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Learning Environments Research

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 23–44 | Cite as

Activity Theory as a Framework for Analysing Knowledge Building

  • Jan Van Aalst
  • Cher M. Hill
Article

Abstract

Content analyses of computer databases parsed into notes or ideas do not shed adequate light on the role of collaboration and the Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning environment in knowledge building; analysis of what is happening in the classroom and how students interpret that is also needed. This study used ethnographic methods to explore activity theory as an analytic framework for knowledge building, drawing from a class of Grade 4 students’ contributions to online and face-to-face discourse over a period of five months, as well as end-of-year interviews with the students. The analysis focuses on four issues: community; rules; mediating artefacts; and division of labour. The findings indicate how understanding such issues can lead to better understanding of collaboration and of the role of the online environment. The use of activity theory as a framework for improving pedagogy aimed at knowledge building is also outlined.

Keywords

activity theory collaboration CSCL knowledge building mediating artefact 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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