Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Julia S. Fuller

Committee Chair

Dr. Anissa Loke-Vega

Second Committee Member

Dr. Mei-Lin Chang

Third Committee Member

Dr. Leslie Pourreau


Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer participants opportunities to engage with content and discussion forums similar to other online courses. Pedagogical components of MOOCs and the nature of learning are worth of examining due to issues involving scale, interaction and the role of the instructor (Ross, Sinclair, Know, Bayne & McLeod, 2014). The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework provides a basis for measuring cognitive presence in online discussion forums. As voluntary point of entry to a community of learners, it is important to consider the nature of participant contributions in terms of cognitive presence. This study focused on an educator MOOC because MOOCs have been proposed as an efficient vehicle for providing professional development due to the significant self-identification of participants as educators (Ho et al. 2014).

Participant attributes have been categorized, however the discussion forum is difficult to study on a massive scale (Kizilcec, Piech, & Schulz, 2013). Automated measures of cognitive presence may not provide the full view of learning behaviors implicit in messages posted to the forums (Wong, Pursel, Divinsky & Jansen, 2015). To address this gap, the forum messages were hand-coded and analyzed using quantitative content analysis (Neuendorf, 2002). The study found that the measure of exploration increased over the duration of the course. Viewing cognitive presence over time provided a new metaphor for explaining the proportions of cognitive presence in the discussion forum of an educator MOOC. This finding suggests that increased instructor presence during the later stages of the course may increase cognitive presence over time (Akyol & Garrison, 2007; Garrison & Cleveland-Innes, 2005).