Compare Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Instruction for Science Teacher Preparation

Jianlan Wang, Yuanhua Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Online teacher education is an important alternative in response to the problem of teacher shortage. The format of interaction is critical in leveraging social and intellectual connection between learners. Yet, few studies have examined this issue in online teacher preparation. In this study, we examined two commonly used interactional formats that are synchronous and asynchronous interaction. We separated 145 pre-service science teachers into four groups experiencing face-to-face interaction (G1), synchronous interaction through online meetings (G2), asynchronous interaction through online forum (G3), and individual work without interaction (G4). The four groups received the same curriculum and the impact of instructors on peer interaction was controlled. We compared pre-service teachers’ social and cognitive presences and their science teaching using the 5E model between the four groups. The results show that the two groups with synchronous interaction (G1 and G2) outperformed the one with asynchronous interaction (G3) and no interaction (G4) in social presence, cognitive presence, and science teaching. Pearson correlation data suggest that the participants’ social presence correlated largely with cognitive presence and their teaching practice to some extent. However, cognitive presence correlated poorly with the teaching practice. The findings provide empirical evidence supporting the importance of interaction in online instruction. Synchronicity was positively related to the pre-service teachers’ connection to peers in the learning community, which entailed better interaction with content but might not necessarily promote their cognitive learning outcome. Implications for online teacher preparation were also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-285
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Science Teacher Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Online teacher preparation
  • asynchronous interaction
  • synchronous interaction


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