An educational community of inquiry is a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.

The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements: social, cognitive and teaching presence.

The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework theory, methodology and instruments were developed during a Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities research funded project entitled "A Study of the Characteristics and Qualities of Text-Based Computer Conferencing for Educational Purposes" project which ran from 1997 to 2001. Central to the original study was the creation of a framework of a community of inquiry comprised of three essential elements of an educational experience: cognitive, social and teaching presence

Outcomes of the original project were published in peer reviewed journals which, in turn, have resulted in hundreds of research studies applying and extending the original CoI theory, method, and instruments. The seminal paper "Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education" (Garrison, Anderson and Archer, 2000) has been cited more than 2,800 times (as reported by Google Scholar August 2015) and provided the foundation for valuable empirical research in learning theory across multiple disciplines and in varied educational settings.


The Community of Inquiry questionnaire is developed and validated by a collaborative research team. The members of the team, in alphabetical order, are Ben Arbaugh, Marti Cleveland-Innes, Sebastian Diaz, D. Randy Garrison, Phil Ice, Jennifer Richardson, Peter Shea and Karen Swan.

The results were presented at the Sloan-C Conference in Orlando in November 2008. A three factor solution with oblique rotation was presented. All variables loaded cleanly on the expected factor/presence. This suggests a stable instrument that could be used in a variety of studies, including large scale inter-institutional or cross-disciplinary studies.

The survey in English can be downloaded here.
La encuesta en español está disponible aquí.

The CoI Survey is an open resource under Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA). Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of the CoI survey to use, share, copy, adapt, merge, publish or distribute the document in any medium or format for any purpose, provided that appropriate credit is given, and any modified material is distributed under the same Creative Commons license.


Our sister site at Athabasca University features an extensive set of publication references, including papers, dissertations, and books about the Community of Inquiry, as well as further and more detailed information on the CoI framework, its presences, and the CoI survey. Visit the CoI Research Site.

Student populations today are more diverse than ever before. Differences in ability levels, ethnicity, cultural background, and gender identity, among other factors, can provide learning environments with a rich kaleidoscope of features. With inclusive leadership and practice, student diversity can add value to the learning environment, providing opportunities for meaningful learning, personal growth, and community building. Join the Inclusive Educators' Toolbox community and contribute your own tools and ideas for inclusive education.

Technology-enabled learning (TEL) has the power to transform both teaching and learning in classroom-based, online, and blended education by introducing the digital tools and resources 21st-century learners will need in order to explore, understand, and express themselves. These technologies can transform teaching by creating new, connected relationships between teachers, students, and content to improve instruction and create a more personalized form of learning. Join the TEL Resources Repository community and contribute your own resources and ideas for technology-enabled education.

Charanjeet on Designing a Community of Inquiry
2 days ago
Many thanks for your reply Prof. Garrison. It is interesting that after submitting my project details for your further advice, I was surprised finding on page 112 of your book: Thinking Collaboratively, Learning in a Community of Inquiry ( 2016) your recommendations about IQT: "This could include asking questions, ...

Maria O'Donovan on The CoI Community
1 week ago
I am delighted to have found this community! Am especially interested in the Community of Inquiry model and especially in relation to MOOCs. I am working as a Research Assistant at Aarhus University. ...

Dr. Alexander Osondu Akpodiete on The CoI Community
1 month ago
Hello everyone. I am new in the community. I am an IT & Cyber Security Consultant, Subject Matter Expert (SME), Mediator & Conflict Coach, Educator & Trainer and certified Project Management Professional (PMP)®, with a varied inter-disciplinary education and experience. Certifications include Information Security & ...

Norm Vaughan on Designing a Community of Inquiry
1 month ago
Hi Randy, Just to build on your editorial about designing a Community of Inquiry - here is a reference to a paper I wrote a few years ago about this topic in terms of blended and online learning environments. The key for me was a clear alignment between learning outcomes and assessment activities in the design ...

D. Randy Garrison on Designing a Community of Inquiry
1 month ago
Charan, I read your post with some interest. I was not surprised to see that the IQT comments were so high. It certainly speaks to the power of inquiry. BTW I like you phonetic interpretation of inquiry :) I encourage you to continue to explore CP as this goes to the core of the framework. The only caveat I would ...

Charan on Designing a Community of Inquiry
1 month ago
Inspired by Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework when introduced to it in September 2015, at my University, I designed a project. I am struggling better understanding the project and trying to promote if it has some merit. I would appreciate inputs from the CoI to please help me evaluating and possibly implementing ...

Chan Chang-Tik on The CoI Community
2 months ago
Hello everybody, I am a new member of the community. I would like to share my recent article on CoI and learning styles. It is published in the Interactive Learning Environments Journal (http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/N3gY2BNnJW2UbM66IkI6/full) I welcome comments from the learned ...

D. Randy Garrison on Cognitive Presence and Critical Thinking
4 months ago
Thanks to Jens Breivik for taking the time to respond to my editorial about the cognitive presence construct and critical thinking. Such critical analysis gives me the opportunity to clarify important features of the CoI framework. Jens basic point is that the cognitive presence (CP) construct has weak validity. ...

Jens Breivik on Cognitive Presence and Critical Thinking
4 months ago
Is progress through the phases of an inquiry process a construct-valid operationalization of cognitive presence? First, I would like to thank you for the comments on my article and the opportunity to discuss further the validity of the cognitive presence construct. I agree with D. Randy Garrison that the value of ...

Dan Wilton on Dan Wilton's profile
4 months ago
We are considering opening personal discussion threads. If you would like to comment on this idea, please enter your thoughts below.
The Community of Inquiry is a project of the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University, researchers of the Community of Inquiry framework, and members of the CoI community.