D. Randy Garrison
July 10, 2018

In this post I will pick-up on the topic of learning outcomes and the CoI framework that I addressed in a previous editorial (June 19, 2017). At the time I had emphasized that the CoI framework is a model founded on the process of collaborative inquiry. To be clear, a CoI may be transactional but it has specific, intended, and worthwhile learning outcomes. Furthermore, the CoI transaction is based upon the premise that a collaborative constructivist learning experience may be the most effective means to achieve deep and meaningful learning outcomes. While there is evidence that perceived and real quality outcomes are associated with a CoI experience (Garrison, 2017, p. 59), further evidence is required to validate this premise.

With this in mind I was pleased to see new research emerge that explored the interdependencies of the CoI presences and learning outcomes (Yussiff, Ahmad, & Mustapha, 2018). This study used experimental and control groups (60 and 42 participants respectively) to assess the influence of the presences (using the CoI questionnaire) on actual learning outcomes in an e-collaborative learning environment as measured by pre and post-test syllabus performances. The findings validated the CoI questionnaire and using a structural equation model it was “demonstrated that collaborative learning experience strongly predict learning outcomes indirectly through the mediating and moderating effects of the three presences” (Conclusion).

I find these results encouraging but not surprising. We have predicted such results from the outset based on the premise that when deep and meaningful learning expectations exist and care is given to designing and facilitating a collaborative constructivist learning experience, quality outcomes will result. Future research, however, should also consider the quality of learning outcomes. I have argued that a CoI approach (collaborative inquiry) is not required for simple recall of information (surface learning). Collaborative inquiry is simply not necessary or efficient as a means to transfer knowledge in whole. On the other hand, if the goal is to construct deep learning outcomes, then investment in collaborative inquiry is not only justified but arguably essential. The research challenge is to demonstrate that deep learning outcomes are the result of a CoI approach.

Therefore, it is clear to me that linking learning outcomes to the concerted influence of the CoI presences is an area that deserves further study such that it will contribute to the validation of the CoI framework as a means to achieve deep and meaningful learning outcomes.


Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Community of Inquiry Framework for Research and Practice (3rd Edition). London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis.

Yussiff, A-S., Ahmad, W. F. W. & Mustapha, E. E. (2018). E-Collaborative Learning experience, Interdependencies of Presences and Learning Outcomes: Evidence of Mediating and Moderating Effects. International Journal of Business Information Systems, forthcoming article.



D. Randy Garrison
Professor Emeritus, University of Calgary
D. Randy Garrison is professor emeritus at the University of Calgary.Dr. Garrison has published extensively on teaching and learning in adult, higher and distance education contexts. He has authored, co-authored or edited twelve books and well over 100 refereed articles/chapters.His recent books are Thinking Collaboratively: Learning in a Community of Inquiry (2016) and E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Community of Inquiry Framework for Research and Practice (3rd Edition) (2017), and he recently won the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Division of Distance Learning Book Award (2nd place), 2017.


Learning Outcomes and Presences
D. Randy Garrison
July 10, 2018
In this post I will pick-up on the topic of learning outcomes and the CoI framework that I addressed in a previous editorial ( June 19, 2017

Assessment of CoI Revisions
D. Randy Garrison
June 1, 2018
For those interested in the theoretical aspects of the CoI framework let me draw your attention to an inventory and assessment of proposed CoI revisions provided by Kozan and Caskurlu (2018). They review articles that argue for either including new ...

Facilitation Responsibilities
D. Randy Garrison
April 26, 2018
Nothing may be more central to the success of a community of inquiry than facilitation. Yes, design is a crucial predicate; however, if design is congruent with the purpose and CoI principles, then the ensuing dynamics are dependent upon the ...

Critical Thinking and Social Media: An Argument for Learning Communities
D. Randy Garrison
March 13, 2018
With all the attention focused on "fake news" I began to think about how the principles and processes of the CoI framework might be relevant to this issue. The attached paper (abstract below) is an exploration of the relevance and impact such an approach ...

Designing a Community of Inquiry
D. Randy Garrison
January 2, 2018
In this first post of the New Year I will focus on creating an effective community of inquiry. This is the teaching presence responsibility to design a purposeful, collaborative and trusting community of learners. When we turn to the
The Community of Inquiry is a project of the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University, researchers of the Community of Inquiry framework, and members of the CoI community.