Oct 222010
 

Publications iconParticipation in Knowledge-Building Discourse: An Analysis of Online Discussions in Mainstream and Honours Social Studies Courses
Hui Niu, Jan van Aalst

Abstract: Questions about the suitability of cognitively-oriented instructional approaches for students of different academic levels are frequently raised by teachers and researchers. This study examined student participation in knowledge-building discourse in two implementations of a short inquiry unit focusing on environmental problems. Participants in each implementation consisted of students taking a mainstream or an honours version of a tenth grade social studies course. We retrieved data about students’ actions in Knowledge Forum® (e.g., the number of notes created and the percentage of notes with links), and conducted a content analysis of the discourse by each collaborative group. We suggest the findings provide cause for optimism about the use of knowledge-building discourse across academic levels: there was moderate to strong evidence of knowledge building in both classes by Implementation 2. We end with suggestions for focusing online work more directly on knowledge building.

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