Cultivating a Community of Learners in K–12 Classrooms

Authored by: Katerine Bielaczyc , Manu Kapur , Allan Collins

The International Handbook of Collaborative Learning

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415805735
eBook ISBN: 9780203837290
Adobe ISBN: 9781136869556


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The goal of communities of learners (CoL) models is to foster deep disciplinary understanding—an understanding of both subject matter and the ways the disciplinary community works with knowledge in a domain. Through working collectively to carry out investigations, learners develop the agency and social capacities necessary for creatively working with knowledge. Such models require teachers and students to engage in new modes of inquiry that tend to be very different from the ways in which learning and teaching occur in more traditional classrooms. In fact, we have previously described this type of educational model as a “radical reconceptualization of educational practice” (Bielaczyc & Collins, 1999). Similarly, Bereiter (2002) claims “Students need to be socialized into the world of work with knowledge, and that is an even more radical cultural change than becoming ‘digital’” (p. 220). Thus, we believe that one of the greatest challenges facing the implementation of CoL models concerns how to support the change processes that teachers and their students must move through.

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