An International Study of Motivation for Knowledge Building
Angela Chow, IKIT, OISE/University of Toronto, Canada; Mercè Bernaus, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain; Oscar Hernandez, Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla, Mexico; Joana Salazar Noguera, University of the Balearic Islands, Spain; Robert C. Gardner, University of Western Ontario, Canada; Marlene Scardamalia, IKIT, OISE/University of Toronto, Canada.
Knowledge Building has become increasingly prominent in schools as a way to enculturate students into a knowledge-creating culture. As knowledge builders, students have to work as epistemic agents, engaging constantly in self-directed inquiry and working closely with peers to assume collective responsibility for continual idea improvement—improvement of their own ideas and those of community members. Students’ motivation in taking up these new roles is critical to the quantity and quality of their contributions to the group’s knowledge and engagement with community members in advancing ideas. From a teacher and school perspective, it is important to understand how to foster students’ motivation for knowledge building, but to date, there is a lack of research in this area.
An international study is reported that investigates motivation for learning in ten classes engaged in knowledge building in three different countries. Students' motivation is assessed through answers they provide to questions regarding their reasons for engaging in learning. The knowledge building settings are characterized in terms of classroom and school variables such as domain of inquiry, student team organization, duration of various efforts to advance ideas, teacher-student interaction, and knowledge building initiatives across grades within schools
A two-step approach was employed with a mixed use of quantitative and qualitative approaches. First, a self-report instrument for measuring reasons for engaging in learning was administered to students in schools in Spain (n=150), Mexico (n=150) and Canada (n=60). K-means cluster analysis was employed to classify the respondents of each country into five motivational groups, from the most motivated “Collaborative Inquirers”, “Project Achievers”, “Individual Learners”, “Ambivalent Participants” to the least motivated “Amotivated Students”. Next, the motivational characteristics found in these three countries were compared and interpreted qualitatively in relation to knowledge building dynamics in their respective classes/schools. Results provide insights into what motivates students to engage in knowledge building and sheds light on how teachers and schools can create environments to promote knowledge building. It also points to the need to refine the scale and motivational groups to capture dimensions of knowledge building that extend beyond the concept of collaborative inquiry to sustained, collective responsibility for continually improving community knowledge.