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Curriculum, Teaching  & Learning
Marlene Scardamalia

Marlene Scardamalia

phone: (416) 978-0362

Curriculum, Teaching and Learning

Centre for Applied Cognitive Science
Institute for Knowledge, Innovation and Technology

Research Overview

Marlene Scardamalia is the inaugural Presidents’ Chair and University Distinguished Professor of Knowledge Innovation & Technology. She directs the Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology and is President of Knowledge Building International. In these various capacities she leads a worldwide innovation network transforming schools for education for knowledge creation. The coherent effect of her work rests with Knowledge Building theoretical models, social structures, pedagogies, and technologies to enable “a place for everyone in a knowledge society.” A visionary UNESCO document stated ‘Nobody should be excluded from knowledge societies, where knowledge is a public good, available to each and every individual.’ Standing in the way of that vision is education’s failure to democratize knowledge. The rich-get-richer story of modern times is as true for education as for the economy; those who enter school with more knowledge leave with disproportionately more. In the meantime, a free, plentiful and equalizing resource—students’ capacity for creative work with ideas—remains underdeveloped. Scardamalia’s research is providing evidence that children from diverse backgrounds can actually be knowledge creators, advancing the state of knowledge in their community—whether that community is an urban class studying mathematics, a school in the far north documenting oral history from elders, or schools widely separated geographically and culturally working together to understand Newtonian physics. Her research has uncovered capabilities well in advance of what previous research in developmental psychology indicated possible, in diverse areas such as children’s logical capabilities, written composition, intentional learning, and knowledge creation. Professor Scardamalia invented the first computer-based collaborative learning environment, now known as Knowledge Forum. This environment has been continually refined to support collective responsibility for knowledge advancement, enabling discovery of new competencies with benefit for all. Scardamalia’s publications, including curriculum and policy publications and technology interfaces, have been translated into more than 15 languages.

Curriculum Vitae

Academic History

Ph.D. Applied Psychology, University of Toronto, OISE, 1973
M.S. Educational Research-Educational Psychology, Bucknell University, 1968
B.A. English (Teaching Certificate) Clarion State College, 1966

Teaching Overview

Professor Scardamalia’s graduate courses include Knowledge Building Theory, Pedagogy and Technology); 21st Century Competencies, Multiliteracies, and Assessment; Education for a Knowledge Creating Society; Open Learning; Practicum in Educational Innovations; Design Research; and Online Learning & Knowledge Work. She has taught pre-service, in-service and graduate courses, and engages students at different levels in cultural norms prevalent in innovative, knowledge-creating organizations: collective responsibility for community, not simply personal knowledge; sustained idea improvement; a “surpassing ourselves” mindset; and students taking charge at levels customarily reserved for teachers, curriculum, and technology designers. Students in her courses typically work alongside teachers, researchers, and computer scientists to design and implement new knowledge practices and technologies.

Representative Publications

According to Google Scholar, Scardamalia’s research publications, which include the highest-impact journals in educational psychology and technology, have had exceptional scholarly impact.  A 2017 survey by Yoon and Hmelo-Silver identified knowledge building as the most frequently reported research interest of learning scientists worldwide. Examples of articles for the following research interests are presented below: Knowledge Building theory, pedagogy and technology; education for knowledge creation; the nature of expertise; new knowledge media; self-organization; emergence of new competencies; psychology of writing; transliteracy/multiliteracies; cognitive development; and technology optimized for knowledge creation.


Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (in preparation). Foundations of Knowledge Building: Education for Knowledge-Creation. New York, NY: Routledge

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (in press). Knowledge Building. In U. Cress, C. Rosé, A. Wise, & J. Oshima (Eds.), International Handbook of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. Springer.

Scardamalia, M. (2017). Knowledge Forum. In K. Peppler (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Out-of School Learning (pp. 401-403). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. 

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2015). Education in an open informational world. In R. Scott, and S. Kosslyn (Eds.). Emerging trends in the social and behavioral sciences. Wiley Online Library.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2014, 2006). Knowledge building and knowledge creation: Theory, pedagogy, and technology. In K. Sawyer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (Second Edition) (pp. 397-417). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Scardamalia, M., Bransford, J., Kozma, R., & Quellmalz, E. (2012). New assessments and environments for knowledge building. In P. Griffin, B. McGaw, & E. Care (Eds.), Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (pp. 231-300). Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Scardamalia, M. (2004). CSILE/Knowledge Forum®. In A. Kovalchick & K. Dawson (Eds.), Education and technology: An Encyclopedia (pp. 183-192). Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Scardamalia, M. (2003). Knowledge building environments: Extending the limits of the possible in education and knowledge work. In A. DiStefano, K. E. Rudestam, & R. Silverman (Eds.), Encyclopedia of distributed learning (pp. 269-272). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Scardamalia, M. (2002). Collective cognitive responsibility for the advancement of knowledge. In B. Smith (Ed.) Liberal education in a knowledge society (pp. 67-98). Chicago: Open Court.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1999). Schools as knowledge-building organizations. In D. P. Keating & C. Hertzman (Eds.), Developmental health and the wealth of nations. Social, biological, and educational dynamics (pp. 274-289). New York: Guilford.

Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1993). Surpassing ourselves: An inquiry into the nature and implications of expertise. Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court.

Scardamalia, M, & Bereiter, C. (1987). Knowledge telling and knowledge transforming in written composition. In S. Rosenberg (Ed.), Advances in applied psycholinguistics: Vol. 2. Reading, writing, and language learning (pp. 142-175). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1987). The psychology of written composition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Scardamalia, M. (1981). How children cope with the cognitive demands of writing. In C. H. Frederiksen & J. F. Dominic (Eds.), Writing: The nature, development and teaching of written communication (Vol. 2, pp. 81-103). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


Ma, L., Matsuzawa, Y., & Scardamalia, M. (2016). Rotating leadership and collective responsibility in a grade 4 Knowledge Building classroom. International Journal of Organisational Design and Engineering (IJODE), 4(1-2), 54-84.

Chen, B., Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2015). Advancing Knowledge Building Discourse through Judgments of Promising Ideas. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (ijCSCL), (DOI) 10.1007/s11412-015-9225-z

Resendes, M., Scardamalia, M., Bereiter, C., Chen, B., & Halewood, C. (2015). Group-level formative feedback and metadiscourse. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 10(3), pp 309-336.

     Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2014). Smart technology for self-organizing processes. Smart Learning Environments. 2014,       1:1.

Goldman, S. R., & Scardamalia, M. (Eds.). (2013). Multiple document comprehension [Special issue]. Cognition and Instruction, 31(2).

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2005). Does education for the knowledge age need a new science? European Journal of School Psychology, 3(1), 263-282.

Scardamalia, M. (2004). Instruction, learning, and knowledge building: Harnessing theory, design, and innovation dynamics. Educational Technology, 44(3), 30-33.

Scardamalia, M. (2001). Getting real about 21st century education. The Journal of Educational Change, 2, 171-176.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1992). Text-based and knowledge-based questioning by children. Cognition and Instruction, 9(3), 177-199.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1991). Higher levels of agency for children in knowledge-building: A challenge for the design of new knowledge media. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 1(1), 37-68;

Scardamalia, M., Bereiter, C., McLean, R. S., Swallow, J., & Woodruff, E. (1989). Computer supported intentional learning environments. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 5, 51-68.

Scardamalia, M., Bereiter, C., & Steinbach, R. (1984). Teachability of reflective processes in written composition. Cognitive Science, 8(2), 173-190.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1979). Review of The Philosophy of Composition by E. D. Hirsch Jr. Harvard Educational Review, 49(1), 116-119.




Research Grants and Contracts

Dr. Scardamalia is a scholar of global standing, with tens of millions of dollars in research funding secured from granting councils and foundations in Canada and internationally. Representative grants from different areas of investigation are presented below.

2014 - 2023 • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Insight Grants. Title: Can digitally-mediated group knowledge processes enhance individual achievement in literacy and numeracy? M. Scardamalia (Applicant) • CAD $468,530
2014 - 2017 • Ministry of Education Ontario, Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat Leading Student Achievement grant. Title: Knowledge Building Theory, Pedagogy, and Technology. (M. Scardamalia). • CAD $440,000
2014 - 2018 • National Science Foundation. Cyberlearning. Title: DIP: Connecting Idea Threads across Communities for Sustained Knowledge Building. J. Zhang (Applicant), Scardamalia, M., Chen, M.H., Penstein Rose, C., Chen, F. (Co - Applicants). • CAD $1,342,537
2009 - 2013 • Canadian Foundation for Innovation. Title: The Inclusive Design Institute. Treviranus, J. (Applicant), Scardamalia, M. (Collaborator) • CAD $6,207,874
2008 - 2014 • Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Title: CIHR Strategic Training Program in Work Disability Prevention. Loisel, P. (Applicant), Scardamalia, M. (Co - Applicant). • CAD $1,950,000
2007 - 2009 • Canadian Council on Learning. Title: Understanding the Nature of Science and Scientific Progress: A Theory - Building Approach. (Scardamalia, M.) • CAD $70,000
2002 - 2004 • Office of the Learning Technologies. Title: Knowledge Innovation: Models that Unite rather than Divide the Knowledge Society. (Scardamalia, M.) • CAD $200,000
2002 - 2004 • CANARIE Inc. E - Learning Program. Title: Interprofessional Knowledge Building in Health Care. (Scardamalia, M.) • CAD $499,198
2002 - 2008 • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Initiative on the New Economy (INE) Collaborative Research Initiative program. Title: Beyond best practice: Research - based innovation in learning and knowledge work. (Scardamalia, M.) • CAD $2,995,834
1999 - 2004 • Networks of Centres of Excellence. Title: Beyond Schooling: Situating the K - 12 Research Agenda in a Knowledge Society. Project #4.21 (Scardamalia, M.) • CAD $1,240,035
1996 - 1999 • Bell Canada. Title: Integrating Home, School, and Global Knowledge - Building Communities (Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C.) • CAD $913,000
1995 - 1999 • Networks of Centres of Excellence. Title: TeleLearning - NCE (Sub - Project: Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C.) • CAD $1,540,000
1994 - 1995 • The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Title: Educational Technology and Indigenous Cultures: Addressing Issues of Equity, Cooperation and Empowerment (Scardamalia, M., Woodruff, E., & McAuley, S.) • CAD $25,000
1994 - 1996 • James S. McDonnell Foundation. Title: Schools for Thought (Sub - Project Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C.) • CAD $634,231
1990 - 1992 • APPLE Computers Inc. Title: A knowledge - building architecture for computer - supported learning (Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C.) • CAD $813,600
1989 - 1990 • Ministry of Colleges and Universities, University Research Incentive Fund. Title: Enhancements to Enable CSILE to Act as an Intelligent Shell for Other Educational Software (Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. • CAD $250,000
1988 - 1991 • IBM. Title: Support for AI - based CSILE enhancements on IBM RT's (Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C.) • CAD $575,000 (plus CAD $600,000 equipment)
1988 - 1989 • Charles R. Bronfman Foundation (Planning Grant). Title: Interactive Video Technologies for CSILE (Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C.) • CAD $25,000
1988 - 1990 • APPLE Computers Inc. Title: The Design of Knowledge - Building Environments (Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C.) • CAD $632,250 (plus $1,170,000 equipment)
1979 - 1984 • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Title: A Cognitively Based K - 12 Program in Expository Writing • CAD $191,000

Honours and Awards

Recognition of Scardamalia’s work includes a World Cultural Council award for “revolutionizing schooling.” She was awarded the inaugural Presidents’ Chair in Knowledge Innovation & Technology at the University of Toronto in 2002 and named the University’s Distinguished Professor for pre-eminence in that field, a title reserved for faculty achieving the highest level of accomplishment in their field. She has been recognized by the most prestigious organizations in her field: in 1995 elected to the U.S. National Academy of Education (second Canadian so recognized) and awarded fellowships at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford), the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (Human Development Program), American Educational Research Association, and Canadian Psychological Association. She has received an honorary doctorate from University of Joensuu, Finland and honorary diplomas from the World Federation of Associations of Teacher Education and the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences. Other awards include Distinguished Scholar, Research in Reading and Literacy (AERA); Career Achievement Award (Computer Supported Collaborative Work); “Contribution to Knowledge” award (Ontario Psychological Foundation), Spencer Research Award (National Academy of Education); Researcher of the Year (Canadian Telelearning Network of Centres of Excellence), a several first prize/outstanding manuscript awards. Under her leadership the Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology received the ORION award for research-based innovations. Her research has resulted in high profile visiting professorships (American Institutes for Research, California; Onwel Visiting Fellow, University of Hong Kong; George A. Miller Visiting Professorship, University of Illinois; Visiting Professorship, Hiroshima University, Japan). She has served on over 40 task-forces, advisory boards, and consultancies, including the Intel, Cisco, and Microsoft initiative in “Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills”; PISA 2022 Creative Thinking Expert Group; International Advisory Panel, National Institute of Education, Singapore; Advisory Board, Pearson and Gates Foundations, language and curriculum reforms.

Professional Activities

Scardamalia has served on editorial boards for some of the most prominent journals and handbooks in her field. Editorial responsibilities have included Executive Editor, Cognition and Instruction; Editorial Advisory Board, Handbook of the Learning Sciences and Encyclopedia of Virtual Worlds and Environment; Contributing Editor, Educational Technology: The Magazine for Managers of Change in Education; Guest Editor, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology Special Issues on Knowledge Building. She also serves on editorial boards for a wide range of journals in her areas of specialization; for example, International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Educational Psychologist, European Journal of School Psychology, International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation; Education, Communication, and Information; Qwerty: Journal of Technology and Culture and L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literacy.

Scardamalia works with engineers internationally to continuously improve technology to enable rather than presume knowledge creation and to close gaps between in-and-out-of-school work. As an indication of the power of the underlying concept of Knowledge Forum technology, it is used effectively for these purposes with students grade 1 to graduate school and contexts as diverse as knowledge management; professional development; software design; health care, police academy, and inter-professional learning and team-building. Recent developments include a suite of sophisticated analytic tools that children as young as grade 2 have used to reflect on and advance their state of knowledge.

She has written extensively on topics related to her research and lectured internationally, presenting keynote addresses and invited presentations in over 30 countries.

Other Information

Dr. Scardamalia’s leadership shows through in non-stop administrative positions: Head, Developmental Division, Department of Psychology, York University; Head, Center for Applied Cognitive Science; Director, Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology (IKIT), Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Under her leadership IKIT received the Learning Award for leadership in research-based innovations for “producing striking advances across sectors and at all levels from pre-kindergarten to professional continuing education.” As President of Knowledge Building International she has chaired the Knowledge Building Summer Institutes, now entering their 24th year. She has worked to establish collaborative arrangements with ministries of education, school boards, national labs, institutes, NGOs, and designers, practitioners, engineers, policy makers, and researchers of renown working together to extend the limits of the possible in education. Three sources alone—a 2016 review “Schools as Knowledge-Building Organizations: Thirty Years of Design Research,” published in Educational Psychologist (Chen & Hong, 2016) and special issues on Knowledge Building (Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology and QWERTY: Journal of Technology and Culture)--bring together the work of approximately 100 authors representing 25 countries and 15 disciplines. The international knowledge building network has enabled a multi-cultural, multilingual, research programme, with over a decade of data in several nations to support longitudinal investigations; teacher-researcher-government partnerships are enabling systemic changes and new forms of teacher education.