The Community of Inquiry makes use of cookies. By continuing, you consent to this use. More information.
D. Randy Garrison
April 18, 2023

In previous posts specific to the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework I offered evidence of its general confirmation, theoretical updates, questionnaire validation, and use in professional development including design principles. The conclusion of this work is that the CoI framework has been widely adopted and shown to be well researched and theoretically relevant for online and blended learning. In general, we have documented the growing evidence of its construct validity ( Furthermore, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to emphasize the generic nature of the CoI framework. The assumptions and principles were derived and are appropriate for most educational environments, and therefore, not exclusive to online learning. The bottom line is that with the transformational shift to blended learning that includes online and traditional face-to-face learning, the CoI framework has become an invaluable resource.

The Community of Inquiry framework has demonstrated its popularity, influence and sustainability over the last two decades largely due to its focus on the reflective and communicative dynamics of thinking and learning collaboratively ( A more precise description of the CoI framework is a process of collaborative inquiry that fuses reflection and discourse facilitated by shared teaching and social presence. With regard to learning outcomes associated with a community of inquiry, evidence provides testimony to the value of collaborative learning environments and the efficacy of the CoI framework ( In this editorial my goal is to provide additional evidence regarding the effectiveness and influence of the CoI framework as well as a construct (shared metacognition) that I consider the most important and promising area of research to ensure the effectiveness of a CoI learning experience.

To be clear, effectiveness can be approached from different perspectives. I start with an interesting approach to effectiveness by assessing value creation (learning outcomes generated by social learning through interaction and communication in communities and networks) using a five cycle value creation (immediate, potential, applied, realised, and reframing) (Gao, Ward & Fabricatore, 2023). The “study's findings evidenced that CoI activities in a formal learning environment can create VALUE” (Conclusion). Moreover, this review found “the activities of CoI promote immediate, potential, applied, realised, and reframing VALUEs” (Results). However, it was found that teaching presence mostly promoted immediate value; social presence mostly promoted immediate and potential values; and the activities of cognitive presence promoted “multiple VALUEs” (Abstract). In terms of future research, the article suggests exploring the reframing value “for improving the functioning of the entire community”(Discussion). I would argue that "enhancing the design of CoI activities to promote reframing" (Discussion) could best be done in the context of the CoI framework using the Shared Metacognition construct. The reframing value issue raises the specter of monitoring and managing the process of collaborative inquiry. This highlights the importance and value of a construct such as socially shared metacognition. This is a topic I will address in the next section.

From another perspective, the CoI framework has been shown to be effective in making sense of the design and delivery of online learning. The next study I wish to discuss was a review of the literature that concluded the CoI framework offered “extraordinary strength in creating a positive education experience” but argued the framework needs “to make explicit to instructional designers and instructors the need to address using the CoI framework within an effective overall design” (Wilson,& Berge, 2023, p. 159). While I have argued that this is the next phase of CoI development that requires greater attention, it must be noted that considerable work has been done in this area (;Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013) and two new books are due out soon(Cleveland-Innes, Stenbom, Garrison (Eds.), 2024; Vaughan, Dell, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2023).

Another study of the CoI framework and student attitudes in the health professions concluded that establishment of a community of inquiry and its three presences are “a relevant and stable framework for investigating sustained remote health professions teaching and learning environments [as well as] carefully designed online learning environments” (Burbage, Jia, & Hoang, 2022, Abstract). More specific to assessing learning effectiveness, a study by Tusyanah et al.,(2023) confirmed previous studies of the CoI framework “that cognitive presence, teaching presence, and social presence positively and significantly(57.9%) affect students' academic performance” (p. 49), with teaching presence leading the way. Finally, I would like to bring your attention to a study that explored the relationships among the CoI presences regarding learning satisfaction (Xue, Xu, Wu, & Hu, 2023). The finding pointed conclusively to the fact “that teaching presence significantly and positively predicted social presence and cognitive presence” (Abstract).

Future Development

While there are many promising theoretical and practical developments associated with the CoI framework (Garrison, in press), an effective CoI is dependent upon learners’ ability to collaboratively monitor and manage the inquiry process. In my judgement, exploring this dynamic may be the most promising area of research and development regarding the CoI framework. The reason for this is the importance of navigating the complexities of critical inquiry in a learning community. With the rapid development of collaborative online learning, understanding of personal and social regulation of learning is becoming increasingly important. The challenge of our times is how do we manage collaborative inquiry learning environments. The result is that effective collaborative approaches to learning demand strategies that integrate personal reflection and shared discourse through the monitoring and management of the inquiry cycle. At the core of creating and managing such a community of learners is shared leadership that can ensure constructive progression of the learning experience while adjusting to shifting interests and challenges. (

From a broader perspective I would argue that educators have lost their focus regarding the central purpose of education – learning. Notwithstanding the development in learning science, I believe there is insufficient interest and focus on learning theory and how learners construct personal meaning and collaboratively confirm understanding. The focus seems to have shifted from the psychology of an educational experience to larger societal concerns. My argument is that we must not risk losing our focus on the core experience of understanding and guiding learners in how to monitor and manage the collaborative learning experience. A process that has become increasingly important in an age of misinformation and confirmation bias. At the macro level, shared metacognition, arguably, has an enormous need and potential to explore how to encourage and develop critical thinkers who can create personal meaning and shared understanding in the development of knowledge that can identify misinformation and challenge confirmation bias.

Specifically, I would like to see greater attention directed to socially shared metacognition that speaks directly and specifically to how we approach learning in a collaborative environment. That is, how exactly do we encourage learners to take the responsibility and control to monitor and manage collaborative inquiry and learning. This is an area of research that can inform approaches to learning how to learn. From the perspective of a collaborative constructivist learning experience, this raises the issue of shared metacognition and its role in the awareness of the collaborative inquiry process and learning effectiveness. In a previous blog posting I described a shared metacognition construct as an awareness of one’s learning in the process of constructing meaning and creating understanding associated with self and others ( This process is defined by the Shared Metacognition construct that brings together cognitive and teaching presence with a concurrent consideration of a safe learning climate (social presence). The Shared Metacognition construct within the CoI framework represents a strategic approach to monitoring and managing self and co-regulatory strategies specific to collaborative inquiry and is essential to a collaborative learning framework.  

To reinforce the importance of both self and co-regulation I recently came across a study that found that both “were copredictors of student engagement in blended learning[and] positively moderated the relationship between perceived teaching presence and cognitive engagement” (Liao, et al., 2023). Notwithstanding that the study did not use the Shared Metacognition construct, this highlights a promising area of research that would be greatly enhanced by using the Shared Metacognition questionnaires. It is also worth noting the advantage of using validated questionnaires that have theoretical and empirical connections to regulation and the CoI framework.

In this age of connectivity, we very much need approaches that encourage critical and creative thinking by being exposed to a variety of information sources which stimulate personal reflection and shared discourse. We must do all we can to search for truth through collaborative inquiry while being vigilant to the degradation of fact ( My regret is that I was not able to continue an in-depth study of the Shared Metacognition construct and explore its role in effective deep and meaningful collaborative learning and sustained critical inquiry. This has become increasingly important in an information society plagued by misinformation. To be truthfully informed, a shared metacognitive approach to learning is not an option. It goes to the essence of the integrity and value of collaborative approaches to thinking and learning in a ubiquitous information society increasingly susceptible to misinformation.


Burbage, A. K., Jia, Y., & Hoang, T. (Preprint). Community of Inquiry, Self-Efficacy, and Student Attitudes in Sustained Remote Health Professions Learning Environments. Research Square.

Cleveland-Innes, M., Stenbom, S., &Garrison, D. R. (Eds.) (2024). Community of Inquiry applications: Introduction, design, delivery. London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis.

Gao, L., Ward, R., & Fabricatore, C. (2023). The value creation in communities of inquiry: a systematic synthesis. SN Social Science, 3(73).

Garrison, D. R. (in press). A brief history and future of the Community of Inquiry framework (A personal recollection). In Cleveland-Innes, Stenbom & Garrison, (Eds.), Community of Inquiry applications: Introduction, design, delivery. London: Routledge.

Liao, H., Zhang, Q., Yang, L. et al. (2023). Investigating relationships among regulated learning, teaching presence and student engagement in blended learning: An experience sampling analysis. Education and Information Technologies.

Tusyanah, T., Handoyo, E., Suryanto, E., Indira, F. R., & Mayasari, T. M. (2023). What affects students’ academic performance and soft skills based on the Community of Inquiry (CoI) Theory? International Journal of Technology in Education, 6(1), 49-68.

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca, Athabasca University Press.

Vaughan, N. D., Dell, D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R.(in press). Community of Inquiry: Seven principles of blended learning. Athabasca, Athabasca University Press.

Wilson, E., & Berge, Z. L. (2023). Educational Experience and Instructional Design Effectiveness Within the Community of Inquiry Framework. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 24(1),159-174.

Xue, J., Xu, X., Wu, Y., & Hu, P. (2023). Student perceptions of the community of inquiry framework and satisfaction: Examining the role of academic emotion and self-regulation in a structural model. Frontiers in Education, 8.

FA Triatmoko HS · 9 months ago
What tools do you suggest if we want to qualitatively know about the dynamics of shared metacognition? Compared with the CoI construct, it didn't have any indicators yet.
D. Randy Garrison · 9 months ago
Good point. I would strongly encourage you to take this on. I would be pleased to contribute where I can but I am retired and not in a position to initiate such a task.
FA Triatmoko HS · 8 months ago
Thank you for your response. Do you have any suggestions on where to start?
D. Randy Garrison · 8 months ago
Perhaps use other examples of indicators from the CoI elements?
To be more specific i would suggest using the questionnaire items to begin to generate corresponding indicators. Conversely we used indicators from each of the three elements to help generate CoI questionnaire items.
FA Triatmoko HS · 8 months ago
Will try to look into this. Thank you for the suggestion.


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


Community of Inquiry Research: Two Decades On
D. Randy Garrison
May 1, 2024
A decade after the publication of the seminal article describing the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000), we provided a personal perspective concerning its development and

New book: The Design of Digital Learning Environments: Online and Blended Applications of the Community of Inquiry
Stefan Stenbom
January 31, 2024

Shared Metacognition and the Emergence of AI
D. Randy Garrison
November 1, 2023
Artificial intelligence brings increasing attention to critical thinking and discourse. From an educational perspective, my rationale is that the community of inquiry framework, whose

Social Presence Reconsidered
D. Randy Garrison
October 3, 2023
My previous editorial addressed the generic nature of the CoI framework. Given the relevance and validity of the CoI framework in face-to-face settings, this editorial considers the

CoI Framework in Face-to-Face Environments
D. Randy Garrison
August 1, 2023
I think it is safe to say that the general perception of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework is that it is specific to an online or at best blended learning environment. The reality
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.