Community of inquiry as a theoretical framework to foster “epistemic engagement” and “cognitive presence” in online education
In this paper, several recent theoretical conceptions of technology-mediated education are examined and a study of 2159 online learners is presented. The study validates an instrument designed to measure teaching, social, and cognitive presence indicative of a community of learners within the community of inquiry (CoI) framework [Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2 , 1–19; Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2001). Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 15 (1), 7–23]. Results indicate that the survey items cohere into interpretable factors that represent the intended constructs. Further it was determined through structural equation modeling that 70% of the variance in the online students’ levels of cognitive presence, a multivariate measure of learning, can be modeled based on their reports of their instructors’ skills in fostering teaching presence and their own abilities to establish a sense of social presence. Additional analysis identifies more details of the relationship between learner understandings of teaching and social presence and its impact on their cognitive presence. Implications for online teaching, policy, and faculty development are discussed.