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Developing a Learner-Centered Classroom Through Collaborative Knowledge Building

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Pedagogy and Learning 1

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

15

Page Numbers

24.383.1 - 24.383.15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/20274

Download Count

72

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Paper Authors

biography

Glenn W. Ellis Smith College

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Glenn Ellis is a professor of engineering at Smith College who teaches courses in engineering science and methods for teaching science and engineering. He received his Ph.D. in civil engineering and operations research from Princeton University. The winner of numerous teaching awards, Dr. Ellis received the 2007 U.S. Professor of the Year Award for Baccalaureate Colleges from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. His research focuses on creating K-16 learning environments that support the growth of learners’ imaginations and their capacity for engaging in collaborative knowledge work.

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Halimat A. Ipesa-Balogun Smith College

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Halimat Ipesa-Balogun is a sophomore at Smith College who is pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in cognitive science. As a recipient of the Smith College STRIDE scholarship, she utilizes her research opportunities to study the discourse that takes in learning environments. In the future, she hopes to continue to study the intersections of language and cognition.

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Yanning Yu Northwestern University

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Yanning Yu is a Ph.D. student in the learning sciences program at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy. Her research interest lies in the design of curriculum and learning environments for STEM that support deep understanding, transfer, and collaborative learning. Before arriving at Northwestern, she graduated from Smith College with a B.A. degree in engineering and learning sciences. At Smith, she worked with Dr. Glen Ellis on knowledge-building research as well as design of instruction and assessment for an engineering course. She received the highest honors in engineering arts with her honors thesis entitled "Understanding Knowledge Building in Undergraduate Engineering Education," in which Dr. Glen Ellis was her adviser.

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Yezhezi Zhang Smith College

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Yezhezi Zhang is a student at Smith College who is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in engineering. Motivated by the importance of education in improving social mobility, she is passionate about engineering education. With a strong interest in learning theories, she has conducted education research with a focus on knowledge-building theory and 21st-century skills in the hope of designing a more effective learning environment.

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Xi Jiang Smith College

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A Smith College sophomore majoring in engineering, Xi has participated in the knowledge building special study group since last semester. She is also the instructional designer in the project, designing online engineering learning environments for high school students. Being active in extracurricular life, she is the secretary of a student organization working on a magazine about Smith scientific life and is a member of the chamber music group. Xi, who is from Ningbo, China, plays the piano, loves reading, and is really interested in knowledge building.

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Abstract

Developing a Learner-Centered Classroom Through Collaborative Knowledge BuildingResearch from the learning sciences indicates that success in the knowledge economyrequires graduates to possess integrated and usable knowledge with a deep understandingof complex concepts; the ability to work creatively with ideas to generate new theories,products, and knowledge; the skills to communicate and participate in discourse; and thecapacity to engage in lifelong learning. Knowledge building, as developed by Bereiterand Scardamalia, is a potentially transformative pedagogical approach that has beendeveloped to meet this educational need. In knowledge building students participate in aninteractive discourse (typically recorded asynchronously in a virtual workspace calledKnowledge Forum) in which they work together to broaden ideas, reformulate problemsand share knowledge—the result being a deeper level of understanding and thecollaborative production of new knowledge. Through this process students learn how todevelop a questioning attitude, become self-directed learners, and actively participate ininteractive discourse. Although knowledge building has been utilized internationally in avariety of academic levels and settings, its potential for undergraduate engineeringeducation remains largely unexplored.This paper will focus on measuring the transformation that takes place in learners as aresult of participating in knowledge building—including changes in the nature of theirknowledge building contributions over time and changes in their conceptualization of thelearning process. The analysis was conducted on data collected over a two-year period ina sophomore engineering mechanics class. It includes a quantitative and qualitativediscourse analysis investigating the changes that take place in the discourse of eightstudents over the course of a semester. It also includes an analysis of surveys designed toinvestigate the changes in how students conceptualize their role and the role of theteacher in the classroom. These survey results are also compared to survey results fromthe same course and instructor before knowledge building pedagogy was implemented.It was found that student knowledge building discourse did change throughout thesemester. In the beginning there was a greater emphasis on facts, factual questions andtask-oriented discourse. Later in the semester the discourse was more idea-centered andfocused increasingly on working with evidence, theorizing and developing explanatoryquestions. An increase in epistemic agency and metacognitive discourse were also foundin the discourse. From the surveys it was found that the students’ conceptualization oflearning changed during the semester. At the beginning of the semester studentsgenerally held a more traditional teacher-centric view of learning (for example, theyindicated that it is the teacher’s primary role to demonstrate real life examples and tomotivate students). At the end of the semester students held a more learner-centric view(for example, they indicated that it is the teacher’s role to facilitate collaboration and helpstudents when they are stuck).

Ellis, G. W., & Ipesa-Balogun, H. A., & Yu, Y., & Zhang, Y., & Jiang, X. (2014, June), Developing a Learner-Centered Classroom Through Collaborative Knowledge Building Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/20274

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