Critical Thinking in Online Educational Discussions Measured as Progress through Inquiry Phases: A Discussion of the Cognitive Presence Construct in the Community of Inquiry Framework
The development of critical thinking is a rationale for higher education and an important aspect of online educational discussions. A key component in most accounts of critical thinking is to evaluate the tenability of claims. The community of inquiry framework is among the most influential frameworks for research on online educational discussions. In this framework, cognitive presence accounts for critical thinking as progress through the following phases of inquiry: triggering event, exploration, integration, and solution. This article discusses the cognitive presence construct as a tool for measuring critical thinking. The article traces the philosophical inspirations of the community of inquiry framework and discusses the construct validity of the cognitive presence construct. Empirical findings enabled by the framework are briefly reviewed and discussed. The author argues that since the cognitive presence construct only to a limited degree addresses the discussants’ evaluation of a claim’s tenability, the construct possesses weaknesses for assessing critical thinking in discussions. In making this claim, the article contributes to methodological and theoretical discussions about research on critical thinking in online educational discussions.