Instructional Guidance in the Learning Sciences: The Case of Knowledge Building

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Speakers: Dr. Jan van Aalst and Professor Carol Chan, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong

Date: 11 May 2016 (Wednesday)

Time:12:30-2:00 pm

Venue: Room 205 Runme Shaw Building

Respondent: Professor Manu Kapur, Department of Psychological Studies, The Hong Kong Institute of Education

Chair: Professor Amy Tsui




One of the most enduring debates in the learning sciences concerns the extent, nature and timing of instructional guidance, some traditions favouring more guidance through achieving pre-set goals, task design and teacher actions, and others others favouring more open approaches. In this talk we examine this question from the perspective of knowledge building, an educational model that emphasizes the advancement of knowledge in communities similar to how knowledge is advanced in scientific fields. We will examine the theoretical issues underlying the debates, review what knowledge building is, and illustrate the question with results from Hong Kong and abroad.

About the speakers: 

Dr. Jan van Aalst is Associate Professor and Assistant Dean (Centres and Proposals) in the Faculty of Education. He leads “Designing Powerful Learning Environments, a Masters of Education stream in the learning sciences. He has been named Editor-in-Chief of Journal of the Learning Sciences for 2017-2020 and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Society of the Learning Sciences. His research focuses on the assessment and classroom practice of knowledge building.

Carol Kwai-Kuen Chan is Professor at the Faculty of Education and Co-Convenor of the Strategic Research Theme on Science of Learning. Her research in learning sciences examines theories of how people learn and designs for promoting complex learning. She is internationally known for her research on knowledge building that examines how students engage in problem-centred inquiry for knowledge creation supported by Knowledge Forum. She is Associate Editor of International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning and serves on editorial boards of several prestigious journals in education and psychology. Her research also examines the socio-cultural context of learning including the edited volume Revisiting the Chinese learners. With her team, she has won international research awards from American Educational Research Association and International Society of Learning Sciences and she is also a recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Teacher and University Teacher Fellow awards.

About the respondent: 

Professor Manu Kapur

Professor Manu Kapur is a Professor of Psychological Studies at The Hong Kong Institute of Education. Manu’s research interests lie at the intersection of the learning sciences, educational psychology, and mathematics education. He is widely known for his research on Productive Failure, and has published in the top journals in the field. Manu is a sought-after keynoter at major international conferences, and his research has received prolific media coverage from the likes of TIME magazine, as well as international newspapers and media. For more information, please visit