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Wanaka Keynote

Keynote presentation at symposium on knowledge building, Wanaka, New Zealand, Nov. 19 2012.

Jan van Aalst

on 9 January 2016

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Transcript of Wanaka Keynote

Jan van Aalst, Ph. D.
Associate Professor, University of Hong Kong

Knowledge Building: Rationale,Principles, & Lessons from the Field
What is knowledge building?
Principles & Pedagogical Design
People on their way to becoming experts ...
Learning as experts do
- Catching up with what others have understood before.
Learning vs. Knowledge Building
Belief mode
- convince others without changing ideas

Design mode
- Improve ideas
Design mode vs belief mode
Knowledge building
- Creating new knowledge that's of value to the community
Environmental Issues
SARS epidemic
Designing a thermometer
Physical Geography
Grade 10 Social Studies
Short unit (3 weeks)
Students chose an environmental problem
Web searches and discussions to identify solutions
Individual learning portfolios
Grade 10 personal development
Grade 11 computers and global citizenship
Intensive reading about SARS
Identifying problems to investigate
Extended inquiry ~ 3-4 weeks
Collaborative summary notes
Grade 12
Ongoing constructivist learning
Whole-class inquiry in KF on emerging problems
Individual portfolio assessments in KF
Grade 10 Physics
Starter inquiry
Groups of students design and build thermometers
know the limits of understanding and skill in their field
engage in progressive problem solving by continually reinvesting free-up information processing capacity in new learning
focus on the goal of advancing the field
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Universities Research Committee
Hong Kong Education Bureau
English Literature
Grade 10, inner-city school
Starter unit: what is knowledge?
Tap into class's collective knowledge to advance individual knowledge
Views for figurative language, sensory images, tone, structure/form, theme
View for putting it all together
Students felt that they should have instruction in questioning techniques……need to know how to ask good questions
Make better use of the scaffolds or develop our own.
How do you think you could improve what you did?
Comprehend and Respond
: Students will be able to develop skills and strategies to enable them to construct knowledge and critically evaluate what they read and view. They will learn to compose questions to guide their own learning. They will be called upon to consider more than one point of view, make rational judgments, draw conclusions and defend those conclusions.
Communicate Ideas and Information
: Students will understand that communication takes many different formats. Using KF, students will be able to employ a variety of editing strategies to enable them to communicate clearly and effectively.
Self and Society
: Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with others to explore a wide variety of ideas in a non-threatening atmosphere. Students “ will interact purposefully, confidently and respectfully….they will demonstrate respect for cultural differences……demonstrate an awareness of the relationship of language to group and community membership.” (IRP, p.76)
How was KF related to the curriculum?
Classroom environment
Real ideas, authentic problems
Improvable ideas
Idea diversity
Rise above
Epistemic agency
Community knowledge, collective responsibility
Democratizing knowledge
Symmetric knowledge advancement
Pervasive knowledge building
Constructive use of Authoritative sources
knowledge building discourse
Embedded and transformative assessment
Scardamalia 2002
SARS database
Extent of the SARS epidemic
Quarantine of chickens affected by Avian Flu
How SARS is communicated
Cultivate Innovation Ecology
Set authentic tasks
Encourage sense of community
Encourage strong links between KF and classroom activities
Set long-range goals
Not reaching a fixed endpoint but seeing how far you can go
Principles provide concepts and language, but don't tell you what to do.
Review, synthesis, rise-above
Learning progressions
Development of understanding of core disciplinary ideas across grade-levels
Development of KB across years
How do we go beyond "covering the curriculum"?
Set realistic goals. Keep advancing them.
Qualitative differences
Students in the honors class wrote longer and more articulate notes. E.g., a single student described the background to the problem in a single note.
Students in the regular class did not do this in a single note, but did it in a series of notes. They always asked questions to improve each others' ideas.
The notes of students in the honors class also were more metacognitive than those of students in the regular class. They often started by summarizing key ideas and might end by explaining how their idea relates to the inquiry problem.
Students in the regular class did not do this for their own notes, but commented on the quality of the notes of others. E.g., "Putting up a fact is fine, but think a little bit. Is this really important here?"
Dutch Math exam question (HAVO, 2010)
Excerpt from portfolio note
External examinations
Examinations tend to ...
Focus on comprehension, understanding, and some application of specific content
Be comprehensive in coverage of syllabus
Fail to require knowledge integration
Fail to assess 21st century skills
Backwash effect on teaching!
Need to do better ... but reliability an issue
Not just "you have been taught ..., let's see if you know it", but also "let's see how you do on this novel problem."
KB-related Outcomes
Knowing the limits of knowledge in the community
Progressive problem solving
Advancing community knowledge
setting personal goals
deepening inquiry
group efforts
evaluating progress
negotiating collective goals
inquiry skills
information skills
Reviewing the pedagogical designs
Environmental issues
inquiry project
KF used after school
Limited interaction between groups
Good advances
SARS epidemic
inquiry projects
KF used in class
Limited interaction between groups
Groups had students from both classes
Excellent advances
for some groups
Not a core subject
English literature
Whole-class approach
KF used at home/computer lab
with teaching
Very interactive
Impressive writing
and cooperation
with subject
Physical geography
KF used after school/computer lab
Integrated with teaching
Deep engagement with KB principles
Designing thermometers
design projects
Mixed approach
KF used after school &
in class
Limited interaction in KF
Good advances

for most groups
Emergent group arrangements more effective

Projects less effective than integration with teaching
Full transcript