10 SES 06 C, Learning Communities and Professional Identities
In the 21st century, knowledge is the driver of growth and development; it is thus essential that society’s knowledge creating capacity and capability is developed and enhanced. Hargreaves(1999), as well as Scardamalia and Bereiter (2006), argue that developing knowledge building capacity should start with the radical transformation of schools from being learning organisations to knowledge creating organisations, in order to help students develop the attitudes, dispositions, confidence, and capability to create new knowledge. In order to support students to become knowledge creators, teachers need to develop new understanding of their role and identity, to form pedagogical beliefs, and undertake practices that are conducive to supporting such a development. Teachers also need to practice as knowledge creators in order to model knowledge creation to students. This requires a shift in professional identity, regarding how teachers “define themselves to themselves and to others” (Lasky, 2005, p.901). In this paper we discuss how the knowledge building community (KBC) model, developed by Scardamalia and Bereiter (2006), was adapted and used to support a group of New Zealand secondary school teachers to transform their professional identity, from being knowledge transmitters, to knowledge creators, and then leaders (Henderson, 2012).
A professional learning and development (PLD) community of secondary teachers was formed to support the development of their professional identities, based on Scardamalia and Bereiter’s (2006) knowledge building principles. Scardamalia and Bereiter’s (2006) KBC model was originally designed as a computer-supported pedagogical model with the goal of engaging students in a community to create knowledge, which is new and useful to the community.The model has 12 pedagogical principles (Scardamalia, 2006), and a software, Knowledge Forum, is used to provide the discussion space to support students’ online knowledge building. In Knowledge Forum a set of scaffolding tools is available to support users to create and build-on theories and explanations, ask questions, and share resources. Research highlights how students are able to develop knowledge creating capacity using this model (refer reference list). The KBC model has also been used in teachers’ PLD to support teachers to develop new pedagogical practices (Chai & Merry, 2006; Chai & Tang, 2009), However, more research is needed to validate its use as a PLD model, as published studies are primarily exploratory in nature, and involve few participants.
Based on the knowledge building approach (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2006), the PLD community developed for this study was framed by the following principles:
Goal: The goal of the PLD community was to create new pedagogical knowledge collaboratively.
Process: Teachers engaged in regular online and face-to-face dialogues within the community in order to contribute and develop ideas and knowledge.
Roles and responsibilities: This community emphasised teacher agency, as well as individual and collective responsibilities in developing and sustaining idea developments. Teachers would collaborate with the researchers to conduct research in their classes.
Teachers in this PLD community regularly met in face-to-face meetings and online. During the meetings, teachers studied and discussed literature related to the KBC model (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2006), collaborated to prepare lessons, made pedagogical and research decisions, and developed ideas for their class teaching. They also reflected on the progress of their knowledge building classes, and undertook data analysis and evaluation. Between meetings, the teachers used video-conferencing to communicate, as well as a Google community to connect and further develop ideas. A website was set up to archive articles and video clips, and provide links to blogs. Teachers presented their findings individually and collectively in conferences and symposiums, and published articles with the researchers (Lai, 2015; Lai et al., 2012).
References Chai, C-S. & Tan, S-C. (2009). Professional development of teachers for computer-supported collaborative learning: A knowledge-building approach. Teachers College Record, 111(5), 1296-1327. Hargreaves, D. (1999b). The Knowledge Creating School. British Journal of Education Studies, 47, 122 – 144. Henderson, B. (2012). Teacher research: Effects on professional development and professional identity. Voices of Practitioners, 7(1), 1-6. Lai, K.W. (2014). Transforming schools as knowledge building Communities: From theory to practice. Set: Research Information for Teachers, (1), 33-41. Lai, K.W. (2015). Designing knowledge building communities in schools. Knowledge Building New Zealand. Lai, K.W., Bolton, C., Bennett, C., Campbell, M., Kelly, S., Proctor, T.Y., Pullar, K., Sudlow, D., & Zaloum, T. (2012). Designing knowledge building communities in New Zealand secondary schools: Some preliminary reflections. Computers in New Zealand Schools, 24(3), 278-307. Lasky, S. (2005). A sociocultural approach to understanding teacher identity, agency and professional vulnerability in a context of secondary school reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 899-916. Lee, E, Y, C., Chan,C.K.K., & van Aalst, J. (2006). Students assessing their own collaborative knowledge building. Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 1, 57–87. Sachs, J. (2001). Teacher professional identity: Competing discourses, competing outcomes. Journal of Education Policy, 16(2), 149-161. Scardamalia, M. & Bereiter, C. (2006). Knowledge building: Theory, pedagogy, and technology. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 97-118). New York: Cambridge University Press. So, H-J., Seah, L., & Toh-Heng, H. (2010). Designing collaborative knowledge building environments accessible to all learners: Impacts and design challenge. Computers & Education, 54, 479-490. Zhang, J., Scardamalia, M., Lamon, M., Messina,R., & Reeve R. (2007). Socio-cognitive dynamics of knowledge building in the work of 9 and 10 year olds. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55,117–145.
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