Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor/Committee Member

David Wicks, EdD

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Munyi Shea, PhD

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Robin Henrikson, PhD

Keywords

telepresence, embodiment, social presence, engagement, hybrid learning

Abstract

As students’ online learning opportunities continue to increase in higher education, students are choosing not to come back to campus in-person for a variety of personal, health, safety, and financial reasons. The growing use of video conferencing technology during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed classes to continue, but students reported a sense of disconnectedness and lack of engagement with their classes. Telepresence robots may be an alternative to video conferencing that can provide learning experiences closer to the in-person experience, which also provides a stronger sense of embodiment, social presence, and engagement in the classroom. This study explored the use of telepresence robots in four undergraduate, humanities, blended learning courses. Sixty-nine students, 43 in-person and 26 remote students, were surveyed using the Telepresence and Engagement Measurement Scale (TEMS) and provided written feedback about their experience. The TEMS measured embodiment, social presence, psychological involvement, and three indicators of engagement: behavioral, affective, and cognitive. Embodiment and social presence were positively correlated as were embodiment and behavioral engagement. There was no significant difference between the two groups’ perceptions of social presence but there was a significant difference between groups’ perceptions of engagement. Qualitative data and effect sizes greater than 0.80 supported the reliability and validity of the TEMS instrument as a measurement instrument for future study of blended learning environments using remote tools such as telepresence robots. Provided that technological issues such as connectivity and audio and video quality are addressed, telepresence robots can be a useful tool to help students feel more embodied and socially present in today’s blended learning classrooms.

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