The Spread of Social Presence: Longitudinal Network Analysis Modeling of Students? Peer Influence in Online Learning
Daniela Castellanos Reyes

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Purdue University

Primary Discipline

Social presence, the ability to perceive others and project yourself in an online environment as real, positively influences online students? motivation, satisfaction, retention, and learning outcomes in online learning. Despite being crucial for successful online learning experiences, little work has thoroughly examined the evolution of social presence over time and students? social presence influence on peers? interactions. In other words, if social presence can be learned by interacting with others. My dissertation will elucidate this gap by answering the overarching question: how do online students? social presence evolution over time shape their online learning behaviors? I posit that researching online learning communities without considering the interdependence among learners may provide a restrictive perspective. Therefore, I will use network analysis to reflect the dependence among learners in online collaborative learning communities. Through the study of panel network data of online graduate students? interactions and self-reported levels of social presence, I will investigate how learners? social presence spreads in an online network of students over two consecutive courses using a stochastic actor-oriented model. My dissertation will show the first longitudinal evidence of social presence contagion behavior in online learning. The findings of my dissertation will improve educational practice by identifying behaviors that harm online social presence and providing specific actions for online instructors and instructional designers to promote social presence in online learning. My three-article dissertation includes two additional studies that explore social presence through clickstream interaction and identify social presence patterns that support knowledge construction in online learning.
About Daniela Castellanos Reyes
Daniela (Ela) Castellanos-Reyes is a Ph.D. Candidate in Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University. Proudly raised by a single mother and a grandmother who finished school via correspondence, Ela approaches her research with the belief that online and distance learning improve women?s lives. She is an educational researcher within the fields of instructional design and learning analytics. Her research focuses on supporting online learners? social presence through network analysis. Specifically, Ela is interested in how peer-influence shapes learning communities in online learning environments. In her dissertation, Ela examines how online learners? behaviors evolve over time influencing members? ability to feel connected in a community. Ela has also worked on the role of Latina/o/x in instructional design, supporting instructors? transition to online teaching, and visualizing learners? interactions using process data. Her work has been published in Computers in Human Behavior, the Journal of Computing in Higher Education, and TechTrends. Ela?s work has been supported by the International Peace Scholarship awarded by Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) and the Frank DeBruicker Graduate Award in Educational Technology. Prior to her doctoral studies, Ela earned her B.A. in English Philology and English Education from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia where she taught English as a foreign language, and a master?s degree in Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University. Outside research, Ela enjoys attending church, re-reading Harry Potter, and dancing in the kitchen with her husband.

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