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TLRI: Designing Knowledge Building Communities in Secondary Schools (2012 & 2013)

Project Description

The project team is working with five Virtual Learning Network Community school clusters, with approximately 200 Year 11-13 students and 8 teachers involved in this study.


To design and evaluate a computer-supported knowledge building community in senior secondary classes. We would like to find out:

  • The roles of teachers and the strategies they use to support students’ advancement of knowledge.
  • The effects of the knowledge building community on the change of students’ domain knowledge, collaborative learning skills, skills of learning how to learn, and dispositions as a lifelong knowledge builder.
  • How to develop a knowledge building culture in secondary schools.

Information and communication technology has the potential to support students to acquire the metacognitive, problem solving, collaborative, and learning how to learn skills that are required to work with and create knowledge in the knowledge society. One of the very few of the technology-supported learning environments that is based on a well-designed pedagogical model is knowledge building communities. The goal of knowledge building is “the production and continual improvement of ideas of value to a community” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2003, p.1370) and is based on the premise that all students can create authentic knowledge work and advance communal knowledge in their classes, similar to what research and science communities do. In a knowledge building community, students use Knowledge Forum, a Web-based networking software system designed to support knowledge building discussions with a set of scaffolding tools. Knowledge building communities have been systematically researched internationally and have demonstrated success in enhancing students’ knowledge building competency.

Why is this research important?

New Zealand is shifting form an industrial society to a knowledge society and there is an urgent need to develop young people’s competency to work creatively and innovatively with knowledge. This research will provide evidence of how this can be effectively done in secondary schools.