Theory Name: Fostering Communities of Learners (FCL)
Authors (Last, First): Brown, Ann L.; Campione, Joseph C.
Associate Learning Theory:
Cognitive-social learning based on Vygotskian theory: Learner is active
constructor. Instruction should focus on learner’s introspection
and metacognition such as research-like activities.
The FCL system is designed to promote metacognitive activities including
reflection and discourse in the disciplinary content. Primary learning
events include research-like activities focusing on self-consciously
active and reflective learning environment. They focus on micro level
of designing classroom lessons.
Specification of Theory
(a) Goals and preconditions
FCL is designed to promote the critical thinking and reflection skills
underlying multiple forms of higher literacy: reading, writing, argumentation,
technological sophistication, and so forth.
1) Understanding procedures rather than just speed and accuracy are the
focus of instruction and assessment
2) Expert guidance is used to reveal as well as promote independent competence
3) Microgenetic analysis permits estimates of learning as it actually
occurs over time
4) Proleptic teaching (Stone & Wertsch, 1984) is involved in both
assessment and instruction, for both aim at one stage beyond current
performance, in anticipation of levels of competence not yet achieved
individually but possible within supportive learning environment.
(c) Condition of learning
Research-based task in a learning community: FCL relies on a set of repetitive
participant structures to support the research-share-perform activity
cycle (e.g., Jigsaw, cross-talk, research/writing, design tasks and
(d) Required media
Research materials and artifacts (They don't mention concretely about
(e) Role of facilitator
Facilitator can be peer, parent, teacher, cross-age teaching participant,
and/or subject area specialist. Facilitators should promote the learners
to share knowledge across groups and to reflect.
(f) Instructional strategies
FCL is a system of interacting activities: 1) Research activities- reading,
writing , listening, or viewing activities to select critical material
on the chosen topic; - Cross-age teaching (reciprocal teaching) 2)
Sharing information (Jigsaw & cross-talk) 3) Consequential task
(bring the research cycle to an end, force students to share knowledge
across groups and act as occasions for exhibition and reflection)
(g) Assessment method
Guided assessment: collaborative learning experiences: guided assessment
methods present children with problems just one step beyond their existing
competence and then provide help as needed for the child to reach independent
mastery. Competence is fostered in social interactions before individual
mastery is expected
Formative Research & Application
(a) Tested context: K-12 (Brown, & Campione, 1990)
(b) Research method: Mixed
(c) Research description: The research of the early version of FCL (Brown, & Campione,
1990) showed the need of quizzes that tapped factual material, inferential
material, and flexible use of knowledge. The research led the idea of “thinking
question” involving querying, wondering, inferring, and reflecting.
Brown, A. L. & Campione, J. C. (1990). Communities of learning and
thinking, or a context by any other name. Human Development, 21, 108-125.
Brown, A. L. & Campione, J. C. (1996). Psychological theory and
the design of innovative learning environments: on procedures, principles,
and systems. In L. Schauble & R. Glaser (Eds.), Innovations in learning:
New environments for education (pp. 289-325). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum