The explanatory power of the community of inquiry model: a case in the Open University of Hong Kong

Henry M F Choi
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

The Community of Inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson and Archer 2000) argues that learning through online conferencing occurs within an online community through the interaction of cognitive, social and teaching presences. The model is considered 'noteworthy' in the recent development of theory in distance education (Gibson 2003) but few, if any, empirical studies have investigated the influence of these three presences.

The main purpose of this study is to examine and evaluate the explanatory power of the Community of Inquiry model, and explore the interrelationships of the various presences. The subjects used in this research were students from the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK). Data were collected from an online survey, with the questionnaire items being based on a modification of the content analysis frameworks developed by Garrison and Anderson (2003). Students from 34 courses in the OUHK were invited to participate in the main survey and there were 162 valid responses.

Correlations and ANOVA indicate that the three presences in the model are positively correlated with students' satisfaction and perceived attainment, but not with their participation in online conferencing. Garrison et al.'s (2000) suggestion that teaching presence and social presence both support cognitive presence is also supported by a series of multiple regression analyses. The results of this empirical study of the Community of Inquiry model in Hong Kong confirm the explanatory power of the model and the interrelationships of the three presences. Teaching and learning strategies derived from this model can, therefore, be confidently applied in online conferencing. The new instrument developed in this research can also facilitate more sophisticated studies in the future.