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This study explores Knowledge Building as a principle-based innovation at an elementary school and makes a case for a principle- versus procedure-based approach to educational innovation, supported by new knowledge media. Thirty-nine Knowledge Building initiatives, each focused on a curriculum theme and facilitated by nine teachers over eight years, were analyzed using measures of student discourse in a Knowledge Building environment--Knowledge Forum. Results were analyzed from the perspective of student, teacher, and principal engagement to identify conditions for Knowledge Building as a school-wide innovation. Analyses of student discourse showed interactive and complementary contributions to a community knowledge space, conceptual content of growing scope and depth, and collective responsibility for knowledge advancement. Analyses of teacher and principal engagement showed supportive conditions such as shared vision; trust in student competencies to the point of enabling transfer of agency for knowledge advancement to students; ever-deepening understanding of Knowledge Building principles; knowledge emergent through collective responsibility; a coherent systems perspective; teacher professional Knowledge Building communities; and leadership supportive of innovation at all levels. More substantial advances for students were related to years of teachers’ experience in this progressive knowledge-advancing enterprise.


This is the Author's Original Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of the Learning Sciences on April 20, 2011, available online:

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