GUEST POST: Developing a Culture of Collective Knowledge Building with Students

GUEST POST: Developing a Culture of Collective Knowledge Building with Students

5.    Observe students in a more purposeful, indepth way and more frequently. This is the most effective tool a teacher can use to build essential knowledge about their class.

●    ‘Sit back’ more, and be consciously less directive and more observant.

●   Watch students learn, taking note of specific behaviours, language and actions that promote collective learning, as well as the knowledge gained.

●   Be more intentional in sharing observations about learning with the class, e.g. “I noticed…How do you think that might have helped build the learning of the group?” This increases students’ awareness of the collective knowledge being built throughout the learning process.

●   Intentionally set up learning tasks where students are not reliant on teacher help so they can be observed and support one another to learn.

●   Note particularly the students who need more support with working collaboratively and implement effective ways to integrate them and bring out their best.


6.    Videotape students working in learning groups for the purpose of making the learning more visible.

●   Take short pieces of video (1-3 minutes) of different groups working, at different points in their collective learning process.

●   Use the videos for class self-reflection and learning about collaborative learning behaviors and skills, including body language, verbal prompts and actions.

●   Use the videos to identify and encourage effective learning; what it looks like and how it happens.

●   Use the videos to make comparisons (e.g. how the groups were chosen and group sizes) so students gain awareness of how and why they learn best when working with different individuals in learning groups.


7.    Reflect together with the class more often and more intentionally.

●   Reflection makes the learning journey more visible and understandable so is an essential part of collective knowledge building.

●   Discuss social aspects of how groups worked together, focusing especially on positive skills being used but also problem solving together as needed.

●   Discuss how the knowledge was built upon by different group members to build students’ awareness of what collective knowledge building can achieve.

●   Questions used during reflections are powerful tools to help students become more aware of who they learn best with and why.

●   Discuss the process but also the product (the learning) and the way the two work together.


These seven strategies enabled my students to become more than simply collaborative learners and I am confident they can do the same for other teachers. Students become excited to see themselves as valuable contributors to the collective learning of the class. They become increasingly accurate in identifying who they learn best with and more open-minded about working with a variety of different classmates. They become more aware of how new knowledge and understanding is built on and what this looks like in practical terms. They become eager to support one another and build knowledge together. When they are supported to develop a classroom culture in which collective knowledge building is valued, students can become not just knowledge gainers but knowledge creators, as they co-construct their learning journey together.