We all want our students to be cognitively engaged in our courses. We want them to think critically, have a deep understanding of the topic and reflect about their own learning. But, how can we achieve this?
Previous research has found that successful online courses create a community of learners with a safe space for discourse so they can achieve common purposes and inquiry (Garrison, 2007). In such environments, students feel comfortable and stimulated to be intellectually involved.
In the literature, this has been referred to as a community of inquiry. The video below presents a brief overview of this topic and of the community of inquiry framework for online learning, which is also presented in a figure below.
In the community of inquiry framework, cognitive presence intersects with both social and teaching presence. From my brief readings on this topic so far, here is what I gathered we can do to foster cognitive presence in these two overlaps, and that I hope to focus on when developing the online subject as part of my “Facilitating online learning” assignment:
Apparently, open communication does not naturally progress to an academic relationship, in which students begin to collaborate and solve problems together. This needs to be fostered through collaborative activities that promote a sense of purpose. Basically, having a discussion board open and expect students to magically start collaborating does not happen. Frequent, purposeful and quality interactions should be part of the learning design of a subject.
Another false expectation is that students will regulate their own learning. By this I mean that they will plan, monitor, adapt and reflect about their own learning experience. We may expect to see such skills on graduate students, but not so much in first year undergraduate ones. The approach to this issue is two-fold: the teacher can help the student to regulate their learning (co-regulation), while explicitly modelling the process to assist in the students’ development of their own set of regulated learning skills (self-regulation). Examples of support of regulated learning include clarifying task details, being more directive during assignments, proposing the use of learning strategies and assisting with movement through tasks.
(P.S. Self-regulated learning is one of the main topics of my research, so I’m really looking forward to putting my knowledge into practice.)
(P.P.S. I noticed that early versions of the framework had this intersection named “Selecting content”. I’m curious to know more about this change!)
Garrison, D R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 61-72. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ842688
Garrison, D. R. (2011). E-Learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice (2nd ed.). London, UK: Routledge/Taylor and Francis.