Promoting knowledge creation discourse in an asian primary five classroom: Results from an inquiry into life cycles

Jan van Aalst*, Mya Sioux Truong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


The phrase 'knowledge creation' refers to the practices by which a community advances its collective knowledge. Experience with a model of knowledge creation could help students to learn about the nature of science. This research examined how much progress a teacher and 16 Primary Five (Grade 4) students in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme could make towards the discourse needed for Bereiter and Scardamalia's model of knowledge creation. The study consisted of two phases: a five-month period focusing on the development of the classroom ethos and skills needed for this model (Phase 1), followed by a two-month inquiry into life cycles (Phase 2). In Phase 1, we examined the classroom practices that are thought to support knowledge creation and the early experiences of the students with a web-based inquiry environment, Knowledge Forum®. In Phase 2, we conducted a summative evaluation of the students' work in Knowledge Forum in the light of the model. The data sources included classroom video recordings, artefacts of the in-class work, the Knowledge Forum database, a science content test, questionnaires, and interviews. The findings indicate that the students made substantial progress towards the knowledge creation discourse, particularly regarding the social structure of this kind of discourse and, to a lesser extent, its idea-centred nature. They also made acceptable advances in scientific knowledge and appeared to enjoy this way of learning. The study provides one of the first accounts in the literature of how a teacher new to the knowledge creation model enacted it in an Asian primary classroom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-515
Number of pages29
JournalInternational journal of science education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Discourse
  • Inquiry-based teaching
  • Internet
  • Nature of science
  • Primary school


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