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The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements: social, cognitive and teaching presence.


From Rourke et al., 2001:

Social presence is the ability of learners to project their personal characteristics into the community of inquiry, thereby presenting themselves as ‘real people.’

Instructional media such as computer conferencing engender high levels of student-student and student-teacher interaction; therefore, they can support models of teaching and learning that are highly interactive and consonant with the communicative ideals of university education. This potential, and the ubiquity of computer conferencing in higher education prompted three of the authors of the present paper to develop a Community of Inquiry model that synthesizes pedagogical principles with the inherent instructional and access benefits of computer conferencing (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). The present article explicates one element of the model, social presence. Social presence is defined as the ability of learners to project themselves socially and affectively into a community of inquiry. A template for assessing social presence in computer conferencing is presented, through content analysis of conferencing transcripts. To facilitate explication of the scheme and subsequent replication of this study, selections of coded transcripts are included, along with inter-rater reliability figures. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications and benefits of assessing social presence for instructors, conference moderators, and researchers.


From Garrison et al., 2001:

Cognitive presence is the extent to which the participants in any particular configuration of a community of inquiry are able to construct meaning through sustained communication.

The purpose of this paper is to describe a practical approach to judging the nature and quality of critical discourse in a computer conference. A model of a critical community of inquiry frames the research. A core concept in defining a community of inquiry is cognitive presence. In turn, the practical inquiry model operationalizes cognitive presence for the purpose of developing a tool to assess critical discourse and reflection. Encouraging empirical findings related to an attempt to create an efficient and reliable instrument to assess the nature and quality of critical discourse and thinking in a text-based educational context are presented. Finally, it is suggested that cognitive presence (i.e., critical, practical inquiry) can be created and supported in a computer conference environment with appropriate teaching and social presence.


From Garrison et al., 2001:

Teaching presence is defined as the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educational worthwhile learning outcomes.

This paper reviews the tasks of the online teacher, gleaned from the literature and our own experiences as teachers of graduate level, online courses. It next introduces a technique for systematically analyzing the context of the text-based transcripts of those courses. We seek knowledge hidden in the data from the actual interactions between and among students and on-line teachers as they develop, facilitate, guide and evaluate learning activities. Our goal is to develop tools that are efficient, reliable, and practical in the task of helping teachers both understand and improve their on-line teaching. We examine messages for their contribution to three critical functions of the online (and classroom) teacher – designing and administrating learning activities, establishing and and maintaining an active learning community, and providing direct instruction. We hope our tools allow teachers to assess their own postings and serve as valued feedback for reflection and improvement of the teaching function. Secondly, the tools can be used for research to test hypothesis or diagnose problems in on-line teaching. We conclude with the results of our analysis of the transcripts from two graduate level teaching courses.


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Key references available as a downloadable file below have been compiled by Dr. Randy Garrison as an effective reading list for the Community of Inquiry framework. (Updated September 2021)


D. Randy Garrison on Cognitive Presence Update
5 months ago
The easy answer is that they cannot be easily separated; they overlap in the Venn diagram. According to the diagram and theory, each can have differing influence on the educational experience (dependent variable however it is defined). Off the top I suppose that the correlation among the presences will depend on the ...

FA Triatmoko HS on Cognitive Presence Update
5 months ago
Do you think that the 3 elements of CoI need to be explained in model which explain the correlation or causality? For examples, whether CP is as a dependent variable for TP and SP. Or is it that CP, TP and SP cannot be separated in ...

FA Triatmoko HS on CoI Effectiveness and Future Development
5 months ago
Will try to look into this. Thank you for the suggestion.

D. Randy Garrison on CoI Effectiveness and Future Development
5 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 ...

FA Triatmoko HS on CoI Effectiveness and Future Development
5 months ago
Thank you for your response. Do you have any suggestions on where to start?

D. Randy Garrison on The CoI Community
6 months ago
Hi Audrey, Although I had researched self-directed/regulated learning early in my career, it was a research project by another scholar that suggested integrating a self-directed learning element into the CoI framework that precipitated our work on self and co-regulation. I found a couple of fundamental issues with ...

D. Randy Garrison on CoI Effectiveness and Future Development
6 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. DRG

Audrey on The CoI Community
6 months ago
I'm interested in the evolution of the framework and the changes it's undergone from its first inception in 2000 to how it was illustrated in the third edition of E-Learning in the 21st Century (2017). Specifically the addition of the outermost circle and the shift from "selected content" to "regulated learning". Are ...

FA Triatmoko HS on CoI Effectiveness and Future Development
6 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.

FA Triatmoko HS on The CoI Community
6 months ago
Greetings from Indonesia! My name is Triatmoko. I'm a Ph.D. student at Universitas Indonesia. I've known the CoI framework for quite some time. My master's thesis uses CoI as a basis for intervention, to support higher education student's critical thinking development. I hope to study more about CoI for my Ph.D ...
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.