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Title: “But I have not started teaching!”: Knowledge building perils
Authors: Tan, Aik-Ling
Tan, Seng Chee, 1965-
Keywords: Knowledge building
Leading in science classrooms
Teachers' beliefs
Issue Date: Nov-2006
Citation: Paper presented at the International Science Education Conference, Singapore, 22-24 November 2006
Abstract: Scardamalia (2002) discussed the knowledge building notion as one which is built on social cognitive principles of learning. She proposed 12 principles focusing on collaborative knowing among students gearing toward building a community of learners in classrooms. However, how teachers become the key mediator for fostering knowledge building in classrooms is not fully explored. This study aims to contribute to the knowledge building research in terms of teacher professional development. Set in Singapore, where the dominant pedagogy is teachercentred and routinised (Luke, Cazden, Lin & Freebody 2005), this paper examines the journey taken by two biology teachers trying to reform their classrooms by incorporating knowledge building principles. In one of our email exchanges with a teacher, she was exasperated with her attempt to bring knowledge building into her classroom. After a few sessions, she exclaimed “But I have not started teaching!” This prompted us to seek answers to the research question “What are the factors that will impact knowledge building efforts in a Singapore science classroom?” Interviews and transcript analysis of classroom lessons are used as data and interpretive methods of data analysis are used in this paper. The beliefs of the teachers are elicited through a semi-structured interview which takes the form of a post-lesson dialogue in this paper. The results of this study revealed three key areas of concern in adopting knowledge building principles, namely, renegotiation of institutional authority, changing beliefs about teaching, and learning and building students’ capacity for epistemic agency. In order for teachers to transform their practices in the classroom, there needs to be a structured and concerted understanding of these factors.
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