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Providing articles and links to sources that can be found in the library rather than having students

find the source themselves may curtail the exploration phase and students’ ability to critically

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examine the literature for the most relevant information. Students who seek resources for

themselves increase their information technology skills. At the same time, it is important for faculty

to remember the importance of scaffolding information and skills to increase the students’

competence in finding, assessing, and using relevant information. Table 9-2 provides teaching

suggestions to facilitate active learning.




The faculty role is critical in setting up opportunities for students to do the work of developing the

skills needed to solve problems and address other issues related to nursing practice. It is an inquiry-

based approach in which students take responsibility for identifying what they need to know and

finding resources.






Develop a Community of Learners

Online educators need to develop a community of learners in which active participation between

and among learners and faculty can occur. Creating a sense of community that is based on a

common purpose is of particular importance to overcome the sense of isolation that can occur for

online students. The students need to interact with faculty members, peers, and course content.

These three types of interactions function in an interdependent manner because they each

potentially contribute to and benefit from each other (Shackelford & Maxwell, 2012). There have

been a number of studies supporting that a sense of community can be created online and is

significantly associated with perceived learning, especially when there is a strong faculty teaching

presence (Garrison, 2007; Harasim, 2017; Shea, 2006).


As faculty working with postlicensure students, we see ourselves as learners as well within the

community of learners using the collaborative process. Collaboration is a key principle of social

constructivism. Faculty need to be able to differentiate between cooperation and collaboration in

teaching and guide students in moving from cooperative work to collaborative work (Breen, 2013).

This means that students are encouraged by faculty, in purposeful ways, to share alternative

viewpoints and challenge new ideas. This can be done by assigning individual research to address a

specific topic, with the results shared with the class or small group, followed by collaborative


Community of Inquiry

A common framework used for online learning, teaching, and research is the community of inquiry

(CoI) model depicted in Figure 9-1. It incorporates three types of interaction and was developed by

Randy Garrison, Terry Anderson, and Walter Archer from 1999 to 2001 (Anderson, 2018). The CoI

model has three elements: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence (Anderson,

2018). In the past two decades, it has been a commonly cited model for online educational research

(Bozkurt et al., 2015). The three elements are described separately; however, they interact

interdependently for educational purposes (Garrison, 2007)



Figure 9-1 Community of inquiry model


Data from Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 1999



Social Presence

Social presence refers to the students being connected to each other in a meaningful way that builds

trust. This trust is necessary in order for students to share their different perceptions, ideas, and

feelings without the fear of being judged. Social presence often starts with students posting a

picture in their student profile and an introductory discussion. This introduction can set the stage for

building a community of learners by purposively thinking through what students should be asked to

share. For example, students in a class with prelicensure students may be asked to share where they

are in their educational journey, whereas students in a first-year postlicensure or graduate-level

class may be asked to share when they became registered nurses (RNs) and what area of nursing

they work in. This sets the stage for students to discover what they have in common and things they

may want to learn from others. Sharing about their families, pets, and what they like to do for fun

also builds community by allowing students to see each other as “real” people.


Faculty also begin to develop a strong social presence with their students by having a written or

video introduction in which they not only share why they are teaching the course but also their own

educational journey and their teaching style. Faculty introductions should also welcome the students

to the class with enthusiasm and make it evident that they care about their students and their

success. This can be done by including when and how students can connect with them in realtime

and how soon they can expect a response to a question. It is also very important for faculty to

welcome each student by individually acknowledging something that they shared in the introductory

discussion and to encourage students to welcome each other.


Social presence goes beyond the introduction and is woven throughout the course, with the purpose

of meeting educational objectives (Shea, 2006). In keeping with constructivist pedagogy, students

are encouraged to incorporate their professional and personal experiences, with specific examples,

to apply learning, which not only establishes cognitive presence but also further establishes a social

and emotional connection. Open communication and collaborative discussions are hallmarks of

social presence (Garrison, 2007).


Cognitive Presence

Cognitive presence is defined by Garrison (2007) as “exploration, construction, resolution and

confirmation of understanding through collaboration and reflection in a community of inquiry” (p.

65). The CoI model is based on the practical inquiry model (PIM), which describes four levels of

cognitive presence that can be observed in students’ online discussion postings. These levels of

cognitive presence, as described by Sadaf and Olesova (2017), are as follows:


Triggering as students become aware of a problem through initiating the inquiry process

Exploration, which refers to students exploring a problem by searching for relevant information and

attempts to explain

Integration as students interpret or construct possible solutions



Resolution, which refers to students applying or defending possible solutions with new thoughts or


The triggering and exploration phases exemplify low levels of cognitive presence, whereas engaging

in integration and resolution allows students to build on each other’s ideas and synthesize

information to provide solutions. These phases are not linear; students may move back to previous

phases before reaching resolution (Swan, Garrison, & Richardson, 2009). Garrison, Anderson, and

Archer (2010) noted that several studies found that moving through the process of inquiry to

completion was challenging, and discussions often did not move past the exploration phase. Moving

through the inquiry process to completion was found to be directly related to the role of faculty in

facilitating student learning through triggering questions, effective assessment, and pushing

students to go beyond observing and sharing.


Before moving to teaching presence, we want to recognize that different theories and models

illustrate similar ways of understanding how knowledge is constructed. For example, Harasim’s

(2017) online collaborativist theory identifies that three phases—idea generating, idea organizing,

and intellectual convergence—lead to knowledge building and application. Adult learning theory

helps us prioritize understanding students’ motivations for learning. Theoretical pedagogy is critical

in guiding faculty members to intentionally connect theory to their teaching practice. The bottom-

line question for us is the following: How do we facilitate and motivate students to engage with the

course content, relevant outside research, their peers, and faculty to construct knowledge and apply

it to nursing practice?


As a result, we define cognitive presence as the ability of a community of learners in an online

classroom to construct meaning through engaging with the course content, outside research,

individual reflection, and collaborative reflection to explicitly take into account the individual work

that also needs to be done in conjunction with the collaborative work.


Teaching Presence

Teaching presence includes the planning that goes into course design, as discussed in Chapter 8, and

what is done when interacting with students through facilitation and direct instruction. How the

course is designed facilitates discussions and provides direct instruction to establish teaching

presence. Numerous studies confirm the importance of teaching presence for successful online

learning in relation to student satisfaction, perceived learning, and sense of community (Garrison,

2007). Without an active teaching presence, the higher levels of cognitive presence are rarely

developed (Garrison et al., 2010)


There is overlap between social and cognitive presence. Social presence is enhanced by building

positive relationships with students by being open, approachable, respectful, and patient. A sense of

belonging is enhanced by addressing students by name, encouraging participation, and recognizing

progress and achievement. Not only do these efforts made by faculty promote social presence, they

are also motivators to promote student persistence (Boston et al., 2009; Stavredes, 2011). Cognitive

presence can be enhanced when faculty members promote a sense of purpose by monitoring



student performance on a regular basis, being engaged in the discussions, and providing

constructive and timely feedback that encourages professional growth as students grapple with

complex topics.

The Learner in the Community of Inquiry Model

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