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.

Click here for full article.