Dr. Jianwei Zhang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice (ETAP) at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He served as ETAP Chair between 2015-2018. His research explores social and cognitive dynamics of collaborative learning and knowledge building supported by new technology.
Funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) and other sources, Dr. Zhang works with an interdisciplinary team of researchers and educators to create pedagogical, technological, and analytics support for collaborative knowledge building. In a network of classrooms, students work across social and disciplinary boundaries to investigate authentic challenges facing the local and global communities, leveraging creative knowledge processes and technologies that are essential to the 21st century world. The research findings shed light on new learning configurations and educational practices, including student-driven collective inquiry across curriculum boundaries; flexible “opportunistic collaboration” beyond fixed groups; cross-community collaboration; and agentic co-regulation of shared inquiry goals and processes through “reflective structuration.” To support the dynamic knowledge processes, Dr. Zhang created Idea Thread Mapper (ITM) (with computer scientist Dr. Mei-Hwa Chen), a visual collaboration platform that supports knowledge building in each classroom and idea interaction across communities. A rich set of learning analytics has been tested and incorporated to enhance students’ collaborative discourse and teacher scaffolding.
Dr. Zhang’s publications have appeared in prestigious journals such as the Journal of the Learning Sciences, International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, Educational Researcher and Educational Technology Research and Development (ETR&D). Several of his publications received best paper awards (e.g. ETR&D 2007 and 2010). He currently serves as Co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Learning Sciences, a flagship journal of the International Society of the Learning Sciences.
In his teaching and mentoring, Dr. Zhang is devoted to creating a collaborative knowledge community among his own students. Members of his classes have created a rich set of mini-courses targeting teacher learning as part of the Knowledge Network for Innovations in Learning and Teaching (https://knilt.arcc.albany.edu/)
Dr. Zhang earned his doctorate (educational psychology) from Beijing Normal University. Prior to coming to Albany, he had been a postdoctoral fellow at OISE/University of Toronto and a faculty member at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Research Lab: https://tccl.arcc.albany.edu