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Understanding knowledge genesis by means of multivariate factor analysis of epistemological belief structures

Colbeck, DF 2007 , 'Understanding knowledge genesis by means of multivariate factor analysis of epistemological belief structures' , Information research: an international electronic journal, vol. 12, no. 4 .

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Students attending University come as a unique package
complete with a variety of learning styles and
experiences. Prior knowledge, understanding and
personal epistemological beliefs play critical roles in how
students understand and philosophise concepts
surrounding information proffered by educators.
The purpose of this study is to construct an
epistemological beliefs survey instrument by extending
an existing and accepted model and conducting a
confirmatory analysis, comparing the results gathered
using this new instrument with those reported results
obtained by the original study. The new instrument would
then be used to conduct an exploratory analysis on newly
acquired data in an attempt to analyse, interpret and
understand epistemological beliefs currently maintained
by a group of first year university undergraduate students.
The survey instrument was distributed during the first
fifteen minutes of their first lecture of the semester for
each group of participants, prior to any teaching being
conducted. From a total of approximately 515 first year
undergraduate Computer Science, Information Systems,
Nursing and Health students approached, 435 completed
the survey forms (84.4%). The data was then naïve
response recoded and a sequence of multivariate factor
analyses applied.
The results proved that there was indeed a hierarchical
structure of prior epistemological beliefs held by the
participants. Developing an understanding of what these
beliefs are, how they are formed, and how they are
influenced is of significant value as during this study it
became apparent that these initial epistemological belief
structures could be identified, isolated and developed by
educators, enabling improvements in future educational
This research shows that learners’ do in fact, maintain a
unique set of epistemological beliefs that are constantly
being constructed and modified by individual as well as
social interaction within their learning environment.
Studies of epistemological beliefs are still very much at
the embryonic stage, but development of enabling tools
such as the EBS allows easier and more fluid
understanding of the ontological knowledge genesis

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Colbeck, DF
Keywords: epistemology pedagogy phenomenology
Journal or Publication Title: Information research: an international electronic journal
Publisher: University of Sheffield, Department of Information Studies
ISSN: 1368-1613
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