A Case Study of Community of Inquiry Presences and Cognitive Load in Asynchronous Online STEM Courses

Emily Kaye Faulconer, Darryl Chamberlain, Beverly L Wood


The design and facilitation of asynchronous online courses can have notable impacts on students related to persistence, performance, and perspectives. This case study presents current conditions for cognitive load and Community of Inquiry (CoI) presences in an asynchronous online introductory undergraduate STEM course. Researchers present the novel use of Python script to clean and organize data and a simplification of the instructional efficiency calculation for use of anonymous data. Key relationships between cognitive load and CoI presences are found through validated use of NASA-TLX instrument and transcript analysis of discussion posts. The data show that student presences are not consistent throughout a course but are consistent across sections. Instructor presences are not consistent throughout a course or across sections. The study also explored predominant factors within each presence, confirming previous reports of low cognitive presence in discussions. The highest extraneous cognitive load was reported for understanding expectations and preparing an initial post. These results provide support for improvements to course design and instructor professional development to promote Community of Inquiry and reduce extraneous cognitive load.  



cognitive load, online courses, instructional design, community of inquiry

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v26i3.3386

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