Teaching, Social, and Cognitive Presence in Written Conversation: An Exploration of Online Graduate Communities of Inquiry
Wery, Ronda L.
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In the twenty-first century, more than ever before, businesses, institutions, and societies as a whole need good communicators, capable collaborators, and effective problem solvers in order to thrive. Rapid changes in communication technologies have sparked a re-examination of the university’s role within networked society. Increasing demand for online learning ignites disputes among researchers, teachers, students, parents, administrators, and financially powerful constituents outside the field of education. In an era of accountability to a wider range of audiences than ever before, this dissertation suggests means by which educators can adapt messages about learning to better reach these audiences—through the language of research. To avoid having the quality of online learning evaluated based only upon that which is easily measured, online teachers and learners alike need an empirical means to capture and explain complex processes within the larger e-learning ecology. This study employs the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework as a lens for viewing and analyzing the content of synchronous and asynchronous online graduate-level discussions. In doing so, it explores research questions concerning students’ agency for collaborative inquiry. Findings problematize the perennial dichotomy of academic rigor versus student engagement, suggesting that social elements in the learning process may promote cognitive presence more than previously realized.