Perceived and Actual Cognitive Presence: A Case Study of an Intentionally-Designed Asynchronous Online Course

Gamze Ozogul, Meina Zhu, Tanner M. Phillips


Online instructional design and how to engage students cognitively in online asynchronous courses have been an ongoing question. This case study presents an intentional design of an asynchronous online graduate course to foster cognitive presence. The research questions investigate students’ cognitive presence (CP) captured by two measures: Community of Inquiry (CoI) survey (for self-report) and Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software (for actual behaviors) in this online course. Additionally, it also addresses how cognitive presence is related to other presences and how the online course design elements were perceived by students. Results showed that students perceived high levels of cognitive presence and they showed high cognitive presence in their discussion board acts. There was a relationship between three presences; and findings showed that teacher and social presence were strong predictors of perceived cognitive presence. Although students in the study rated themselves high on the CoI instrument and scored high on the LIWC for cognitive presence, self-presentation bias still emerged. Strategies that helped students to stay cognitively present in this asynchronous online course included: instructor responsiveness in discussion posts and creating dialogue, creating course assignments as online hands-on project, interviewing guest speakers on specific course topics, weekly recap and orientation videos, feedback, case-based discussions, and other elements.


Cognitive presence, Asynchronous, Online, LIWC

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