Skip to main content

Agency to transform: how did a grade 5 community co-configure dynamic knowledge building practices in a yearlong science inquiry?

Abstract

This study explores emergent reflective structuration as a new form of shared regulation. The purpose is to support students in taking on high-level epistemic agency as they co-configure dynamic inquiry pathways that unfold over long periods of time. With the teacher’s support, students not only regulate their inquiry and collaboration following pre-scripted structures, but they also co-construct shared inquiry pathways to frame and reframe their community practices in response to progress and needs that emerge over time. Our data analysis investigates the temporal and interactional processes by which members of a Grade 5 classroom co-configured their knowledge building pathways in a yearlong science inquiry focusing on the human body systems. As a co-constructed structure, students co-formulated an evolving chart of “big questions” that signified shared inquiry directions with the teacher’s support. The inquiry process was supported by Knowledge Form and Idea Thread Mapper, which visualizes the online knowledge building discourse based on temporal streams of inquiry focusing on the “big questions.” Qualitative analysis of classroom observation notes, videos, student artifacts, online discourse, and student interviews documented nine “big questions” co-formulated by the community over time. Further analysis revealed students’ agentic moves to expand, deepen, and reframe the knowledge building work of their community. Analyses of online discourse and a pre-and post-test showed productive idea contributions, interactions, and knowledge outcomes. Conceptual and practical implications are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

References

  1. Archer, M. S. (1982). Morphogenesis versus structuration: On combing structure and action. British Journal of Sociology, 33, 455–483.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (2014). Knowledge building and knowledge creation: one concept, two hills to climb. In S. C. Tan, H. J. So, & J. Yeo (Eds.), Knowledge creation in education (pp. 35–52). Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Carolan, B. V. (2014). Social network analyses and education: Theory, methods & applications. SAGE.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Chi, M. T. H. (1997). Quantifying qualitative analyses of verbal data: A practical guide. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6, 271–315.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Cress, U., Oshima, J., Rosé, C., & Wise, A. (in press). Foundations, processes, technologies, and methods: An overview of CSCL through its handbook. In Cress, U., Oshima, J., Rosé, C., & Wise, A. (Eds.), International handbook of computer-supported collaborative learning. Springer.

  6. Damsa, C. I., Kirschner, P. A., Andriessen, J. E., Erkens, G., & Sins, P. H. (2010). Shared epistemic agency: An empirical study of an emergent construct. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(2), 143–186.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Damşa, C. I., Nerland, M., & Andreadakis, Z. E. (2019). An ecological perspective on learner-constructed learning spaces. British Journal of Educational Technology, 50(5), 2075–2089.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Derry, S. J., Pea, R. D., Barron, B., Engle, R. A., Erickson, R. A., Goldman, F., et al. (2010). Conducting video research in the learning sciences. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19, 3–53.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Engeström, Y. (2008). From teams to knots: Activity-theoretical studies of collaboration and learning at work. Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Engle, R. A., Lam, D. P., Meyer, X. S., & Nix, S. E. (2012). How does expansive framing promote transfer? Several proposed explanations and a research agenda for investigating them. Educational Psychologist, 47(3), 215–231.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society. Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Gloor, P. A. (2006). Swarm creativity: Competitive advantage through collaborative innovation networks. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Goodwin, C. (2017). Co-operative action. Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Goodyear, P., & Dimitriadis, Y. (2013). “In medias res”: Reframing design for learning. Research in Learning Technology, 21, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21i0.19909

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Gutierrez, K. D., & Barton, A. C. (2015). The possibilities and limits of the structure–agency dialectic in advancing science for all. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(4), 574–583.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Hagel, J., Brown, J. S., & Davison, L. (2010). The power of pull: How small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion. Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Hakkarainen, K. (2009). A knowledge-practice perspective on technology-mediated learning. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4, 213–231.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Järvelä, S., & Hadwin, A. F. (2013). New frontiers: Regulating learning in CSCL. Educational Psychologist, 48(1), 25–39.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Järvelä, S., Järvenoja, H., & Malmberg, J. (2019). Capturing the dynamic and cyclical nature of regulation: Methodological progress in understanding socially shared regulation in learning. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 14, 425–441.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Järvelä, S., Kirschner, P. A., Hadwin, A., Järvenoja, H., Malmberg, J., Miller, M., & Laru, J. (2016). Socially shared regulation of learning in CSCL: Understanding and prompting individual- and group-level shared regulatory activities. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 11(3), 263–280.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Johnson, S. (2001). Emergence: The connected lives of ants, brains, cities, and software. Scirbner.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Kirschner, P. A., & Erkens, G. (2013). Toward a framework for CSCL research. Educational Psychologist, 48(1), 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Kali, Y., McKenney, S., & Sagy, O. (2015). Teachers as designers of technology enhanced learning. Instructional Science, 43(2), 173–179.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Miller, E., Manz, E., Russ, R., Stroupe, D., & Berland, L. (2018). Addressing the epistemic elephant in the room: Epistemic agency and the next generation science standards. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 55(7), 1053–1075.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Park, H., & Zhang, J. (2020). Teachers’ reflective noticing and responsive scaffolding to support student knowledge building in Grade 5 science. Annual Meeting of American Educational Research Association: San Francisco.

  26. Pendleton-Jullian, A. M., & Brown, J. S. (2018). Design unbound: Designing for emergence in a white water world. The MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Perkins, D. N., Jay, E., & Tishman, S. (1993). Beyond abilities: A dispositional theory of thinking. Merill-Palmer Quarterly, 39(1), 1–21.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Rogat, T. K., & Linnenbrink-Garcia, L. (2011). Socially shared regulation in collaborative groups: An analysis of the interplay between the quality of social regulation and group processes. Cognition and Instruction, 29(4), 375–415.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Roschelle, J. (2020). A review of the international handbook of computer-supported collaborative learning. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 15, 499–505.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Sawyer, R. K. (2005). Social emergence: Societies as complex systems. Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Sawyer, R. K. (2007). Group genius: The creative power of collaboration. Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Sawyer, R. K. (2015). A call to action: The challenges of creative teaching and learning. Teachers College Record, 117(10), 1–34.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Scardamalia, M. (2002). Collective cognitive responsibility for the advancement of knowledge. In B. Smith (Ed.), Liberal education in a knowledge society (pp. 67–98). Open Court.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1991). Higher levels of agency for children in knowledge building: A challenge for the design of new knowledge media. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 1(1), 37–68.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2014). Knowledge building and knowledge creation: theory, pedagogy, and technology. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (2nd ed., pp. 397–417). Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Sewell, W. H., Jr. (1992). A theory of structure: Duality, agency, and transformation. American Journal of Sociology, 98, 1–29.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Siqin, T., van Aalst, J., & Chu, S. K. W. (2015). Fixed group and opportunistic collaboration in a CSCL environment. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 10(2), 161–181.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Tao, D., & Zhang, J. (2018). Forming shared inquiry structures to support knowledge building in a grade 5 community. Instructional Science, 46, 563–593.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Tao, D., & Zhang, J. (2021). Implementing emergent design to support agency-driven knowledge building practices in a Grade 5 science classroom. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Research Association: Orlando.

  40. Varelas, M., Tucker-Raymond, E., & Richards, K. (2015). A structure-agency perspective on young children’s engagement in school science: Carlos’s performance and narrative. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(4), 516–529.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Wise, A. F., & Schwarz, B. B. (2017). Visions of CSCL: Eight provocations for the future of the field. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 12, 423–467.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Zhang, J. (2013). Foster a self-sustained, collective trajectory of inquiry through adaptive collaboration. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Research Association: San Francisco.

  43. Zhang, J., & Chen, M.-H. (2019). Idea thread mapper: designs for sustaining student-driven knowledge building across classrooms. In K. Lund, G. Niccolai, E. Lavoué, C. Hmelo-Silver, G. Gweon, & M. Baker (Eds.), A wide lens: Combining embodied, enactive, extended, and embedded learning in collaborative settings, 13th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) 2019 (Vol. 1, pp. 144–151). Lyon: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

  44. Zhang, J., Hong, H.-Y., Scardamalia, M., Teo, C., & Morley, E. (2011). Sustaining knowledge building as a principle-based innovation at an elementary school. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20, 262–307.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Zhang, J., Scardamalia, M., Lamon, M., Messina, R., & Reeve, R. (2007). Socio-cognitive dynamics of knowledge building in the work of nine- and ten-year-olds. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55, 117–145.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Zhang, J., Scardamalia, M., Reeve, R., & Messina, R. (2009). Designs for collective cognitive responsibility in knowledge building communities. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 18, 7–44.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Zhang, J., Tao, D., Chen, M.-H., Sun, Y., Judson, D., & Naqvi, S. (2018). Co-organizing the collective journey of inquiry with idea thread mapper. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 27, 390–430.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the U. S. National Science Foundation (#1122573, #1441479 awarded to the second author) and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (# 2019M660522 awarded to the first author). We owe special thanks to the teacher and students for their creative work enabling this research, and to Dr. Mei-Hwa Chen and her team for their work on software development. We also extend our gratitude to the editors and reviewers who provided constructive feedback and suggestions. Part of the analysis was presented at the International Conference of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (2015, Gothenburg, Sweden).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dan Tao.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tao, D., Zhang, J. Agency to transform: how did a grade 5 community co-configure dynamic knowledge building practices in a yearlong science inquiry?. Intern. J. Comput.-Support. Collab. Learn 16, 403–434 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11412-021-09353-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Epistemic agency
  • Knowledge building
  • Opportunistic collaboration
  • Reflective structuration
  • Socially shared regulation
  • Transformative CSCL