Notes: Vaughan & Garrison: Creating cognitive presence in a blended faculty development community

Vaughan, N. & Garrison, D.R. (2005). [Creating cognitive presence in a blended faculty development community]( The Internet and Higher Education. 8(1). pp 1-12.

This study compares face-to-face and online discussions in a professional development course on blended learning. Specifically looking at the three forms of presence as defined as part of the community of inquiry model (but with an emphasis on how participants move through the 4 phases of the inquiry process (triggering event, exploration, integration and resolution) as part of their cognitive presence)

>Social presence creates a sense of belonging that supports meaningful inquiry. Social presence provides the context that makes possible critical discourse and reflection.

*DN: Would various platforms that may offer different tools to represent social presence effect the critical discourse? Same question for teaching presence and cognitive presence…*

on cognitive presence and blended learning:

>Rovai (2002)1 has shown a significant link between a sense of community and cognitive presence in that community can facilitate quality learning outcomes. However, this is not a simple and invariant relationship. In a study of informal professional development forums, Kanuka and Anderson (1998)2 found high interaction (i.e., social presence) but only a low level of cognitive exchange. Garrison and Cleveland-Innes (unpublished manuscript)3 also found that interaction by itself does not necessarily create cognitive presence. They also suggest that asynchronous online learning has considerable potential to create cognitive presence.


>Data were collected and transcribed from the transcripts of the online discussion forums, audio recordings of the face-to-face sessions, and a post-study interview with each participant. Online and face-to-face transcripts were coded for cognitive presence. The coding protocol from Garrison et al. (2000)4 community of inquiry model was used.

on analysis:

>The unit of analysis was a single message for the online discussion transcripts and a single participant response for the oral transcripts. Two trained graduate students completed the coding for cognitive presence and inter-rater reliability of the coding process was assessed.


>In a community of inquiry, it is essential that critical discourse be encouraged. Considering the reflective nature of online communication, there is a real opportunity to facilitate reflective critique. Because of the reflective potential, Meyer (2003)5 found that the threaded online discussion comments were “often more thoughtful, more reasoned, and drew evidence from other sources” than those made within the face-to-face sessions (p. 61).


>The results of this research raise many questions about blended learning designs in support of a community of inquiry. However, it can be concluded from the results reported here that blended learning was successful in supporting a faculty development community of inquiry. A worthy topic for further research would be to focus on high level learning processes and outcomes using blended learning designs.

  1. Rovai, A. P. (2002). Building a sense of community at a distance. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 3(1). Retrieved on July 21, 2004, from []
  2. Kanuka, H., & Anderson, T. (1998). Online social interchange, discord, and knowledge construction. Journal of Distance Education, 13(1), 57-75. []
  3. Garrison, D. R., Cleveland-Innes, M. (unpublished manuscript). Facilitating cognitive presence in online learning: Interaction is not enough. has this been published since 2005? []
  4. Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical thinking in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. Internet and Higher Education, 11(2), 1-14. Retrieved July 21, 2004, from []
  5. Meyer, K. A. (2003). Face-to-face versus threaded discussions: The role of time and higher-order thinking. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(3), 55-65. []