You are here:

Learning in Communities of Inquiry: A Review of the Literature


JDE Volume 23, Number 1, ISSN 0830-0445 Publisher: Athabasca University Press


The purpose of this study was to investigate learning in communities of inquiry (CoI) as the terms are defined in Garrison, Anderson, and Archer's (2000) framework. We identified 252 reports from 2000-2008 that referenced the framework, and we reviewed them using Ogawan and Malen's (1991) strategy for synthesizing multi-vocal bodies of literature. Of the 252 reports, 48 collected and analyzed data on one or more aspects of the CoI framework; only five included a measure of student learning. Predominantly, learning was defined as perceived learning and assessed with a single item on a closed-form survey. Concerns about the soundness of such measures pervade the educational measurement community; in addition, we question the validity of the particular items employed in the CoI literature. Bracketing these concerns, the review indicates that it is unlikely that deep and meaningful learning arises in CoI. Students associate the surface learning that does occur with independent activities or didactic instruction; not sustained communication in critical CoI. We encourage researchers to conduct more, substantial investigations into the central construct of the popular framework for e-learning and theorists to respond to the mounting body of disconfirming evidence. (Contains 2 tables.)


Rourke, L. & Kanuka, H. (2009). Learning in Communities of Inquiry: A Review of the Literature. The Journal of Distance Education / Revue de l'ducation Distance, 23(1), 19-48. Athabasca University Press. Retrieved March 5, 2021 from .

This record was imported from ERIC on April 19, 2013. [Original Record]

ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Copyright for this record is held by the content creator. For more details see ERIC's copyright policy.


Cited By

View References & Citations Map

These links are based on references which have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake, please contact