Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Education Theory and Practice


Curriculum and Instruction

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 247 pages) : PDF file, illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Judith Langer

Committee Members

Arthur Applebee, Jianwei Zhang


design experiment, English education, knowledge buillding, literacy, Literacy, Reading (Elementary), Reading, Psychology of, Reading comprehension, Critical thinking in children

Subject Categories

Education | Language and Literacy Education | Secondary Education


The purpose of this design-based experiment is two-fold: to see if classroom pedagogies can be developed to improve student achievement in English literature as well as prepare them for 21st Century literacies. Applying Bereiter and Scardamalia's theory of Knowledge Building to English curricula, this experiment tracked the progress of a sixth grade Language Arts class as they engaged in creating theories of literary interpretation supported by Knowledge Forum, a computer-supported, on-line learning environment. The study revealed several key findings concerning how knowledge-building can support student's attainment of "high literacy" in the reading of literature, including maintaining idea diversity, the importance of tentativeness, the manifestations of conceptual artifacts that foster students' co-creation of literary theories, and students constructive use of digital scaffolds appropriate for progressive, literary discourse. Knowledge building supported by Knowledge Forum demonstrated positive effects on student internalization of high literacy skills of thinking, writing, speaking, and listening to others students as they developed more sophisticated literary understandings.