National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Spring 2002


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 3:1, Spring/Summer 2002. Copyright © 2002 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


In his very readable book on collaborative learning, Bruffee tells us, “[f]or a decade or more, reports on the state of American higher education have complained that many undergraduates tend to be authority-dependent, passive, irresponsible, overly competitive, and suspicious of their peers” (8). Bruffee’s hope is to help overcome these ills by arguing that “knowledge is a socially constructed, sociolinguistic entity and that learning is inherently an interdependent, sociolinguistic process” (8). While I tend to agree with this characterization of the state of higher education, I shall argue that Bruffee’s postmodern turn, according to which knowledge is a social construct, is a theoretical dead end.