Critical Inquiry in a Text-based Environment

Critical Inquiry in a Text-based Environment by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer explained the potential to develop critical thinking in an online environment (computer conferencing) that’s asynchronous and text-based. This can be done when combining the three elements: cognitive presence, social presence, teaching presence. I found the authors’ template of cognitive presence to be the most interesting.  The authors stated that cognitive presence is the same as knowledge construction and critical thinking.  They explained what it is and the process to develop it.

  1. Cognitive presence is reflective.
  2. It is iterative
  3. It is reciprocal (of personal and shared understanding)
  4. It’s a process based off of Dewey’s practical inquiry model:

Knowledge construction starts with an inquiry as result of an experience or practice, which leads to a triggering event as shown in the model of Figure 2 (p. 99). It then goes through a series of steps which will eventually lead to modification of the practice.  The process starts with: practice > triggering event > perception > exploration > deliberation > integration > conception > resolution > practice.

To build on the existing knowledge, a new triggering event could be started through further reflection.  This would then restart the process and show the iterative nature. Reflection occurs along two axes: action-deliberation and perception-conception.  Overall I found this article to be complex to understand and doing a personal reflection and self-analysis of my comprehension process and comparing it with figure 2 and the author’s explanation was fascinating because I was testing the model and realizing its effectiveness.  Checking and comparing understanding with classmates and the instructor will further improve cognitive presence.

Writing a summary of this process was helpful because it helped to internalize some of the main points from the article and serves as a good reminder when referencing this article at a future point. Seeing the concepts in a particular arrangement for the first time, it would be nice to verify with others that my understanding was correct. Establishing this would help to apply it into other situations. I found myself rereading the sections because I found it particularly interesting and important in clearly understanding how knowledge construction occurs. It seemed to provide the answer in deconstructing a complex task such as reading comprehension (even though it is considered level 2 on Bloom’s taxonomy). Knowing this will be practical in both my teaching practice and project. I would love to apply these concepts in other situations but would also like to know what the heck I’m trying to apply.


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