What is Knowledge Building?

If Knowledge building had to be described in a single sentence, it would be: “giving students collective responsibility for idea improvement.” 

In Knowledge Building, students work together as a community to build and improve explanations of problems of understanding that arise from the group itself.



Knowledge building represents an attempt to refashion education in a fundamental way, so that it becomes a coherent effort to initiate students into a knowledge creating culture. Thire requires finding ways to support students in carrying out knowledge creation, and helping them to learn how to build knowledge by actually doing it. Accordingly, it involves students not only developing knowledge building competencies but also students coming to see themselves and their work as part of the civilization-wide effort to advance knowledge frontiers.  


Knowledge Building engages students in “deep constructivism”, which occurs when students are aware of the underlying principles of the tasks they conduct and take responsibility for advancing group knowledge. “Shallow constructivism,” on the other hand, occurs when teachers or other centralized authorities possesses the ultimate means for advancing knowledge. Knowledge building pedagogy is designed to support the challenges of in-depth inquiry through its emphasis on community, collective responsibility for knowledge advancement, rigorous use of source material, and support for sustained, collaborative explanation-seeking dialogue. A key component of knowledge building is participation in sustained Knowledge Building discourse, which is a communal activity in which learners come together to pose questions, posit theories, and to revisit, negotiate, and refine ideas. Knowledge Building discourse helps to identify shared problems and gaps in understanding, and to advance understanding beyond the level of most knowledgeable individual.



Dr. Marlene Scardamalia talks about knowledge building work and what distinguishes it from traditional classroom learning. 

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