The University of Arizona

An Analysis of Higher-Order Thinking: Examining a Secondary Physics I Web-Enhanced Instructional Design.

Lisa M. Coolidge Manley


This paper discusses a small-scale study assessing the extent to which the instructional design of a web-enhanced educational learning environment using the specific CMC discussion board tool facilitated higher-order thinking processes. The study was carried out in a secondary Physics I online module with 38 male and female high school students. Group discussion posts and final analyses data was coded and analyzed using the Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2001) Community of Inquiry (CoI) model. Two raters coded over 311 discussion messages using the cognitive presence categories and indicators to determine the level of higher-order thinking processes. Each message was given a number relating to the model’s categories: 1=triggering, 2=exploration, 3=integration, and 4=resolution, plus an additional category of 5=social to determine the level of social presence. Results determined that 8% of participant groups’ postings moved to higher levels of thinking processes through the use of authentic learning activities, CMC discussion board tool, and teacher presence, however 32% could not move beyond exploration. Over 43% of student postings scored in the social category, an increased result than previous studies in higher education. Data also indicated 19 out of 38 that is 50% of the participants were able to score in the higher-order thinking levels on their final analyses rather than in the discussion thread. Well-designed online learning modules offering learners authentic learning activities, CMC collaborative tools, prompting questions, and teacher presence must be accompanied with precise structured directives for secondary learners to achieve higher levels of critical thinking within collaborative discussion groups.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_itet_v1i1_manley


Community of Inquiry; Cognitive Presence; Higher-Order Thinking; Instructional Design

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