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Community of inquiry: A useful model for examining educational interactions in online graduate education courses at Christian colleges

, George Fox University, United States

George Fox University . Awarded


Using the Community of Inquiry (COI) model as a framework, this case study analyzed the interactions of teacher and students in an online graduate level education course at a small Christian college in the Pacific Northwest. Using transcript content analysis, communication between participants was coded as either contributing to the social, cognitive, or teaching presence as defined by Garrison and Anderson (2007).

Although community and inquiry are two key principles of Christian higher education, there are other core values which these institutions desire to cultivate within their courses. Therefore, course communication was also coded for faith elements. Examples of these references to God, scripture, Christian perspective, or biblical worldview were dual coded to examine their compatibility with the COI framework. It was found that every occurrence of faith elements fit within the social and cognitive presences.

Students were also administered a questionnaire based on the COI survey instrument developed by Swan et al. (2008) and the definitions of social, cognitive, and teaching presences established by Garrison and Anderson (2007). Items measured participant perceptions of community development and its subsequent impact on course satisfaction. Results were compared to the data collected from the transcript content analysis coding.

Both transcript content analysis and questionnaire data indicate that social, cognitive, and teaching presences were all represented within course communication. However, the levels to which each presence was observed and the level to which it was perceived by the participants showed some incongruence, particularly with the social presence.

Although the COI framework serves as an adequate model for describing course communication, further study is needed to examine other course characteristics which may influence community development. The researcher suggests that the COI framework is appropriate for examining community development in an online graduate course at a small Christian college, but recommends that a modified framework be used at such faith based institutions in order to explicitly examine the faith elements. The researcher addresses the implications for the organization, design, implementation, and assessment of online courses and suggests that aspects of the COI framework are applicable to graduate courses taught in the face-to-face format as well.


Bartruff, E.A. Community of inquiry: A useful model for examining educational interactions in online graduate education courses at Christian colleges. Ph.D. thesis, George Fox University. Retrieved March 19, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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