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The Development of Students' Identities as Knowledge Builders

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SIKB (The Development of Students' Identities as Knowledge Builders)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2020-08-31

The ubiquity of collaborative knowledge building in all sectors of today’s technology-laden society, including industry, government, and cyber activities, opens new challenges about how to socialize children towards honing contemporary skills, roles and practices. This research addresses the challenge of designing classrooms that encourage students to go beyond acquiring knowledge, and learn to participate in and become members of a culture devoted to expanding the frontiers of knowledge. Advancing students' identities as knowledge builders supports the efforts to make scientific progress, to uphold democratic ideals, creatively innovate, and engage in concerted entrepreneurship. These are the types of citizens that are needed to ensure that the globalized world can address the multitude of challenges it is facing. There are two overall conclusions to this action. The first elucidated the way students' identities as knowledge builders develop and created a set of design principles that educational practitioners can use to best support these developments. The second conclusion was the establishment of a network of European researchers who advance scholarship in partnerships with schools around this topic, share findings, disseminate and best exploit results from ongoing research in this area.
The primary work performed during the first period consisted of developing research-practice partnerships with schools in Albany, New York, and to carry out classroom-based research on innovate forms of teaching that advance students' identities as knowledge builders. Two iterations, each lasting several months, in classrooms were carried out by teachers during this period. My main task was to collect and analyze data from the students engaged in these classrooms. Additionally, during this period I created the infrastructure to build a network of European researchers so that the plan can come to fruition during the second stage. The main results achieved during this stage are one research publication in a top educational journal as well as other dissemination activities that explain the importance and rationale for this work. During the second period of this research, I continued to refine the classroom interventions, building on what was learned from Albany but applying it to a new setting in Haifa, Israel. I also continued to build the network by building an infrastructure for continued activities and formally announcing it. The combined iterations of the implementation led to several important results that have been disseminated widely in academic, public, and policy channels. Specifically, there are now clear results explaining how students' identities as knowledge builders develop as well as how to design learning environments that can successfully foster transformative learning that can prepare students for the digital age.
Beyond directly affecting the schools, teachers, and students directly engaged in this research, the results of this study provide us new ways to examine learning by taking the perspective of students as lifelong, lifewide, and lifedeep knowledge builders. Having this perspective helps to re-frame how classrooms can be organised so that what students learn is better connected and relevant to their lives and to the challenges of contemporary society. This has the potential to have a broad impact for the development of educational curricula and assessment. Additionally, a network of European researchers who engage in efforts on common goals has been established, laying the infrastructure for a sustained and wider impact in this area of educational research.
Grade 5 class in Albany, New York, studying ecology as a knowledge building community