What does “high engagement for student success” mean to you with respect to (online) learning?
High student engagement (What affordances of the web as a platform of (social) participation will be utilized to move beyond didactic paradigms that focus on the acquisition of information by students?)


I am very aware of the fact that linking the vertical dimension of the practical inquiry model with the “logic of science” and the horizontal dimension with the sociological imagination makes me the “poster child” for assimilation learning theory. However, I also know that before I made these connections my brain was bleeding from the trauma of new learning. Therefore, I want to work with these cognitive presence concepts until the newly plowed furrows are closer to healed. Therefore, I am thinking about how I can use the phases of the practical inquiry model to organize my continuing efforts to move “…beyond didactic paradigms that focus on the acquisition of information by students.”


The four phases of the practical inquiry model are trigger, exploration, integration, and resolution. The first question that I must address is what the web provides to facilitate high engagement through each phase.  The second question is what “high engagement for student success” means to me with respect to online learning in a seminar in social inequalities. This blog offers some of my first and definitely incomplete thoughts.


The web definitely provides triggering events. Recently, I experienced the power with which an internet meme can function as a triggering event for a consideration of social inequalities. What I found fascinating was the extent to which my Facebook friends shared memes that I considered so out of character with their worldviews. I could not resist further exploration of why my “friends” were sharing memes carrying such contradictory messages. Yes, I do know that people are capable of holding mutually contradictory cognitions. However, these people until that moment had presented themselves to me as the possessors of relatively coherent perspectives worked out over decades.


What I discovered was that they were sharing memes without benefit of thought, certainly without engaging in metacognitive processes. In the seminar in social inequalities, I would like to engage first and second year graduate students in responding to memes that deal with social inequality more thoughtfully.  (What started this train of thought was Rotten ecards and the food stamp battle just as the 2014 Farm Bill was being passed).


I believe that the initial responses to the memes will provide insight into the extent to which students bring their ability to think hypothetically to these triggering events. When shown the image and its accompanying text, how many possible explanations can they generate? The generation of meaningful hypotheses also requires access to relevant information. I have talked with audiences where few knew that there was a connection between the Farm Bill and “food stamps.” I know people who have never heard of the 2008 recession. Last semester one of the graduate students who was studying with me was dismayed to learn that there are hungry people in the USA.


I will see the participants in this seminar as “highly engaged for success” when they are more actively engaged in the search for alternative explanations, for information that can refute their initial hypotheses. I know that an important part of what I must do during the exploration phase is to guide seminar participants to relevant sources of information.  I think that Diigo can play an important role in this process. I also think that shared Refworks folders will be useful for the participants in this seminar.


Long ago, I set out to make the transition from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side.” However, on occasion I still feel pushed to be the “sage on the side.” I need strategies that allow students to achieve integration without returning myself to center stage. Finally, I need to make sure that I do a better job of planning so that I do not repeat what I have done here: run out of time before achieving resolution.



  1. Ann, some well conceived concepts here … love the use of memes as a spark for conversation and metacognition!
    I also continue to reflect on Garrison’s use of the word “resolution” and whether resolution within the time constraints of a course is realistic…
    Look forward to our conversations next week!

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