Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Donald O. Case


The role of teacher immediacy and its impact upon student learning within the traditional classroom has been established within the instructional communication discipline in the past 30 years. In recent years, with the advent of computer-mediated distance education (i.e. online courses), some researchers have attempted to apply the same theories and measures of concepts without making the distinction between actual teacher behavioral indicants of immediacy and student perceptions of immediacy, nor recognizing that there may be a different number of variables involved between a single lesson presented online and an entire course presented over a period of time. Building upon previous models, the Short-Term Motivational Model of Learning was proposed and tested, using survey results from 229 undergraduate students who completed an online lesson presented in six different formats, and who were tested for learning outcomes. In comparison to a direct measure of learning outcomes (number of correct test answers), it was found that the Perceived Cognitive Learning Scale correlated highly with the direct measure, while the Learning Loss Scale did not. Three of the three study hypotheses were supported. Hypothesis one proposed that higher student perception of immediacy would correlate with higher student state motivation and was supported. Hypothesis two proposed that higher student trait motivation would correlate with higher student state motivation and was supported. Hypothesis three proposed that higher student state motivation would correlate with higher student cognitive learning. Student cognitive learning determined through three measures: the Perceived Cognitive Learning Scale, pretest-posttest scores differences, and the Learning Loss Scale. Using the Perceived Cognitive Learning Scale, hypothesis three was supported. Using the pretest-posttest scores differences, hypothesis three was supported weakly. Using the Learning Loss Scale, hypothesis three was also supported weakly. In testing whether teacher behavioral indicants of immediacy, student perception of immediacy and student trait motivation would explain significant variance in student state motivation in a single lesson presented online, trait motivation failed to be a predictor. Subsequently, in testing whether all of these variables would explain significant variance in student cognitive learning (and using each of the three measures of student cognitive learning), trait motivation again failed to be a predictor.

In general the results support the idea that perceived learning is affected by the degree of motivation as affected by immediacy. While an attempt to vary degrees of immediacy was not fully successful, results also suggest that adding audio to online lessons may not produce significant gains in learning when compared to text-only presentations.