Cognitive Presence in Virtual Learning Community: An EFL Case

By Alavi, Sayyed Mohammad; Taghizadeh, Mahboubeh | Journal of Distance Education (Online), January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Cognitive Presence in Virtual Learning Community: An EFL Case


Alavi, Sayyed Mohammad, Taghizadeh, Mahboubeh, Journal of Distance Education (Online)


Abstract

This study aimed to investigate the existence of cognitive presence as one of the elements of the Community of Inquiry framework in virtual centers for undergraduate students of science and technology. To achieve the purpose of this study, first a questionnaire was uniquely developed on the basis of the suggestions made in the literature reviewing the indicators of cognitive element. The questionnaire was then administered to undergraduate students (N = 107) who were studying a technical or a technological course in the Iran University of Science and Technology and Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology. Analysis of the questionnaire data showed that (a) the Exploration and Resolution categories appeared more frequently than others in the virtual centers of this study and (b) the indicators of Divergence, Information Exchange, and Applying New Ideas were hierarchically frequent. In order to promote and sustain cognitive presence, this study recommends that virtual language educators incorporate the indicators of cognitive presence into the online learning environment.

Résumé

Cette étude visait à examiner l'existence de la présence cognitive comme l'un des éléments du cadre de référence sur le Community of Inquiry (Col) dans les centres virtuels pour des étudiants de premier cycle en sciences et technologie. Tout d'abord, pour atteindre l'objectif de cette étude, un questionnaire a été particulièrement bien développé sur la base des propositions faites dans la littérature en examinant les indicateurs d'élément cognitif. Ensuite, le questionnaire a été administré aux étudiants de premier cycle (Ν = 107) qui étudiaient un cours technique ou technologique à l'Iran University of Science and Technology et à Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology. L'analyse des données du questionnaire a montré que (a) considérant les catégories, l'Exploration et la Résolution sont apparues plus fréquemment que d'autres dans les centres virtuels de cette étude, et (b) les indicateurs de Divergence, d'Échange d'informations et d'Application de nouvelles idées ont été fréquentes hiérarchiquement. Afin de promouvoir et soutenir la présence cognitive, cette étude encourage les éducateurs en langage virtuel d'intégrer les indicateurs de la présence cognitive dans l'environnement d'apprentissage en ligne.

Introduction

The future of education, as Garrison and Anderson (2003) argue, is e-learning. ?-learning, by its nature, tends to transform teaching and learning in different educational contexts, especially in higher education, and, in times of fundamental educational changes, successful transformation depends not only on strategic development but also on sound theoretical and conceptual bases. To keep up with technological development, some universities and virtual centers in Iran have decided to make substantial investments in e-learning and have started to use e-learning methods as an alternative approach to their traditional classroom methods. Since running e-learning courses require educators to be equipped with appropriate knowledge and expertise, one assumption was that traditional classroom strategies were mainly utilized in e-learning-based courses in the virtual centers of this study, since relatively little training was offered to run e-learning courses. In order to prevent such misplaced practices, educators and e-learning course designers attempted to employ theoretical and practical frameworks for online courses. The frameworks available, however, need to be evaluated before their formal implementation in any e-learning courses. In this study, the Community of Inquiry (Col) framework suggested by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000) was employed.

It appears that the Col can be useful in this study for the following five reasons: (1) it represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience (Garrison & Akyol, 2013; Rourke & Kanuka, 2009); (2) it gives online theorists and researchers a useful schema through which to conceptualize the complex interaction of online learners' learning processes (Conrad, 2009); (3) it outlines the behaviors and processes required to enable knowledge construction in asynchronous online environments through the development of various forms of "presence" (Shea & Bidjerano, 2010); (4) it has become a prominent model of teaching and learning in online and blended learning environments (Akyol, et al. …

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