Master Leila Eve Ferguson's avhandling for graden Ph.D.
Avhandlingens tittel er:
Making sense of multiple texts: An investigation into epistemic beliefs and multiple-text comprehension when students read about controversial science topics.
The dawn of our information age has prompted educational researchers to engage in programs of investigation into students’ epistemic beliefs and multiple-text comprehension, respectively. The present thesis belongs at the intersection of the two areas of research. Epistemic beliefs may be viewed as a multi-dimensional form of personal epistemology that concerns individuals’ views and understanding of knowledge and the process of knowing. Multiple-text comprehension describes a situation where readers are required to build a coherent mental representation of an issue, or a situation, that is described in several texts, each dealing with the issue from different perspectives. Links between epistemic beliefs and multiple-text comprehension have become apparent over the last decade. Important issues in the respective fields are investigated in the context of Norwegian students reading about scientific topics.
The thesis adopts a mainly quantitative approach in investigating dimensionality and change in students’ epistemic beliefs in multiple-text settings. Further, the complex relation between epistemic beliefs and knowledge; and the contributions of word recognition skills, motivation and strategic reading to multiple-text comprehension are also investigated. Two projects, the first using think-aloud methodology, and the second using a combination of questionnaire, process and performance data, form the empirical basis of this thesis.
Findings support recent suggestions that current conceptualisations of epistemic beliefs are too little refined and that philosophical considerations may be useful in informing future educational research on this matter. Further, that the complex problem space represented by inviting students to evaluate conflicting knowledge claims presented in multiple documents may result in students adopting more evaluative views of knowledge claims. Findings regarding the distinct profiles of knowledge and epistemic beliefs that may characterize subgroups in classrooms, and how these may change after reading conflicting information, are also presented. Finally, at a time when reading researchers are becoming aware of the extra challenges involved in multiple-text reading and are turning their attention to higher-order processes, the thesis underlines the continued importance of supporting development of more basic reading skills after elementary years.