communications, leadership, and education, plus the changes in communication technology.  Earliest studies started in the late 60s and were originally studied in connection with face-to-face, audio and interactive television encounters with a focus on immediacy and intimacy(Wiener & Mehrabian, 1968).  The result is researchers do not agree on how to define and measure social presence. They do not agree what this phenomenon includes because there is no consistent definition for social presence within currently available literature.

Lowenthal (In Press) summarizes “Nearly everyone who writes about social presence continues to define it just a little differently; therefore making it very difficult for both researchers and practitioners to come to any firm conclusions about the nature of social presence.”  Rapidly emerging technology of computer-mediated communication in education and training creates a moving target, adding new variables and characteristics to already existing social presence definitions.


Research Reference Context Core Assumptions and Statements
Dewey Face to face Inquiry was a social activity and essential to the educational experience.  Students must be invested in what they were learning, curriculum relevant to students’ lives and learning by doing as crucial to children’s education.
Short, J.A., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976) Telecommunication developed the initial theory of social presence- a communicator’s sense of awareness of the presence of an interaction partner. “degree of salience of the other person in a mediated communication and the consequent salience of their interpersonal interactions”
Gunawardena & Zittle text-based medium computer moderated communications suggested social presence as a strong predictor of satisfaction, and participants felt a higher sense of social presence by using emoticons (i.e. icons that express emotions) to express missing nonverbal cues in written form.
Garrison, Anderson & Archer,(1999)(2010) Online learning Community of Inquiry Framework- requires Social presence; Cognitive presence; Teaching presence
Clark and Mayer regardless of delivery method must foster the psychological events necessary for learning regardless of delivery method. not the delivery medium but rather the instructional methods that cause learning

Wiener and Mehrabian’s (1968)

face-to-face, audio and interactive television interventions immediacy behaviors are actions that simultaneously communicate warmth, involvement, psychological closeness, availability for communication and positive affect.
Rettie Tu Lowenthal Online learning no clear, agreed upon, definition of social presence.  Connectedness more
Woods and Baker(2004)   present concepts of interaction and immediacy . They indicate high levels of interaction, particularly those that promote social engagement,
Aragon (2003) Distance learning views social presence as one variable among many that contributes to building a sense of community



Awareness is the ability to recognize and understand our own emotions and the emotion of others in the learning group and then to use these abilities to guide behavior.  In “Primal Leadership” Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee (2013) established “emotional intelligence” in the business wordlist.  They posit self-awareness is the ability to understand one’s emotions and recognize their impact.  It involves accurate self-assessment that allows one to understand their strengths and limits, as well as self-confidence.  Self-awareness happens when people become aware of aspects of themselves.  Social awareness is the ability to empathize, have organizational awareness that enables one to discern relationships and politics connected to the organization.  Social awareness emerges when people are aware of how they appear to others.

Community of Inquiry

Garrison, Anderson & Archer,(1999)(2010) established a process model of teaching and learning grounded in collaborative constructivist view of adult education. The model assumes learning requires the development of a community of learners that support meaningful inquiry and deep learning.  The model has three overlapping presences- Social Presence, Cognitive presence, and Teacher Presence.  Cognitive presence is “the extent to which the participants in any particular configuration of a community of inquiry are able to construct meaning through sustained communication.”  Teaching presence is defined as “the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educational worthwhile learning outcomes.”  Connectedness Helps to build communities and collective capacities for learning and opportunity.  Connected learning environments show values of equity, social belonging, and participation

The phrase community of inquiry was adapted from Lipman and Dewey.  Lipman describes the origins of this pedagogy:

The new educational dispensation I was starting to envision involved putting the spotlight on thinking in the classroom – not especially on the memorization of facts, but on the greater, grander concept of thinking itself.  This could be done by exposing the class to a specially prepared text that would exhibit a new way of thinking, encouraging the members of the class to interpret the passage as they saw fit, and having them discuss their interpretations together. The contention and deliberation that this process would stir up in the classroom would lead students to have opinions they would turn into judgements, and discussions they would turn into dialogues… About ten years later, borrowing a phrase invented by Charles Peirce, I would call such a group a ‘community of inquiry.” (Sutcliffe, 2011)



An important component of communication is often signaling a positive desire and willingness to communicate.  Immediacy in communication is the way we signal closeness, willingness to communicate and positive feelings to another person.  According to Peter Anderson in his article in the Encyclopedia of Communication Theory,(2009, p. 158) immediacy behaviors are actions that simultaneously communicate warmth, involvement, psychological closeness, availability for communication and positive affect. These behaviors are both verbal and nonverbal.  Original studies in connection with face-to-face, audio and interactive television interventions started in the 1960s, tracing back to Wiener and Mehrabian’s (1968) concept of immediacy.


GeoTol is an international language that manufacturers use on engineering drawings. It employs a series of internationally recognized symbols and feature control frames, rather than words, to clearly communicate the design intent and links design, manufacturing, and quality functions with a common language. (Neumann & Neumann, 2009, p. 1.2)


Learning domains

Affective, behavioral, and cognitive, are the A,B,Cs in learning tasks.  The Affective or Feeling Domain is concerned with feelings or emotions and have a hierarchy arranged from simple feelings to those more complex.  They range from students being open to new information, actively participating or interacting, seeing worth, making sense, to becoming an advocate of the lessons learned.

The Behavioral learning domain is concerned with learners responding to stimulus and stimulus-response can be made more effective by reinforcement.  Behavior is taught through repetition combined with feedback.  People can learn both directly and indirectly, by observing others.  The social learning approach uses models and learning takes place by observing and interacting with others.  Positive feedback encourages and reinforces success.  Negative feedback and immediate correction discourages unwanted behavior.  For example, desired behaviors can be stimulated by praise, good marks, or the feeling one achieves completing an important worthwhile goal.  However, the lack of recognition will create a negative effect and motivation to learn will decrease.

The Cognitive Learning Approach differs from the behaviorist approach.  Behaviorists stress the actions of the teacher and passive learners have no real choice other than to respond in a fixed way.  Cognitive theories focus on the student actively engaging in learning opportunities and developing.  Dewey and Bloom are two of the most well know classical cognitive theorists.  Dewey believed learning involves learning to think, the process of learning is more than doing a task or activity.  It also requires reflection and learning from this.  Bloom, considered learning occurred in both the ‘cognitive domain’, that associated with memory and understanding, and the ‘affective domain’, how feelings or emotions change as a result of learning.  Bloom’s Taxonomy is used to help drive learning to higher levels.

Andragogy- Adult learners

Adult workforce learners need to know why learning is needed and the benefits and risk of not knowing.  When adults know how learning will happen, what learning will occur, and why it is important, they will respond more positively.  Include adult learners in deciding what it is they will learn and setting goals and plans for their learning.  Autonomous learning includes the feeling of being in control of learning, responsible for decisions they make and t self-direction.

Adult learners bring rich experience and have a need to share their experience.  Learning can draw on this experience, a drawback from experience leads to bias, harder to learn new things, experience identifies adults who they are.  This means learning needs to be associated with existing knowledge and learning activities based in real life problem solving, active, constructive, and collaborative.  Learners sometimes need to realize they need to unlearn behaviors and past beliefs.

Match students’ readiness to learn, with timely and relevant focus on what is useful.  Understand the level of dependency and support varies, and how much support they students need from others varies and affects commitment and confidence to learn.

Orientation to learn, adult learning is life centered and focuses on tasks and problems rather than subjects.  Put learning into context use experiential learning cycle – concrete experiences, observe and reflect on the experience, generalize  to develop concepts then test the generalization in new situations.

Motivation grades and praise and inspiration (self satisfaction, enjoyment control, value what is learned is worthwhile and important) to learn


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