Designing for Knowledge Building: An Action Research Study in an Elementary Classroom

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This study sought to better understand knowledge building as defined by Scardamalia and Bereiter (2003) as “the production and continual improvement of ideas of value to a community, through means that increase the likelihood that what the community accomplishes will be greater than the sum of individual contributions and part of broader cultural efforts” (p. 1370). This study, which was carried out in a grade three and four classroom, was bound by the following research question: What learning designs enable a class of students to engage in knowledge building? I employed practitioner action research as a methodological approach to examine, critically question, and transform my understandings of my practice, how I conduct my practice and the conditions under which I practice (Kemmis et al., 2014). Sources of evidence included samples of computer supported collaborative work, documents, observations and journals. Designs for knowledge building included the use of hooks to elicit real ideas and authentic questions from students, ongoing reference to knowledge building principles as defined by Scardamalia (2002), scaffolds to support student discourse, both face-to-face and online, and the use of Google Applications for Education (GAFE) as a networked space to support sharing and feedback for improving ideas. The outcomes of this research suggested that students did, with the support of scaffolds, engage with knowledge building principles, worked as a community to improve ideas of value to the community and used GAFE in support of the work of knowledge building. Findings of this study support an ongoing understanding of how both a teacher and a group of students new to knowledge building advance in their effort to continually improve ideas as a community. Recommendations for further research include: 1) how a culture for knowledge building might continue to shift in a classroom over time; 2) how those students with some experience in knowledge building might support those new to knowledge building; and 3) how the Social Infrastructure Framework (Bielaczyc, 2006, 2013) can support in the design for knowledge building.
Knowledge Building, distributed cognition, computer supported collaborative learning, Culture, Google Applications for Education
Parker, R. J. (2018). Designing for knowledge building: An action research study in an elementary classroom (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/5419