Call for Papers
Instructional Science, Springer
ISSN: 0020-4277 (Print) 1573-1952 (Online)

Special Issue on 
“Revisiting Learning Communities: 
Innovations in Theory and Practice”

Learning Communities (LCs) are a central tenet of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) and the Learning Sciences. Despite the immense contributions of well-known LCs, like Brown and Campione’s Communities of Learners (CoL, 1994), Scardamalia and Bereiter’s Knowledge Building Communities (KBCs, 1994), and Rogoff’s OC (2001), new LCs have emerged in recent years that have yet to be researched together to advance scholarship on them. Now, over two decades since the introduction of LCs, we believe the time is ripe to refresh old syntheses (e.g., Bielaczyc & Collins, 1999) and capture the exciting innovations in theory and practice that have come about within various educational settings like schools (e.g., Herrenkohl & Mertl, 2010; Hogan & Corey, 2001; Lehrer, Schauble, & Lucas, 2008; Zhang, Hong, Scardamalia, & Morley, 2011), universities (Fischer, Rohde, & Wulf, 2007; Hod & Ben-Zvi, 2014), informal settings (e.g., and more recently online (e.g., Kafai & Fields, 2013; Resnick et al., 2009). 

As the effort to consider the different research on LCs remains a largely unexplored challenge for the Learning Sciences, the aim of this proposed special issue of Instructional Science is to revisit conceptualizations, approaches, and designs of LCs with a particular focus on innovations over the past two decades of research on them. Specifically, we are seeking theoretical or empirical papers that touch upon any of the questions below. We note that this list is not exhaustive, and encourage authors to suggest topics of interest related to the special issue theme as well:

● What new conceptualizations of LCs have emerged?
● What are the dynamic patterns of collaboration in LCs?
● What are the inter-relations of individual and LC development?
● How do students’ practices and identities change within LCs?
● What is the process of norm emergence in LCs?
● What new methods have emerged to research LCs?
● What are the different scales of time in LC research?
● What design principles underlie the design of LCs?
● What is the role of digital tools in LCs?

The idea for this special issue builds off of the Collaboration of International Researchers on Learning Communities (CIRCLES,, which aims to reinvigorate research on LCs in the Learning Sciences. CIRCLES is already on its way towards growing as an international body of researchers, with membership that has reached 30 scholars. The group met for the first time in 2014 at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) and again at the 2015 at the International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL). Taking the next step forward in synthesizing and advancing research on LCs, our proposed focus for the special issue emerged from these two international CIRCLES meetings. 

Those interested should submit a 300-500 word synopsis in this online form, outlining the content of the proposed paper by Dec 7, 2015. Synopses must follow APA style for reference citations.

● Invited authors will be notified by Jan 31, 2016. 
● Submission of full papers will be due Jul 31, 2016. 
● Notifications of acceptances: Apr 30, 2017.
● Revised manuscript due: Aug 31, 2017.

Dani Ben-Zvi, University of Haifa,
Katerine Bielaczyc, Clark University,
Yotam Hod, University of Haifa,

Bielaczyc, K., & Collins, A. (1999). Learning communities in classrooms: A reconceptualization of educational practice. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory (pp. 269-292). Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Brown, A. L. & Campione, J. C. (1994). Guided Discovery in a Community of Learners. In K. McGilly (Ed.) Classroom lessons: Integrating cognitive theory and classroom practice (pp. 229-272). Cambridge, UK: The MIT Press.

Fischer, G., Rohde, M., & Wulf, V. (2007). Community-based learning: The core competency of residential, research-based universities. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 2(1), 9-40.

Herrenkohl, L. R., & Mertl, V. (2010). How students come to be, know, and do. Cambridge University Press.

Hod, Y., & Ben-Zvi, D. (2014). A group psychotherapeutic perspective on transforming participation in a learning community. Instructional Science, 42(6), 949-970.

Hogan, K., & Corey, C. (2001). Viewing classrooms as cultural contexts for fostering scientific literacy. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 32(2), 214-243.

Kafai, Y. B., Fields, D. A., & Burke, W. Q. (2010). Entering the clubhouse: Case studies of young programmers joining the online Scratch communities. Journal of Organizational and End-User Computing, 22(2), 21-35.

Lehrer, R., Schauble, L., & Lucas, D. (2008). Supporting development of the epistemology of inquiry. Cognitive Development, 23(4), 512-529.

Resnick, M., Maloney, J., Monroy-Hernandez, A., Rusk, N., Eastmond, E., Brennan, K., Millner, A., Rosenbaum, E., Silver, J., Silverman, B., and Kafai, Y. (2009). Scratch: Programming for all. ACM, 52(11), 60–67.

Rogoff, B., Turkanis, C. G., & Bartlett, L. (2001). Learning together children and adults in a school community. London, UK: Oxford University Press.

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1994). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 3(3), 265-283.

Zhang, J., Hong, H.-Y., Scardamalia, M., Toe, C., & Morley, E. (2011). Sustaining knowledge building as a principle-based innovation at an elementary school. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20 (2), 262–307.