Higher Levels of Agency for Children in Knowledge Building: a Challenge for the Design of New Knowledge Media

Journal article by Marlene Scardamalia, Carl Bereiter; Journal of the Learning Sciences, Vol. 1, 1991

The excerpt contains one of the best summaries of the approaches and limitations of constructivism, behaviourism and Vygotsky's zone of proximal development that I have seen - as well as introducing Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environments (CSILE) to assist the construction of questions to guide inquiry
Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1994)
Computer support for knowledge-building communities. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3(3), 265-283

In this article we focus on the educational ideas for knowledge-building discourse - with some discussion, toward the end of this essay, on the technology. The ideas represented in CSILE come from three lines of research and thought
1. Intentional learning. Although a great deal of learning is unintentional, important kinds of school learning appear not to take place unless the student is actively trying to achieve a cognitive objective - as distinct from simply trying to do well on school tasks or activities
2. The process of expertise. Although expertise is usually gauged by performance, there is a process aspect to expertise, which we hypothesize to consist of reinvestment of mental resources that become available as a result of pattern learning and automaticity, and more particularly their reinvestment in progressive problem solving - addressing the problems of one's domain at increasing levels of complexity
3. Restructuring schools as knowledge-building communities. The process of expertise is effortful and typically requires social support. By implication, the same is true of intentional learning. Most social environments do not provide such support. They are what we call first-order environments. Adaptation to the environment involves learning, but the learning is asymptotic. One becomes an old timer, comfortably integrated into a relatively stable system of routines (Lave & Wenger, 1991). As we explain further in later sections, there is good reason to characterize schools of both didactic and child-centered orientations as first-order environments. In second-order environments, learning is not asymptotic because what one person does in adapting changes the environment so that others must readapt. Competitive sports and businesses are examples of second-order environments, in which the accomplishments of participants keep raising the standard that the others strive for. More relevant examples in education are the sciences and other learned disciplines in which adaptation involves making contributions to collective knowledge

How Schools Inhibit Knowledge Building
Knowledge Building: A Third Way
What Makes Knowledge-Building Communities Work?
Specifications For Knowledge-Building Discourse
Knowledge-Building Discourse: The Classroom and Beyond
How Technology Can Help Reframe Classroom Discourse To Support
A Community Database at the Center of Classroom Discourse
Focus on Problems and Depth of Understanding
Decentralized, Open Knowledge Building, With a Focus on Collective Knowledge

video clips:
An Invited Conversation with Carl Bereiter
Computer Support for Collaborative Learning '97
Clip 1: Introductions by Timothy Koschmann (2:08)
Clip 2: "Fusing the Research and Practitioner Cultures in CSCL" by Carl Bereiter (26:08)
Clip 3: Comments from Mary Lamon, a CSILE researcher, with video from a CSILE classroom (6:11)
Clip 4: Comments from Bev Caswell, a CSILE researcher (6:28)
Clip 5: Q & A - Use of the term ‘culture’. Response from Carl Bereiter. (3:28)
Clip 6: Q & A - The role of school administrators in effecting change. Response from Mary Lamon. (1:47)

Education and Mind in the Knowledge Age, Carl Bereiter (2002) Google books
Tremendous rhetoric against folk psychology learning - does it deliver????????? READ MORE
The final chapter, Ch 12. Why education reform needs a new theory of mind, lists 7 instructional challenges (391), 10 faulty conceptions (pp. 399-400) and two basic changes. The changes are:
1) Suspend the metaphor of the mind as a container holding knowledge
2) Abstract knowledge objects should be accepted as objects in the real world with which people may develop relationships

The 7 instructional challenges are:
1) Number sense
2) Fractions, proportions, ratios, decimals and percents
3 Scientific misconceptions
4) Functional literacy - the notion that everyone ought to be reading better than they do cannot really be entertained
5) Literature
6) World knowledge
7) Thinking skills

The 10 faulty conceptions are:
6) Reductive practices unrecognised or sometimes elevated to principles
"Project based learning"
"Learner centered education"
"Core knowledge"
7) Science not understood
10) No way to formulate core business of schooling - because of impoverished conception of knowledge

It seems more to be a VERY GOOD critique than a practical guide to a better way

Carl Bereiter's Education and Mind in the Knowledge Age (2002)
review by Ron Lubensky

"Berieter places personal knowledge in the relationship between a person and the object of knowledge (eg a material object, another person, a theory), developed and manifested through activity. He refers to this situated view of knowledge as connectionism, which he sees as an expression of self-organisation emerging from the complexity of individuals and society in the form of conceptual artifacts. He then promotes a situated, problem-solving approach to all learning as a means of building a deeper relationship with the domain (ie. understanding)"

See also Connectionism

Socio-cognitive dynamics of knowledge building in the work of 9- and 10-year-olds

Jianwei Zhang1, 4
Contact Information
Contact Information
, Marlene Scardamalia1, Mary Lamon2, Richard Messina3 and Richard Reeve1

This study examines four months of online discourse of 22 Grade 4 students engaged in efforts to advance their understanding of optics. Their work is part of a school-wide knowledge building initiative, the essence of which is giving students collective responsibility for idea improvement. This goal is supported by software—Knowledge Forum—designed to provide a public and collaborative space for continual improvement of ideas. A new analytic tool—inquiry threads—was developed to analyze the discourse used by these students as they worked in this environment. Data analyses focus on four knowledge building principles: idea improvement; real ideas, authentic problems (involving concrete/empirical and abstract/conceptual artifacts); community knowledge (knowledge constructed for the benefit of the community as a whole); and constructive use of authoritative sources. Results indicate that these young students generated theories and explanation-seeking questions, designed experiments to produce real-world empirical data to support their theories, located and introduced expert resources, revised ideas, and responded to problems and ideas that emerged as community knowledge evolved. Advances were reflected in progress in refining ideas and evidence of growth of knowledge for the community as a whole. Design strategies and challenges for collective idea improvement are discussed.

Knowledge Forum
Proprietary software that evolved out of Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environments (CSILE)


Marlene Scardamalia, Carl Bereiter (wife-husband team)