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Knowledge building
Teachers’ beliefs
Leading in science classrooms
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the International Science Education Conference, National Institute of Education, Singapore, Nov 2006
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 teacher-centred
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.
Project number: 
CRP 13/04 MO
Appears in Collections:CRPP - Conference Papers

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