Dr. Jianwei Zhang is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University at Albany, State University of New York. His research explores social and cognitive dynamics of collaborative learning and knowledge building supported by new technology-based environments.
Funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) and other sources, Dr. Zhang is leading an interdisciplinary team to create pedagogical and technological support for sustained knowledge building using a principle-based, emergent structuration approach. Beyond short inquiry activities to construct knowledge following given procedures and structures, students co-generate and adapt collective structures of inquiry (conceptual directions, cycles of inquiry, participatory structures) to guide their progressive inquiry and discourse over multiple months. This process is supported by the Idea Thread Mapper (ITM) (created with Mei-Hwa Chen), a software tool to trace collective progress in extended online discourse, feedback on emergent structures, and connect idea threads across communities for mutual build-on and dynamic collaboration. Dr. Zhang’s research has appeared in prestigious journals such as the Journal of the Learning Sciences and Educational Technology Research and Development (ETR&D).
His work has been recognized through a number of awards, including two Outstanding Article awards from ETR&D. He currently serves as Associate Editor of the Journal of the Learning Sciences and as a board member for the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (ijCSCL) and several other journals.
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.