Pilgrims’ Progress: The journey towards a knowledge building community in a university undergraduate class

June 17, 2012


The purpose of this study was to examine the progress of a class of third- and fourth-year undergraduate science students as they attempted to create a knowledge building community in a blended or hybrid science education class. The research sought to examine this process through analyses of the frequency of their note postings and responses, and through a social network analysis of their communication patterns for note reading. These data were automatically harvested by the Knowledge Forum knowledge building environment, and downloaded for later analysis.

Contribution levels indicated that the frequency of note postings increased three-fold following the mid-term of the course causing maladaptive student work patterns to reduce information overload. As well, the disparity between high-frequency note posting students and low-frequency note posting students followed a linear curve with the ratio between the highest posting and lowest posting student to be 2.7:1. A similar pattern was found with regard to responses.

A disparity was also found among the students in the number of postings read, with the highest note reading student reading six times the number of notes as the lowest note reading student.The social network analyses revealed evidence of community formation in the note reading network. Analysis showed both one-way and reciprocal interactions, indicating that the pathways needed for the transfer of complex information were present.

Considering all the data together, while some communication patterns necessary for a knowledge building community were present, contribution patterns suggested that a true knowledge building community did not form, but that there was progress towards it.

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

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