2010 Knowledge Building Summer Institute: New Assessments and Environments for Knowledge Building. August 3-6, 2010 - Toronto, Canada

Ways of contributing to a dialogue in science
Maria Chuy, Monica Resendes, & Marlene Scardamalia


The proposed research is a small study that will form part of a larger program broadly addressing new ways that education can strengthen a society's capacity to produce new knowledge. The focus of the research is on elementary school students' emergent ways of contributing to knowledge-building discourse. Based on the procedures of "Grounded Theory" (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), we develop an empirically grounded list of ways of contributing to a dialogue in science and examine how these ways frame a knowledge-building classroom. Six major contribution types represent the center of our analyses: asking thought-provoking questions, theorizing, experimenting, working with evidence, creating syntheses and analogies and, finally, supporting discussion. More precisely, we examine which ways of contributing are the most popular in a knowledge-building classroom, which ways students seldom or never use and that may accordingly be the objects of subsequent instructional intervention, what is the role of a teacher in developing distinctive contribution types in students and, finally, how various contributions support each other in a dialogue. Several recommendations are suggested for enhancing effective knowledge-building discourse.

Link to draft paper