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Contents Part I.

What is epistemology? Introduction to the word and the concept

Introduction: 1. Personal epistemology in the classroom: a welcome and guide for the reader Florian C. Feucht and Lisa D. Bendixen-- Part II.

Frameworks and Conceptual Issues: 2. Manifestations of an epistemological belief system in preschool to grade twelve classrooms Marlene Schommer-Aikins, Mary Bird and Linda Bakken-- 3.

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Personal epistemology in the classroom : theory, research, and implications for practice

Epistemic climate in elementary classrooms Florian C. Feucht-- 4. The integrative model of personal epistemology development: theoretical underpinnings and implications for education Deanna C. Rule and Lisa D. Bendixen-- 5. Who knows what and who can we believe? Stalking young persons' changing beliefs about belief Michael J. Chandler and Travis Proulx-- 8. Epistemological development in very young knowers Leah K. Wildenger, Barbara K. Hofer and Jean E. Burr-- 9. Beliefs about knowledge and revision of knowledge: on the importance of epistemic beliefs for intentional conceptual change in elementary and middle school students Lucia Mason-- Examining the influence of epistemic beliefs and goal orientations on the academic performance of adolescent students enrolled in high-poverty, high-minority schools P.

Karen Murphy, Michelle M. Buehl, Jill A. Zeruth, Maeghan N. Descriptive differences means and standard errors in perceived contradictoriness between groups that received controversial information on gender stereotyping. Both measures are based on Kuhn et al. The questionnaire starts with the presentation of three controversial positions on gender stereotype discrimination i. Thereafter, 15 statements on this controversy, which represent either absolute, multiplistic, or evaluativistic beliefs, are to be rated on a 6-point Likert scale 5 statements per belief type.

Accordingly, depending on certain contextual factors, rather one or the other view is correct. It introduces controversial scientific positions relating to the domain of educational psychology i. Subsequently, just like in the FREE-GST, 15 statements relating to either absolute, multiplistic, or evaluativistic beliefs are presented. Actually, nobody can know for sure whether specific methods are beneficial for learning or not.

Furthermore, we combined absolutism, multiplism and evaluativism scores to the so-called D-index, which Krettenauer proposed as an overall measure of advanced epistemic beliefs. Applying Krettenauer's formula to our questionnaires, the D-index was computed as Evaluativism —.

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Because the D-Index condenses changes across absolutism, multiplism and evaluativism, we expected the power to detect such overall changes toward advanced beliefs to be higher in analyses using the D-Index. However, as the D-index was not part of our preregistration, analyses including this index are exploratory. We assessed psychology-specific justification beliefs by a domain-specific adaptation of a domain-general German questionnaire Klopp and Stark, Klopp and Stark's questionnaire builds on items originally developed by Ferguson et al. The questionnaire differentiates the three types of justification beliefs that were introduced above: 1 personal justification, 2 justification by authority, 3 justification by multiple sources.

All scores were computed as mean scores. To control for influences of third variables, we measured a set of potential covariates. Need for cognitive closure was assessed by Schlink and Walther's questionnaire as connections to epistemic change have already been empirically shown for this construct Rosman et al.

Additionally, Bendixen and Rule, repeatedly emphasized the theoretical importance of environmental factors. In order to account for this, we employed Schiefele and Jacob-Ebbinghaus study satisfaction questionnaire. Moreover, as Bendixen and Rule's model on epistemic change is closely connected to conceptual change theory Bendixen and Rule, , covariates that are proposed in the conceptual change literature, i. Therefore, we employed an established measurement instrument by Bless et al. Since these variables were only included in exploratory analyses if they differed at least marginally significantly between groups see below , further details are only provided for control variables that are relevant for the present paper in Tables 2, 3.

Based on the research questions that were introduced above, we derived the following hypotheses:.


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Epistemic belief change can be induced by text-based interventions that evoke epistemic doubt. More specifically, we expect small to moderate effects for the following differences between intervention conditions:. Reading multiple texts presenting conflicting scientific evidence will induce epistemic change, whereas reading texts on students employing different learning strategies will not induce epistemic change.

Incremental effects of the writing task will be small to moderate. In the following, statistical procedures for testing these hypotheses are described. All statistical analyses were conducted in R 3. The package lavaan 0. We used latent difference score modeling McArdle, to analyze our data. The main outcome variables of our analyses were changes in epistemic beliefs i. These latent change scores were predicted by dummy-coded intervention group variables.

In order to investigate group differences not related to the reference group, we defined these effects as new parameters of the structural equation model. The same procedure holds for comparisons between topic—and domain-related measures H2. A logical precondition of H2 more pronounced effects on epistemic change for the topic-specific FREE-GST is that group differences in epistemic change exist. Therefore, H2 was only to be tested if any significant group differences were found in analyses that are related to H1.

However, H2-analyses were performed even if the revealed pattern of effects contradicted the hypothesized pattern of effects. H2-analyses were conducted separately for absolutism, multiplism and evaluativism resulting in a maximum possible number of three target models. Exemplary latent change model for testing H1.

Latent change itself is operationalized as the part of an observed outcome variable GST A 2 i. The following procedure was employed for testing our hypotheses: First, intervention group was dummy-coded with the control group as reference category 2. If the corresponding likelihood ratio test LRT revealed that epistemic change differed significantly between groups [H1] or measures [H2], we inspected the estimated model parameters in order to examine group [H1] or measure differences [H2] in epistemic change.

As the expected direction of effects as well as the expected order of effects is explicitly predicted, we used one-tailed tests whenever appropriate. In addition to this preregistered procedure, we introduced an alternating model which proposed that the presentation of topic-specific diverging information had an overall effect on epistemic beliefs that was invariant across treatment groups i.

Otherwise, we applied the same procedures as for confirmatory hypothesis testing. We also checked for pre-test differences on covariates that were measured before group assignment took place by means of ANOVAs with group as factor. If any marginally significant or significant differences between groups on covariates existed, we conducted additional analyses that introduced these covariates as predictors of both pre-intervention beliefs and epistemic change in our latent change model. Finally, we investigated if the intervention was especially beneficial for subjects that held more naive epistemic beliefs i.

For this purpose, we divided our sample into groups with more naive or more advanced epistemic beliefs—as has been done in prior research on epistemic change e. More precisely, we repeated all prior exploratory analyses that yielded significant intervention effects and used multiple group modeling to test if these intervention effects differed between naive and advanced groups. For each multiple group model, we split our sample into a naive and an advanced group based on the median score of pre-intervention values of the outcome variable under investigation and tested if intervention effects differed between these groups based on LRTs.

Our a priori determined target sample size was participants i. In order to calculate this target sample size, we conducted a simulation study in R.

Personal epistemology in the classroom : theory, research, and implications for practice

For each condition of this simulation study i. The expected effect size in the population model of this simulation study was derived from a previous study by Rosman, Mayer and Merk under review , who examined epistemic change using the resolvable controversies intervention and employed a similar design to our current study. In this study, the authors showed that modifying the resolvable controversies intervention by introducing alternating writing tasks caused significant differences in epistemic change between conditions i.

As we assumed that dropping the writing task or changing the resolvable nature of the presented controversies were much stronger modifications of the established resolvable controversies intervention, we expected larger effects in the current study. Moreover, the power for detecting moderate effects i. Moreover, considerable ceiling effects existed for the justification by multiple sources scale pre There were no univariate or multivariate outliers on dependent variables according to the criteria of our preregistration i.

Thus, no outlier-corrected analyses were performed. Intercorrelations and reliabilities of study variables at the pre-intervention measurement occasion t1. Thus, we found no significant group differences in epistemic change according to the preregistered criterion. As prespecified in our statistical analysis plan, Hypothesis 2 was not tested because confirmatory analyses concerning Hypothesis 1 revealed no significant differences between groups.

For topic-specific advanced epistemic beliefs, LRTs indicated that the equal group effects model fitted our data best. In other words, effects on epistemic change for the control group and the three topic-specific intervention groups i. For the respective measure on domain-specific beliefs, LRTs indicated that neither for the equal group effects model, nor for a model with unrestricted group effects, model fit improved significantly. As epistemic change differed between groups, we tested Hypothesis 2 for the D-Index.

Descriptive differences means and standard errors in epistemic change in psychology-specific justification beliefs. Fit indices and model difference tests for psychology-specific justification beliefs. Regression coefficients of target models predicting epistemic change in justification beliefs. Analyses on pre-intervention differences on covariates revealed that groups differed at least marginally significant on self-reported intrinsic task value, i.

Apart from that, no post-hoc comparisons yielded significant results. Due to the randomized assignment of participants to intervention conditions, these differences can only be attributed to mere chance. To deal with the issue, however, we included these variables as covariates that predicted pre-intervention differences in epistemic beliefs and epistemic change in our analyses and repeated all analyses specified above.

To facilitate interpreting results of these analyses, both covariates were z -standardized prior to inclusion. Results of the controlled analyses differed for topic-specific beliefs on multiplism and evaluativism. Subsequently, we also tested Hypothesis 2 on multiplism and evaluativism while controlling for pre-test differences. In other words, epistemic change in evaluativism does not differ between topic—and domain-specific beliefs and H2 is therefore rejected , while an overall increase in topic—and domain-specific evaluativistic beliefs is observed for the treatment groups.

Exploring the relationship between pre-intervention values, instruction i. Surprisingly, confirmatory analyses revealed no significant group differences between experimental groups. Results suggest that this lack of significant findings is largely due to a profound decrease in topic-specific and domain-specific absolutism and multiplism that takes place in our control group.

Applying these results to our specific hypotheses H1a, H1b, and H1c, we draw the following conclusions. The second part of H1a assumed that the learning strategies task in the control group would not induce epistemic change. As stated above, our data clearly point toward a rejection of this hypothesis as advanced beliefs concerning absolutism and multiplism thrive in the control group. How can we explain this unexpected trajectory? After re-inspecting the materials from our control group, we tend to reframe the learning strategies task, i.

Hence, this presentation of conflicting knowledge claims might engender a decline of absolute beliefs, while the subsequent task that requires participants to compare these knowledge claims on a set of predefined criteria the adjunct questions may trigger an integration of diverging information and, therefore, thwart a change toward multiplistic beliefs. Possibly, our subjects perceived learning strategies to be even more prototypical for this domain.

Therefore, crossover-effects may exist for beliefs on different topics that are settled within the same domain i.


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Based on our control group, we are actually able to compare effects of the mere presentation of any kind of diverging information, to science-based diverging information that was explicitly designed to evoke epistemic doubt and change toward advanced beliefs. Nonetheless, as a consequence, the actual effect size of examined effects and thus the power of our tests that compared effects of gender stereotype interventions to control groups might be lower than expected for H1a. At least the non-significant effects in confirmatory analyses substantiate this theory.

In spite of this fact, exploratory analyses introduce some evidence in favor of H1a as they revealed that topic-specific interventions fostered topic-specific epistemic change toward advanced beliefs when compared to the control group an increase in the D-Index, a decrease in multiplism and an increase in evaluativism. In conclusion, H1a can be partially confirmed as we observed some kind of treatment effect on five out of eleven outcome variables. Unexpectedly, the control task induced epistemic change toward advanced beliefs but exploratory analyses revealed that change toward advanced beliefs was more prominent for the treatment groups in particular, evaluativism did only change in these groups.

Additionally, treatment group interventions promoted the development of advanced justification beliefs more efficiently, which indicates that the mere presentation of any kind of diverging information does not equally affect all dimensions of epistemic beliefs. Therefore, no significant differences were found for evaluativism between treatment groups. In a nutshell, our results indicated that epistemic change differed between treatment groups only on one out of eleven outcomes and in this case the observed effect even contradicted the expected pattern of effects i.

Thus, H1b is completely rejected; the consequences of this will be discussed in the implications section. Unfortunately, this was not the case as chosen target models restricted effects to be equal across groups. Therefore, they did not allow to introduce model constraints on effect parameters of dummy-coded intervention groups or to include differences between those effects as additional parameters in our model i.

On the other hand, the fact that differences between groups did not become significant based on LRTs implies that overall differences in efficacy cannot be very large because otherwise they would have been detected as our power analyses indicate. Still, these LRT did not explicitly test the null hypothesis for H1c and descriptive statistics indicate that small differences might exist for some outcome measures. In other words, we cannot say for sure if the writing instruction supported epistemic change in our study but we can rule out with some certainty that it was a prerequisite for change.

In conclusion, our data tend to confirm the first part of H1c overall efficacy of the reading task , but are not able to fully test the second part of H1c that pertains to incremental effects of reflecting on diverging information. Our statistical analysis plan prescribed that H2 i. Due to the fact that no differences between experimental groups H1 were found in confirmatory analyses, Hypothesis 2 was not tested in our confirmatory analyses. However, evidence in favor of this hypothesis stems from exploratory analyses, where significantly stronger effects in topic-specific measures were found for the D-Index and for multiplism when controlling for covariates.

Although findings for evaluativism descriptively confirmed this trend, the corresponding effects failed to reach significance. All in all, we found the hypothesized relationship between effects on topic—and domain-specific measures in two out of three cases, in which it could be meaningfully tested, and, therefore, Hypotheses 2 can be regarded as partially confirmed. Then again, extrapolating from this notion, we would expect to find even weaker differences between effects in our topic-specific intervention groups and our control group for justification beliefs in psychological science, as this is the highest level-domain investigated by our study i.

Interestingly, this was not the case. On the contrary, we found effects for justification beliefs that would have been significant according to the criteria of our confirmatory analyses. Hence, different dimensions of epistemic beliefs seem to respond in very distinct ways to various aspects of administered interventions. Possibly, the learning strategies control task is only generalized to educational psychology as a method within this domain , while the resolvable controversies intervention is generalized to both the topic of gender stereotyping and psychological science as a whole because it deals with research findings on gender stereotypes.

With our first research question, we aimed to create a better understanding of how exactly diverging information affect epistemic change. The findings that we obtained for subjects that received unresolvable controversial information tell a very interesting story in this regard and offer promising starting points for future research. To our surprise, advanced epistemic beliefs especially justification beliefs prospered under these circumstances.

This is even more remarkable as manipulation check analyses indicated that subjects actually perceived the presented information to be more inconsistent than subjects in the other groups. Why do subjects not regress to simpler multiplistic beliefs when facing this entirely inconsistent information but instead progress to advanced beliefs? Various explanations are conceivable: Possibly, our subjects found some way to integrate conflicting findings and went to great lengths in order to integrate conflicting findings e.

Alternatively, they may attribute inconsistencies of presented information solely on the limited amount of information that was offered by our intervention. Especially evaluativists could readily align new information to their existing beliefs by arguing that contextual factors exist but that prior research has, up to now, failed to identify those factors. In accordance with this notion, Rule and Bendixen argued that schema theory Anderson et al.

Furthermore, applying our findings to the current situation in psychology e. For example, Han and Jeong showed that epistemic beliefs of gifted high school students who planned to major or majored in science and engineering prospered when they attended a Science-Technology-Society education program. In this education program, they were among others confronted with dilemmas in engineering and natural science that—just like the unresolvable controversies in our study—could not be resolved within the course.

Nevertheless, these unresolvable dilemmas fostered advanced beliefs and moral judgment Han and Jeong, As a consequence, future research should examine, which degree of inconsistency fosters epistemic development and from when on it hinders progress, while paying close attention to the role of prior beliefs and educational background. Clement, should provide some valuable input for this purpose. Concerning our second research question, which aimed at investigating effects of reflecting on diverging information, results are harder to interpret.

The effects of reflection may not be very large because reflecting on diverging information lacks goal-orientation i. Hence, Lunn Brownlee et al. Since epistemic doubt, epistemic volition and resolution strategies are thought to be part of higher order mechanisms in their model Rule and Bendixen, , larger effects of reflecting on diverging information might become apparent if subjects' epistemic volition is simultaneously targeted by interventions.

Therefore, even though this is somewhat speculative, our results could point to the importance of epistemic volition in epistemic change, an aspect that should be investigated in future research. One way to do so would be the design of intervention components that are tailored specifically to affect epistemic doubt, epistemic volition or reflection and to investigate their incremental effects on epistemic change. Moreover, our study gave some interesting insights into how effects of topic-specific interventions are generalized—a pressing issue in epistemic change research cf.

In fact, experimental studies often possess a narrow topic-specific scope cf. With regard to this concern, Kienhues et al. Thus, their so-called exemplary principle predicts that a certain way of dealing with epistemic problems can be transferred when approaching problems in related areas. Our research corroborates to this notion. As could have been predicted by the exemplary principle , we found carry over effects within the domain of educational psychology: Topic-specific intervention effects of our gender stereotyping intervention were transferred to domain-specific beliefs and even to higher-level justification beliefs.

Furthermore, the presentation of diverging information on the topic of learning strategies caused an unexpected decrease in absolute beliefs regarding another topic within the same domain i. However, not all topic-specific beliefs were equally affected. More specifically, diverging information on learning strategies did not result in significant changes in evaluativism topic—or domain-specific nor in justification beliefs.

This yields two important implications which pertain to both our first and last research question: First, the generalization of epistemic beliefs seems to depend on the dimension of epistemic beliefs under investigation. Possibly, it is comparatively easy to change beliefs on the structure of knowledge i. In contrast, changing other belief dimensions e. Future research should address this question, where Greene et al.

Secondly, we saw that evoking doubt regarding absolute beliefs was comparatively easy as we required no didactical concept in order to change those beliefs. Our learning strategies task efficiently reduced topic—and domain-specific absolute beliefs—at least in the short term—even though it was actually designed as a control task. Additionally, our findings suggest that these insights might be readily conferred to adjacent domains. However, once more, specific characteristics of our sample have to be taken into account when interpreting these findings and future research should examine if our observed pattern of effects holds in confirmatory studies for other populations.

First, one may criticize that findings and conclusions of our study are largely based on exploratory analyses. However, our exploratory analyses modified confirmatory analyses in no substantial way as we derived exploratory analyses and outcomes from our prespecified theory and did not alter our research questions or hypotheses.

Instead, we investigated the same questions on a more basic level in order to meaningfully examine if the overall paradigm had worked as intended. Nonetheless, as for all exploratory research, it is the task of future confirmatory studies to validate our findings. Until then, these findings should be cautiously interpreted.

Secondly, the duration of our intervention was rather short. This is particularly true considering the mismatch between intervention duration and length of normative development process that the intervention aims at. However, this is not uncommon for this kind of intervention cf.

Moreover, to settle the issue of targeting a long-term process by short-term interventions, Ferguson et al. Based on his framework, they argued that short-term interventions in an experimental setting might be able to accelerate or compress development processes that normally require longer periods of time. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. If you continue browsing the site, you agree to the use of cookies on this website.

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