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An Empirical Verification of the Community of Inquiry Framework
Arbaugh, J. B.

PublishedApril 2007
JournalJournal of Asynchronous Learning Networks
Volume 11, Issue 1, Pages 73-85
CountryUnited States, North America

The purpose of this paper is to report on the results of a study that examines whether the Community of Inquiry (CoI) dimensions of social, teaching, and cognitive presence distinctively exist in e-learning environments. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. First, the author will briefly review recent studies on the dimensions of this framework: social, cognitive, and teaching presence. Second, the author discusses the development of the sample of MBA students in online courses over a two-year period at a Midwestern U.S. university and the items used to measure the CoI dimensions. Next, the author will describe the results of an exploratory factor analysis, including an interpretation of the emerging factors. Finally, the author will discuss how these findings relate to conclusions presented in Garrison's review of recent research related to the CoI and present some possible directions for future research. (Contains 2 tables.)

Keywords factor analysis · business administration education · graduate students · community · inquiry · interpersonal relationship · teacher role · discourse analysis · group dynamics · social environment · cognitive processes · online courses · computer mediated communication · educational technology · internet · electronic learning

CoI focusFull model
Study designQuestionnaire
Data analysisExploratory factor analysis
InstrumentCoI survey
Sample size667
Study aim"To report on the results of a study that examines whether the CoI dimensions of social, teaching and cognitive presence distinctively exist in e-learning environments."
Finding"This article reported on an empirical verification of the elements of the CoI framework, which found empirically distinct measures of social, cognitive, and teaching presence. The results of the study strongly support Garrison’s conclusion that CoI research now needs to move beyond exploratory descriptive studies to the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods."
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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.