Personal epistemology of students  [presentation, ppt, 88 kB]

Konrad E.
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Personal epistemology is the study of how individuals develop a conception of knowledge and knowledge acquisition, and how they use that conception to understand the world (Hofer, 2002). This study has become an area of growing interest in educational research, with far reaching implications for teaching and learning practices and knowledge management in different organizational setting. The underlying assumption has been that in learning situations where individuals are systematically confronted with the need to acquire new knowledge, the way in which they perceive and approach the process of knowing is, to some extent, influenced by their beliefs about knowledge, knowing, and learning. In early work, Perry (1970) concluded that the lack of congruence between the conceptions of learning held by university undergraduates and their teachers was responsible for some learning difficulties, particularly where students saw knowledge as simple, certain and authority based, while teachers stressed ambiguity and conflicting truths. Perry proposed a qualitative developmental framework of nine stages to describe the changes in epistemological positions of college student. This framework influenced the development of quantitative measures of personal epistemology that are more convenient for research. The central hypothesis of the present work is that personal epistemology of students develops from more naive to more mature state. To test this hypothesis, epistemological beliefs of samples of student before enrolment in university, the first psychology students and the fourth year psychology students were compared. Epistemological beliefs were measured with the adaptation of Schommer Epistemological Questionnaire (1990) which includes 12 characteristic beliefs that characterize the naive views about knowledge and learning. The resulting comparisons did not confirm the expected pattern of results. Such results are major challenge for considering the improvement in the quality of the psychology students study.