Fostering Cognitive Presence in Higher Education through the Authentic Design, Delivery, and Evaluation of an Online Learning Resource: A Mixed Methods Study
Douglas Archibald, University of Ottawa , Canada
University of Ottawa . Awarded
The impact of Internet technology on critical thinking is of growing interest among researchers. However, there still remains much to explore in terms of how critical thinking can be fostered through online environments for higher education. Ten years ago, Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000) published an article describing the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework which provided an outline of three core elements that were able to describe and measure a collaborative and positive educational experience in an online learning environment, namely teaching presence (design, facilitation, and direct instruction), social presence (the ability of learners to project themselves socially and emotionally), and cognitive presence (the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse).
This dissertation extends the body of research surrounding the CoI framework and also the literature on developing critical thinking in online environments by examining and exploring the extent to which teaching and social presence contribute to cognitive presence. The researcher was able to do this by offering 189 learners enrolled in 10 research methods courses and educational research courses an opportunity to use an innovative online resource (Research Design Learning Resource – RDLR) to assist them in learning about educational research and developing research proposals. By exploring how participants used this resource the researcher was able to gain insight into what factors contributed to a successful online learning experience and fostered cognitive presence.
Quantitative and qualitative research approaches (mixed methods) were used in this study. The quantitative results indicated that both social and teaching presence had a strong positive relationship with cognitive presence and that learners generally perceived to have a positive learning experience using the RDLR. The qualitative findings helped elaborate the significant quantitative results and were organised into the following themes: making connections, multiple perspectives, resource design, being a self-directed learner, learning strategies, learning preferences, and barriers to cognitive presence. Future directions for critical thinking in online environments are discussed.
Archibald, D. Fostering Cognitive Presence in Higher Education through the Authentic Design, Delivery, and Evaluation of an Online Learning Resource: A Mixed Methods Study. Ph.D. thesis, University of Ottawa.
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