Instructor Presence in a Virtual Learning Environment in Dutch Primary School Students:
: An Investigation into Embodiment and Social Cues, Exploring Differences in Social Presence, Cognitive Load, Motivation, and Learning Outcomes

  • Fenny Pielage

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Corona-virus pandemic has had major effects on students in different educational domains. Approximately 1.6 billion students were out of school worldwide. The importance of preparedness has become evident for educational institutions to offer online education. Social presence has been hypothesised to play an important role in facilitating learning in online learning environments. Instructor presence can enhance students’ perceived social presence. Instructor presence and the use of social cues can reduce cognitive load by promoting sufficient available cognitive resources for learning. Also, instructor presence can positively influence students’ motivation and learning performance. Most studies examining instructor presence are conducted with higher education students. This experimental study addresses the need for more research that involves primary school students and is based on a quantitative between subjects design. The purpose was to evaluate instructor presence during an online lesson in 138 Dutch primary school students in grade 7 and 8. Participants were randomly divided into three conditions with the platform CloudClass: a control condition with text, images, and the teacher’s narrative; an experimental condition with a teacher as a static image; and an experimental condition with a teacher expressing social cues. The results of the analysis of covariance show no statistically significant differences between the three conditions on the outcome measures social presence (social presence questionnaire), cognitive load (Cognitive Load Index), motivation (Intrinsic Motivation Inventory), and learning outcomes (knowledge test), but did not show any negative effects either.
Date of Award28 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Faculty of Educational Sciences
SupervisorKate Xu (Supervisor)


  • virtual learning environment
  • instructor presence
  • social presence
  • cognitive load
  • motivation

Cite this