Exploring Causal Relationships Among Teaching, Cognitive and Social Presence in International Collaborative Seminars: Initial Findings Using the Community of Inquiry Survey

Helga Dorner
Central European University, Hungary


This paper discusses the causal relationships among the three presences in the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework that has been used extensively in the research and practice of online and blended learning. Relations among social, cognitive and teaching presence were explored in the context of a series of course redesign experiments (2012-2014) in higher education. The redesign experiments revolved around the transformation of regular in-person graduate seminars into ‘international collaborative seminars’ that involved two international groups of students at two simultaneous teaching sites linked through synchronous web-conferencing and asynchronous online work. With the CoI survey we tested the hypothesized causal relationships among the three presences. The results confirmed the relationship that teaching and social presence have a significant perceived influence on cognitive presence, but interestingly, teaching presence is perceived to influence social presence less than cognitive presence. These results underline the overarching importance of teaching presence in facilitating cognition in a formal online learning community however they also direct our attention to further exploring its role in the social dimensions of the instructional processes.

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