Facilitating Cognitive Presence Online: Perception and Design

Julie McCarroll, Peggy Hartwick


In this paper, we focus on perceived cognitive presence (CP) in three sections of an intermediate level English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course facilitated online. The researchers intend to demonstrate how lesson design, scaffolding, and a blend of synchronous and asynchronous delivery create perceived CP. Data was collected from the CoI survey (Arbaugh et al., 2008), administered to both student and instructor participants, as well as an analysis of the lesson plans. Focusing on the survey questions related to the four phases of CP, researchers assigned numerical values to responses reported by participants (cf. Arbaugh et al., 2008). Student participants consistently reported lower levels of CP than teachers in the triggering event and exploration phases. Student participants in two of the three sections also reported lower levels of the integration and resolution phases than the teacher, but students in the third section reported higher levels. Moreover, student-reported experiences of CP in all four phases, except the exploration phase, increased with each iteration of the lesson plan. In addition, we analyze the weekly lesson plans in relation to the four phases of CP. Results demonstrate the relationship between lesson plans and perceived CP and will help to inform best practices in online learning contexts.  


Community of Inquiry (CoI), English for Academic Purposes (EAP), cognitive presence (CP), CoI survey, lesson plans, triggering event, exploration, integration, resolution, online learning

Full Text:



Akyol, Z., & Garrison, D. R. (2008). The development of a community of inquiry over time in an online course: Understanding the progression and integration of social, cognitive and teaching presence. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 12(3), 3-22.

Anderson, T., Archer, W., Garrison, D. R., & Rourke, L. (1999). Assessing social presence in asynchronous text-based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14(2), 50-71.

Arbaugh, J. B., Cleveland-Innes, M., Diaz, S., Garrison, D. R., Ice, P., Richardson, J., Shea, P., & Swan, K. (2008). Developing a community of inquiry instrument: Testing a measure of the Community of Inquiry framework using a multi-institutional sample. Internet and Higher Education, 11, 133-136.

Bangert, A. (2008). The influence of social and teaching presence on the quality of online critical inquiry. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 20(1), 34-61.

Bonk, C.J., Kim, K-J., & Zeng, T. (2005). Future directions of blended learning in higher education and workplace learning settings, 550-567. https://publicationshare.com/c39-Bonk,-Kim,-and-Zeng-on-Future-Directions-Bonk,-Kim,-and-Zeng-updated.pdf

Chaiklin, S. & Lave, J. (Eds.) (1996). Understanding practice: Perspectives on activity and context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Choo, J., Bakir, N., Scagnoli, N. I., Boreum, J., & Tong, X. (2020). Using the Community of Inquiry framework to understand students’ learning experience in online undergraduate business courses. TechTrends, 64, 172-181.

Corrigan, D. (2019). St. Louis group pushes back over privacy and health concerns of the 5G industrial revolution. Gateway Journalism Review, 48(355).

Dede, C. (2010). Comparing frameworks for 21st century skills. In J. Bellanca & R. Brandt (Eds.), 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn (pp. 51–76). Solution Tree Press.

Dewey, J. (1896). The reflex arc concept in psychology. Psychological Review, 3, 357–370.

Demystifying Medicine. (2020, February 18). The fluidity of telesurgery [Video]. YouTube. ¬-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWOuNC12IaI

Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-Learning in the 21st century: A Community of Inquiry framework for research and practice (3rd edition). Routledge.

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

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

Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. B. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. The Internet and Higher Education, 10(3), 157-172).

Garrison, D. R., & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2005). Facilitating cognitive presence in online learning: Interaction is not enough. American Journal of Distance Education, 19(3), 133-148.

Hartwick, P. L. (2018). Exploring the affordances of online learning environments: 3DVLES and ePortfolios in second language learning and teaching. [Doctoral dissertation, Carleton University]. https://doi.org/10.22215/etd/2018-13270

Hartwick, P., & Fox, J. (Forthcoming). Social theories and transdisciplinarity: Reflections on the learning potential of three technologically mediated learning spaces. In J. Fox & N. Artemeva (Eds.), Reconsidering context in language assessment: Transdisciplinary perspectives, social theories, and validity. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kanuka, H., & Garrison, D. R. (2004). Cognitive presence in online learning. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 15(2), 21-39.

Lantolf, J. P., & Thorne, S. L. (2007). Sociocultural theory and the genesis of second language development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lave, J. (1996). The practice of learning. In S. Chaiklin & J. Lave (Eds.), Understanding practice: Perspectives on activity and context, (pp. 3-31). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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

Noteboom, J. T., & Claywell, L. (2010). Student perceptions of cognitive, social, and teaching presence. In 26th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning, USA.

Oriogun, P. K., Ravenscroft, A., & Cook, J. (2005). Validating an approach to examining cognitive engagement within online groups. The American Journal of Distance Education, 19(4), 197-214.

Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001) Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: A user’s guide. Palgrave Macmillan.

van Lier, L. (2000). From input to affordance: Social-interactive learning from an ecological perspective. In J. R. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second language learning (pp. 245-259). Oxford University Press.

Vaughan, N. D. (2010). A blended community of inquiry approach: Linking student engagements and course redesign. Internet and Higher Education 13, 60-65.

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

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

Vygotsky, L. S. (2012). Thought and Language (pp. 13-59). The MIT Press. Original work published in 1934.

Weigel, V. B. (2002). Deep learning for a digital age: Technology’s untapped potential to enrich higher education. Jossey-Bass.

Zhang, Y., & Pickwell-Macpherson, E. (2019). Editorial: 5G-based mHealth bringing healthcare convergence to reality. IEEE Reviews in Biomedical Engineering, 12, 2–3.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v26i2.3056

Copyright (c) 2022 Julie McCarroll, Peggy Hartwick

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/