School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Kenneth Tierce


Case Study, Community of Inquiry, Cooperative Learning, Online Learning, Postsecondary Education, Undergraduate Education


Education | Online and Distance Education


The purpose of this intrinsic case study, which followed a single-case, embedded research design, was to understand undergraduate education students’ experiences in online cooperative learning environments. Garrison, Anderson, and Archer’s community of inquiry model, rooted in Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning and Tinto’s student integration theory, were used to guide this study and describe the significance of fostering strong social, cognitive, and teaching presence within online learning environments. To further understand online educational environments the following central research question was posed: How do undergraduate education students describe their experiences with cooperative learning activities within an online education course in terms of social, cognitive, and teaching presence? Subquestions investigated peer interactions, cognitive engagement, and engagement with the instructor and the instructional tools used. The setting for this study was an online teacher education course at a mid-sized postsecondary institution in which cooperative learning activities were embedded in the instructional activities, referred to herein as University of Learning. Participants were identified via purposeful criterion sampling procedures, based on enrollment in EDTE 402. Data were collected and analyzed from course materials, semistructured interviews with 10 participants, and a focus group discussion conducted with volunteer participants. A thick, rich description of the case was gained from fracturing the collected data, member checks, expert reviews, and triangulation. Findings indicated that infusing cooperative activities in online teacher education courses will promote high levels of social, cognitive, and teaching presence within virtual learning settings, leading to increased student learning outcomes.