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Cognitive Presence

Cognitive presence relates to the design and development of instructional materials, enabling students to construct and confirm meaning through related reflection and discourse (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000).

The key elements of cognitive presence are the goals established for the learners and the methods used to achieve those goals through interaction and communication. Perhaps the most difficult of the three CoI presences to grasp, cognitive presence relates to how students move through the learning process – approaching problems, seeking out new knowledge, gaining new levels of understanding, and sharing that understanding with the learning community. The goal is to have our students integrate key concepts from the classroom into their own worlds, explore associated resources, and bring new knowledge and new ideas into the learning process.

Cognitive presence focuses on providing students with the means to move past the early stages of learning – where all is questioned and confusion thrives – to the stage where learning has meaning and where students can understand and apply new concepts.

Examples include

  • Connecting ideas;
  • Applying new ideas;
  • Setting the curriculum;
  • Setting the climate for learning;
  • Injecting knowledge from diverse sources.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.