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“But I have not started teaching!”: Knowledge building perils
Knowledge building
Leading in science classrooms
Teachers' beliefs
Issue Date: 
Tan, A. L., & Tan, S. C. (2006). “But I have not started teaching!”: Knowledge building perils. In Y. J. Lee, A. L. Tan & B. T. Ho (Eds.), Proceedings of ISEC 2006 (pp. 849-857). Singapore: National Institute of Education.
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.
This paper was presented at the International Science Education Conference (ISEC 2006), held in Singapore from 22 - 24 Nov 2006
Appears in Collections:Conference Papers

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