Critical thinking- Communication of Inquiry paper
In the United States, 4.6 million students took at least one online course during fall
2008, a 17% increase from the previous year. US schools offering these courses have
seen increases in demand for e-learning options, with 66% and 73% of responding
schools reporting increased demand for new and existing online course offerings,
respectively (Allen and Seaman 2010 ) .

Indeed, online learning, at least at the higher
education level, has advanced from an interesting experiment to “the new normal”
(Davidson and Goldberg 2009 ) in a relatively short amount of time. Moreover, indications
are that online learning is more engaging than face-to-face learning and that
students learn more online as a result. The National Survey of Student Engagement
(NSSE 2009 ) , which in 2008 tested technology questions with 31,000 students at 58
institutions, for example, found signifi cant positive correlations between the use of
course management systems and high-tech communications in college courses and
J. C. Richardson, Ph.D (*)
College of Education, Purdue University , West Lafayette , IN , USA
J. B. Arbaugh, Ph.D
College of Business, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh , Oshkosh , WI , USA
M. Cleveland-Innes, Ph.D
Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University , Athabasca , AB , Canada
P. Ice, Ed.D
American Public University System , Charles Town , WV , USA
K. P. Swan, Ph.D
Center for Online Learning, Research and Teaching, University of Illinois Springfi eld ,
Springfi eld , IL , USA
D. R. Garrison, Ed.D
University of Calgary , Calgary , AB , Canada
Using the Community of Inquiry Framework
to Inform Effective Instructional Design
Jennifer C. Richardson , J. Ben Arbaugh , Martha Cleveland-Innes ,
Philip Ice , Karen P. Swan , and D. Randy Garrison
98 J.C. Richardson et al.
all the NSSE engagement indicators. In addition, a recent meta-analysis of empirical
studies comparing online and face-to-face learning commissioned by the US
Department of Education (Means et al. 2009 ) revealed that students who took part or
all of their classes online outperformed colleagues who took solely face-to-face
classes. The authors of this study report that their fi ndings hold across variations in
students, institutions, implementations, and disciplines.
Clearly, online learning deserves more serious and more rigorous study. While
researchers have been relatively successful in identifying the properties of successful
online learning environments (Aragon 2003 ; Cleveland-Innes, Garrison &
Kinsel 2007 ) , a more in-depth analysis requires a theoretical framework that illuminates
the complexities of online learning. One model that has gained a good deal of
attention is the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework developed by Garrison et al.
( 2000 ) . The CoI framework is a collaborative constructivist model of online learning
processes that can inform both research and practice. It assumes that effective
online learning requires the development of a learning community (Rovai 2002 ;
Shea 2006 ; Thompson and MacDonald 2005 ) which supports the meaningful
inquiry and deep learning that is the hallmark of higher education (Dewey 1938 ) .
The CoI framework views the online learning experience as a function of the
relationship between three elements: social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive
presence (see Fig. 1 ). The term “presence” was deliberately chosen to distinguish
the CoI framework from Moore’s ( 1989 ) “interactions” which involve
particular actors. In the CoI model, the presences are viewed more as functions that
are shared among the instructor, students, and course materials. Social presence
refers to the development of an online environment in which participants feel