The Development of a Community of Inquiry Over Time in an Online Course: Understanding the Progression and Integration of Social, Cognitive and Teaching Presence

Zehra Akyol, Randy Garrison


The purpose of this study was to explore the dynamics of an online educational experience through the lens of the Community of Inquiry framework. Transcript analysis of online discussion postings and the Community of Inquiry survey were applied to understand the progression and integration of each of the Community of Inquiry presences. The results indicated a significant change in teaching and social presence categories over time. Moreover, survey results yielded significant relationships among teaching presence, cognitive presence and social presence, and students’ perceived learning and satisfaction in the course. The findings have important implications theoretically in terms of confirming the framework and practically by identifying the dynamics of each of the presences and their association with perceived learning and satisfaction.


Online Learning,Community of Inquiry,Social Presence,Cognitive Presence,Teaching Presence,Group Identity,CoI Survey,Negotiated Coding,Perceived Learning,Satisfaction

Full Text:



Aviv, R. Educational performance of ALN via content analysis. Asynchronous Learning Networks 4(2): 53–72, 2000.

Hara, N., C. J. Bonk & C. Angeli. Content analysis of online discussion in an applied educational psychology course. Instructional Science 28: 115–152, 2000.

Meyer, K. A. Face-to-face versus threaded discussions: The role of time and higher-order thinking. Asynchronous Learning Networks 7(3): 55–65, 2003.

Thomas, M. J. W. Learning within incoherent structures: the space of online discussion forums. Computer Assisted Learning 18(3): 351–366, 2002.

Wu, D. & S. R. Hiltz. Predicting learning from asynchronous online discussions. Asynchronous Learning Networks 8(2): 139–152, 2004.

Klemm, W. R. What’s wrong with on-line discussions and how to fix it. Paper presented at WebNet World Conference, ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 448 755, 2000.

Valle, R., S. Oncu, N. F. Koksal, P. Alford & T. M. Duffy. Effects of online cognitive facilitation on student learning. Paper presented at the annual meeting of Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Chicago, IL. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 484986, 2004.

Black, A. The use of asynchronous discussion: Creating a text of talk. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education 5(1): 5–24, 2005.

Knowlton, D., H. M. Knowlton & C. Davis. The whys and hows of online discussion. Syllabus 13(10): 54–56, 2000.

Northover, M. Online discussion boards — Friend or foe? Proceedings of Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 169–177, 2001.

Garrison, D. R., T. Anderson & W. Archer. Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education 15(1): 7–23, 2001.

Bell, P. On the theoretical breath of design-based research in education. Educational Psychologist 39(4): 243–253, 2004.

Wang, F. & M. J. Hannafin. Designed-based research and technology-enhanced learning environment. Educational Technology Research and Development 53(4): 5–23, 2005.

Brown, A. L. Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. Journal of the Learning Sciences 2(2): 141–178, 1992.

Collins, A. Toward a design science of education. In E. Scanlon & T. O’Shea (Eds), New directions in educational technology,15–22. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1992.

Joseph, D. The Practice of design-based research: Uncovering the Interplay between design, research, and the real-world context. Educational Psychologist 39(4): 235–242, 2004.

Sandoval, W. A. Developing learning theory by refining conjectures embodied in educational designs. Educational Psychologist 39(4): 213–223, 2004.

Sandoval, W. A. & P. Bell. Design-based research methods for studying learning in context: Introduction. Educational Psychologist 39(4): 199–201, 2004.

Garrison, D. R., T. Anderson & W. Archer. Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education 15(1): 7–23, 2001.

Garrison, D. R., T. Anderson & W. Archer. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. Internet and Higher Education, 2 (2-3), 87-105.

Hamman, B. Two voices: Social presence, participation, and credibility in online news. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Missouri-Columbia, 2006.

Bailey, Y. S. & V. H. Wright. Innovative uses of threaded discussion groups. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Mid South Educational Research Association, Bowling Green, KY. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 446 716, 2000.

King, K. P. Educators revitalize the classroom “Bulletin Board”: A Case study of the influence of online dialogue on face-to-face classes from an adult learning perspective. Research on Computing in Education 33(4): 337–355, 2001.

Rourke, L. & T. Anderson. Exploring social presence in computer conferencing. Interactive Learning Research 13(3): 257–273, 2002.

Biesenbach-Lucas, S. Asynchronous discussion groups in teacher training classes: perceptions of native and non-native students. Asynchronous Learning Networks 7(3): 24–46, 2003.

Jonnasen, D. H. Activity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development 47(1): 61–79, 1999.

Cole, M. & Y. Engestrom. A cultural-historical approach to distributed cognition. In G. Salomon (Ed.). Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Hung, W. L. & D. Chen. Situated cognition, Vygotskian thought, and learning from the communities of practice perspective: Implications for the design of web-based e-learning. Educational Media International 38(1): 3–12, 2001.

Lave, J. & E. Wenger. Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991.

Oliver, M. & G. P. Shaw. Asynchronous discussion in support of medical education. Asynchronous Learning Networks 7(1): 56–67, 2003.

Rovai, A. P. Building Sense of Community at a Distance. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 3(1): 2002.

Wenger, E. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1998.

Kreijns, K., P. A. Kirschner, & W. Jochems. Identifying the pitfalls for social interaction in computer-supported collaborative learning environments: a review of the research. Computers in Human Behavior 19(3): 335–353, 2003.

Bouwen, R. & T. Taillieu. Multi-party collaboration as social learning for interdependence: Developing relational knowing for sustainable natural resource management. Community & Applied Social Psychology 14(3): 137–153, 2004.

Klemm, W. R Eight ways to get students more engaged in online conferences. T.H.E Journal 26(1): 62–64, 1998.

Shaw, G. P. & W. Pieter. The use of asynchronous learning networks in nutrition education: Student attitude, experiences, and performance. Asynchronous Learning Networks 4(1): 40–51, 2000.

McLoughlin, C. & J. Luca. Cognitive engagement and higher order thinking through computer conferencing: We know why but do we know how? Flexible Futures in Tertiary Teaching. In A. Herrmann and M.M. Kulski (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9thAnnual Teaching Learning Forum. Perth: Curtin University of Technology, 2000.

Beaudin, B. P. Keeping online asynchronous discussions on topic. Asynchronous Learning Networks, 3(2): 41–53, 1999.

Webb, E., A. Jones, P. Barker & P. V. Schaik. Using e-learning dialogues in higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 41(1): 93–103, 2004.

William, S. & C. Pury. Student attitudes toward and participation in electronic discussion. International Journal of Educational Technology 3(1): 2002.

Goodell, J. & B. Yusko. Overcoming barriers to student participation in online discussions. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education 5(1): 77–92, 2005.

Collett, D., H. Kanuka, J. Blanchette & C. Goodale. Learning Technologies in Distance Education. Edmonton, AB: University of Alberta, 1999.

Angeli, C., N. Valanides & C. J. Bonk. Communication in a web-based conferencing system: The quality of computer-mediated interactions. British Journal of Educational Technology 34(1): 31–43, 2003.

Samuel, A. 10 ways to keep online dialogue on topic. Social Signal blog, 2005.

Vaughan, N. & D. R. Garrison. Creating cognitive presence in a blended faculty development community. Internet and Higher Education 8(1): 1–12, 2005.

Olszewski, L. Deep learning and cognitive presence in collaborative web-based learning environment: Student and instructor perspectives. Unpublished master’s thesis, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, 2006.

Poscente, K. R. & P. J. Fahy. Investigating triggers in CMC text transcripts. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 4(2): 2003. Retrieved September 30, 2006 from:

Lewis, K. G. Developing questioning skills. Center for Teaching Effectiveness, University of Texas at Austin, 2002.

Garrison, D. R., T. Anderson & W. Archer. Critical thinking, cognitive presence and computer conferencing in distance education. American Journal of Distance Education 15(1): 2001.

Jolivette, B. J. Social presence and its relevancy to cognitive and affective learning in an asynchronous distance-learning environment: A Preliminary literature review. Paper presented at the annual meeting of Academy of Human Resource Development International Research Conference, Columbus, Ohio, 2006.

Barab, S. & K. Squire. Design-based research: Putting a stake in the ground. The Journal of the Learning Sciences 13(1): 1-14, 2004.

Heflich, D. & L. Putney. Reflections of reality: Online conversation in a teacher education seminar. Intimacy and reflection, online conversation in a practicum seminar. Computing in Teacher Education 17(3): 10–17, 2001.

Henri, F. Computer conferencing and content analysis. In A.R. Kaye (Ed.), Collaborative Learning through Computer Conferencing: The Najaden Papers, 115–136. Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag, 1992.

Murray, B. Reinventing class discussion online, Internet and Psychology 31(4): 2000.