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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Knowledge Construction Online: A Peek at the Process

Sima Sengupta.

Increasingly educational experts are emphasizing students' active knowledge construction i.e. the idea that people learn by actively and collaboratively constructing new knowledge, rather than passive transmission of information from instructor to student - information 'poured' into their heads. The aim of this paper is to understand the process of active knowledge construction by studying students’ web board discussions and online learning logs. This paper presents the various kinds of knowledge construction that were identified as university learners participated in a number of asynchronous discussions around language topics and wrote their learning logs on the web in four partially web-based classrooms. The learners were all Hong Kong Cantonese undergraduate students completing degrees in languages, mostly females. Through recursive reading of the textual data on the web and face-to-face student interviews with 20 students, we found four categories of knowledge construction: Re-interpretation, Application, Extension (of previously held knowledge) and Regurgitation.

The four categories of knowledge construction indicate that though key issues within a course are personalized and applied differently, there seems to be a pattern in the meaning making process. The findings provide information regarding the cognitive and affective factors that can be fostered through web-based language classrooms.


Sima Sengupta  (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China)
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Sima Sengupta teaches English language at the Department of English, in the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. Her research interests lie in literacy development and online education.

  • Knowledge construction
  • Mmeaning making

(30 min Conference Paper, English)