COI and Critical Inquiry

Community of Inquiry COI.png

Strategies to enable an online discussion that promotes a Community of Inquiry Model

  • Choose and design the online learning environment; choose the asynchronous and synchronous communication tools to be used for discussions
  • Select activities and provide access to content that will form the basis of discussions
  • Guide, model and support discussion and promote learner lead discussion
  • Allow for learner to learner communication, collaboration and content creation
  • Strategies for raising cognitive presence and encouraging critical thinking
  • To summarize, the critical inquiry model relies on the design of learning environment and the choice of content and communication tools and the facilitation, guiding, modelling and shaping of discussions.

These two key points can be further detailed as:

  • Provide access to content and allow for more time with content to allow for greater understanding and time for reflection (Pelz, 2004)
  • Coach, guide, support, and shape and model discussions to promote “deeper, more intellectual, and reflective learning” (MacKnight, 2000) and allow learners to lead the discussion and present content
  • Provide goals for activities
  • Organize learners into small groups
  • Provide asynchronous, online communication and presentation tools to allow for learner collaboration to allow for an “active exchange of ideas”(MacKnight), sharing and time for reflection
  • Ask the right questions that “generate more questions” (MacKnight, 2000), to promote critical inquiry and “model thinking”(MacKnight, 2000) for learners to allow for student led learning

To Pelz’s cardinal rules for discussion forums I would add from MacKnight:

  • Ask the right questions that “generate more questions” (MacKnight, 2000), to promote critical inquiry and “model thinking”(MacKnight) for learners to allow for student led learning
  • Provide examples of “exemplar questions” (MacKnight, 2000) and coaching to “markedly enhance” (King) their learning


Chickering, A. W., Zelda F. Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. Retrieved from:

Swan, K., Garrison, D. R. & Richardson, J. C. (2009).  In Payne, C. R. (Ed.), Information Technology and Constructivism in Higher Education: Progressive Learning Frameworks. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 43-57. Retrieved from:

MacKnight, C. B. (2000). Teaching critical thinking through online discussions. Retrieved from: Teaching critical thinking through online discussions

Pelz, B. (2004). (My) Three Principles Of Effective Online Pedagogy. Retrieved from:


About jhounslow

Soccer enthusiast, cyclist, web developer, e-learning professional, educator, husband to a graduate student, and father of four daughters.
This entry was posted in Community of Inquiry (COI), Critical Inquiry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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