AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Fostering collaborative knowledge building through reflective assessment among Chinese tertiary students

by Chunlin Lei

Institution: University of Hong Kong
Degree: PhD
Year: 2014
Keywords: Group work in education
Record ID: 1155827
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10722/197099


This study examines the design, processes and instructional effects of principle-based, student-directed reflective assessments on students’ conceptual understanding and collaborative inquiry in a computer-supported knowledge building environment. Premised on socio-constructivism, knowledge building and classroom learning theories, this study (1) designs a knowledge building environment, informed by knowledge building principles and reflective assessments, and evaluates its effects on students’ conceptual understanding, approaches to learning, and conceptions of collaboration; (2) investigates the role of engagement in Knowledge Forum on students’ conceptual understanding; (3) examines the role of portfolio assessment and other reflective assessment strategies in facilitating deep learning and knowledge building; and (4) characterizes the socio-cognitive dynamics of collaborative knowledge building. Participants of the study were 60 first-year Chinese tertiary students enrolled in a Sino-British joint educational program at a university in Shanghai, China. In a quasi-experimental design, one group of students experienced a knowledge building environment which was informed by knowledge building principles and highlighted concurrent, transformative assessment (reflective assessment strategies). The other group was exposed to a technology-based environment without the mediation of knowledge building principles. Multiple source of data were employed, including surveys, domain tests, academic performance assessments, Knowledge Forum engagement indices, e-portfolio notes, online inquiry threads, student classroom reflective presentations, and end-of-program interviews. Major findings include (1) students in the principle-based environment outperformed their peers in terms of conceptual understanding and deep approaches to learning; (2) student online participation and community connectedness increased over time, and contributed to students’ conceptual understanding over and above their prior domain knowledge; (3) qualitative e-portfolio analyses identified different kinds of student reflection strategies that were correlated with academic performance; (4) analysis of online inquiry threads showed students’ different levels of engagement with four knowledge building principles and suggested knowledge building might be manifested by meta-discourse; (5) Student reflective presentation and interview study further addressed the role of epistemic reflection and collective assessments in scaffolding collaborative knowledge building. This study addresses the problem of aligning social-constructivist theories of learning and assessment. Assessment takes on a new meaning of both assessing and scaffolding group learning and knowledge building. This study may advance current literature on how socio-cognitive principles and social-constructivist assessment can be designed and aligned with learning, collaboration and instruction to promote conceptual understanding and knowledge building. This study also has pedagogical…