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D. Randy Garrison
January 25, 2023

The cognitivepresence (CP) construct describes the essence of the inquiry process within acommunity of learners. That is, it reflects a process that fuses individualreflection in constructing personal meaning with collaboratively confirmingunderstanding amongst other learners through critical discourse. This includes thedynamic and responsibility of self and co-regulation of purposeful inquiry.From a broader perspective, cognitive presence “is a self-correcting processwhere members of the community challenge beliefs, suggest alternativeperspectives for exploration and negotiate understanding” (Garrison, 2017, p.51). To be clear, the CP construct is operationalized by the Practical Inquirymodel and its four phases of collaborative inquiry (Triggering Event,Exploration, Integration, Resolution). The challenge that we experienced in ourearly community of inquiry (CoI) research was moving students expeditiously throughto resolution (

For thoseinterested in the theoretical basis of the CP construct, I would note thatgenerically it evolved from Dewey’s work on reflective thinking and his conceptionof the practical inquiry process. While we borrowed the term community ofinquiry from Matthew Lipman and we generically use the term critical thinking,the CP construct did not evolve directly from these sources. As I have statedin a previous post “cognitive presence is a process of inquiry that includesthinking, listening and expressing thoughts in the process of criticaldiscourse” (, CP is strongly shaped by social and educational dynamics (i.e.,social and teaching presence). Moreover:

“Implementingand assessing the quality and sustainability of CP (practical inquiry) bringinto play the essential elements of teaching presence and social presence. CPcannot be understood in isolation; it is a purposeful and collaborative processinterdependent with teaching and social presence (

From a validityperspective, the CP construct may be the least theoretically challenged of thethree CoI presences. The construct was initially confirmed in one of theseminal articles associated with the CoI framework (Garrison, Anderson &Archer, 2001). Studies have since supported this construct. For example, aconfirmatory factor analysis empirically supported the conceptualization of theCP construct along with the other CoI presences (, it should not be lost that indirectly the CP construct has beenconfirmed through the extensive empirical validation of the CoI surveyinstrument ( a practical perspective, recent research has added to the credibility ofthe CP construct by demonstrating its significant effect on critical thinkingand learning results (SP, Sholeh, & Hermanto, 2021). Other research reportson a panel exploring studies regarding the “design and facilitation ofcognitive presence for collaborative learning” and concludes there is evidencefor the importance of teaching presence design and facilitation for CP (Olesovaet al., in press, Abstract). The link to teaching presence (TP) raises theimportant role of regulation in a community of inquiry.

When analyzingcognitive presence from a TP or implementation perspective it is important tounderstand that in a community of inquiry, CP cannot be understood in theabsence of the inherent influence of regulation manifested through the teachingpresence construct. The influence of TP was made evident in a recent study concerningthe quality of learning focusing on CP (Maranna et al., 2022). Another studyhas also shown that teaching presence has a strong relationship with CP (Li,2022). Conversely, it has been shown that inadequate CP growth was mainly dueto inadequate teaching presence (Alharbi, 2022). These findings stronglyindicate the influence of teaching presence on the inquiry process manifestedby CP operationalized by the Practical Inquiry model. Moreover, these findings alsosupport my position that to understand collaborative inquiry the purposefulregulation of the learning process must be recognized. This connectionintroduces the importance of the role of metacognition in an inquiry approachto learning. The issue of metacognition and the regulation of inquiry was exploredexplicitly though in the development of the Shared Metacognition construct crucialto effectively operationalizing CP in a dynamic learning community.

Shared Metacognition

An update on CP wouldbe deficient if it did not include developments associated with metacognition ina collaborative learning environment. This is the focus of the SharedMetacognition construct (Garrison & Akyol,2015a; 2015b). Sharedmetacognition is critical to understand and implement CP effectively in acommunity of learners. The reason is that it reflects an awareness of theinquiry process that is essential to the process of constructing personal meaningand collaborative confirming understanding. We have defined the Shared Metacognitiveconstruct as “two interdependent elements: self and co-regulation of cognition... [each exhibiting] a monitoring (awareness) and a managing (strategicaction) function” (Garrison & Akyol, 2015a, p. 68). It is crucial to appreciatethat metacognition must go beyond self-direction or self-regulation if it is toapply to a collaborative constructivist learning community. Collaborativeinquiry provides a rich environment for regulatory practices to emerge wherestrategies can be identified and explored in constructing meaning and confirmingunderstanding. Learners in a community of inquiry assess and merge theirpersonal choices and collaborative strategies. Critical discourse is essentialin this process to realizing both self and co-regulation of inquiry (, it is important to note that the Shared Metacognition construct wasoperationalized and validated in a quantitative questionnaire (Garrison &Akyol,2015a; 2015b) and was further validated through confirmatory factoranalysis (Kilis & Yildirim, 2018a).

Sharedmetacognition offers great promise to understand thinking and learningcollaboratively. Knowledge of shared metacognition can increase students’awareness of collaborative inquiry and set the stage for effectively monitoringand managing learning in a community of learners. Moreover, from an educationalperspective, knowledge of shared metacognition can help identify and implementeffective facilitation techniques to implement collaborative inquiry processesand achieve deep and meaningful learning outcomes. Cognitive presence through practicalinquiry necessitates monitoring and regulating the learning dynamiccollaboratively. For this reason, shared metacognition is a crucial line ofresearch in the psychology of thinking and learning collaboratively. The SharedMetacognition construct has enormous potential to refine and expand ourunderstanding of collaborative inquiry and to inform the practical implicationsof learning in a collaborative environment (

From a research perspectiveit has been demonstrated that there is a strong positive relationship betweenmetacognitive awareness and academic self-efficacy as well as a moderatepositive relationship between community of inquiry and academic self-efficacy (Karaoglan-Yilmaz,Ustun, Zhang, & Yilmaz, 2022). More specifically to the previous discussion,a study of shared metacognition found that learners perceived CP to be higherin the context of the CoI presences (teaching and social presence) and sharedmetacognition (Sadaf, Kim, & Olesova, 2022). Interestingly, the study foundthat “co-regulation showed stronger relationships with the three onlinepresences (social, teaching, and cognitive) than self-regulation” (p. 76). Thisprovides credence to the original position to explore shared metacognition anddraw attention to the importance of co-regulation in a community of inquiry (Akyol& Garrison, 2011; Garrison & Akyol, 2013). At the same time, Sadif etal. (2022) found that social presence was strongly associated with both selfand co-regulation which requires further reflection. This should not besurprising considering the collaborative nature of CP and more specifically thecrucial role of co-regulation in a community of inquiry. In this regard, theauthors state that this “emphasizes the importance of collaboration … anopportunity for students to become aware of and engaged with others'metacognitive thoughts and activities in addition to their personalreflections” (p. 90).

The Shared Metacognitionquestionnaire offers great potential to conduct worthwhile and potentiallyinsightful research into the challenges of collaboratively regulating inquiry. Thefirst challenge in my mind is to understand the effect of introducing learnersto the idea of shared metacognition and how taking individual and collaborativeresponsibility for regulation of inquiry is essential for deep and meaningfulapproaches to learning in a community of inquiry. In short, we need tounderstand the impact of the awareness of shared metacognition is on takingresponsibility to progress effectively and efficiently through the phases ofinquiry. This would complement exploring in greater detail the conditions forcollaborative or team regulation. In this regard, a recent study found thatlearners who were involved in team regulation significantly enhanced theirlearning outcomes (Tsai, 2022). To the purpose of stimulating research in thisarea, I have shared a sample of possible research questions ( understanding regulation design principles. We should also not neglect to emphasizethat the Shared Metacognition construct itself would also benefit from furtherdevelopment and refinement. I have addressed this issue in a recent post interms of conceptually appreciating the strategic importance of regulation (


The focus ofthis post was to direct attention to recent developments associated withcognitive presence and why it is important to continue to explore theoreticaland pragmatic implications of this construct. I also argue that this mustinclude a focus on understanding the role of metacognition and regulation ofinquiry in learning collaboratively. This raises the practical issues ofmonitoring and managing the inquiry process in a community of learners. In supportof this position, it has been noted that it is “reasonable to pay closerattention to the type of the inquiry task and how it facilitates the process ofcognitive presence” (Olesova et al., 2022, Conclusion).Moreover, from a research perspective, it was stated that “studies can examinehow intentionally designed collaborative inquiry learning environments allowlearners to regulate cognitive processes” (Olesova et al., 2022, Conclusion). Thisis the focus of the Shared Metacognition construct and may be the future tobetter understand and guide the progression of cognitive presence in acommunity of inquiry.

Finally, I wantto briefly draw your attention to the issue of learning analytics as a tool toefficiently monitor and manage collaborative inquiry. Facilitating collaborativeinquiry is a complex task that would greatly benefit from an increasedunderstanding of strategies and tactics in the regulation of collaborativeinquiry. This point was made in a study assessing CP with the conclusion thatwhile facilitation contributes to CP development, “a primary issue limitingquality and timely coaching is instructors' lack of tools to efficientlyidentify CP phases in massive discussion transcripts and effectively assesslearners' cognitive development” (Ba et al., 2022, p. 1). This study offered afeasible path for adopting learning analytics. For a brief introduction to thetopic of learning analytics I would refer you to two of my postings (;


Akyol, Z., & Garrison, D. R. (2011). Assessing metacognition in an online community of inquiry. Internet& Higher Education, 14(3), 183-190.

Alharbi, A. (2022). Asynchronous Discussions to Enhance Online Communitiesof Inquiry in the Saudi Higher ‎Education Context. International Journal ofHigher Education, 11(6), 86-107.

Ba, S., Hu, X., Stein, D., & Liu, Q. (2022). Assessing cognitivepresence in online inquiry‐based discussion through text classification andepistemic network analysis. British Journal of Educational Technology,00, 1-20.

Garrison, D. R., & Akyol, Z. (2013). Toward the development of ametacognition construct for the community of inquiry framework. Internet andHigher Education, 17, 84-89.

Garrison, D. R., & Akyol, Z. (2015a). Toward the development ofa metacognition construct for the community of inquiry framework. TheInternet and Higher Education, 24, 66-71.

Garrison, D. R., & Akyol, Z. (2015b). Corrigendum to ‘Toward thedevelopment of a metacognition construct for communities of inquiry.’ TheInternet and Higher Education, 26, 56.

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

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., and Archer, W. (2001). Criticalthinking, cognitive presence and computer conferencing in distance education. AmericanJournal of Distance Education, 15(1), 7-23.

Karaoglan-Yilmaz, F. G., Ustun, A. B.,Zhang, K., & Yilmaz, R. Metacognitiveawareness, reflective thinking, problem solving, and community of inquiry aspredictors of academic self-efficacy in blended learning: A correlationalstudy. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 24(1), 20-36.

Li, F. (2022). “Are you there?”: Teaching presence and interactionin large online literature classes. Asian-Pacific Journal of Second andForeign Language Education, 7(1), 1-15.

Maranna, S., Willison, J., Joksimovic, S., Parange, N., &Costabile, M. (2022). Factors that influence cognitive presence: A scopingreview. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 38(4), 95-111.

Olesova, L., Sadaf, A., Kumar, S., Ozogul, G., Zhu, M., Moore, R.L., Miller, C., & Phillips, T. M. (preprint). Cognitive Presence in OnlineCourses: Design and Facilitation of Collaborative Learning.

Sadaf, A., Kim, S. Y., & Olesova, L.(2022). Relationship Between Metacognition andOnline Community of Inquiry in an Online Case-Based Course. Online Learning,26(4), 78-93.

SP, E. F. J., Sholeh, M., & Hermanto, F. Y. (2021). How InquiryLearning Model Affects Students’ Learning Results and Critical Thinking Skillsin Covid-19 Pandemic?. Dinamika Pendidikan, 16(2), 113-123.

Tsai, C. W., Lee, L. Y., Cheng, Y. P., Lin, C. H., Hung, M. L.,& Lin, J. W. (2022). Integrating online meta-cognitive learning strategyand team regulation to develop students’ programming skills, academicmotivation, and refusal self-efficacy of Internet use in a cloud classroom.Universal Access in the Information Society, 1-16.



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 fifteen books; 94 articles; 68 book chapters; 40 conference proceedings; and more than 100 academic presentations. His major books are: Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Community of Inquiry Framework for Research and Practice (3rd Edition); Garrison, D. R. (2016). Thinking Collaboratively: Learning in a Community of Inquiry; Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles and guidelines; Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2000). A transactional perspective on teaching-learning: A framework for adult and higher education. Curriculum vitae


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The Community of Inquiry is a project of Athabasca University, Mount Royal University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, as well as researchers and members of the CoI community.