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Exploring participation in knowledge building: An analysis of online discussions in mainstream and honours social studies courses

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Author: Niu, Hui
Some new instructional approaches that emphasize inquiry involve asynchronous online discussions, but many teachers question to what extent most students in a class participate in such discussions. This thesis e.xamines this issue in the context of knowledge building, drawing from two implementations of the same inquiry unit conducted by students from a mainstream and an honours version of a tenth grade social studies course (N = 100). In each implementation, students collaborated in small groups to propose solutions to current environmental problems. The research questions focused on participation patterns as revealed by server log data, the extent to which the discussions could be considered examples of knowledge building, and the influence of several moderating variables on participation. Findings indicated there was substantial evidence for knowledge building in all classes; differences for participation measures were stronger between collaborative groups than between mainstream and honours classes.
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