Personal Epistemology Survey


Last spring 28 students in my physics 101 course took a 63-question survey which was comprised of questions from several exisitng surveys.The students took the survey on-line, out of class.


Epistemological Beliefs Assessment in Physical Science (EBAPS) 1

Nature of knowing and learning. Does learning science consist mainly of absorbing information? Or, does one need to actively work through the material?

Source of ability to learn. Is being good at science mostly a matter of fixed natural ability? Or, can most people become better at learning (and doing) science?

There are three other dimensions to the EBAPS, which were not used: Real-life applicability, Evolving knowledge and Structure of scientific knowledge.


Maryland Physics Expectations Survey (MPEX) 2

Independence. Do students take what is given to them by authorities without any evaluation? Or, do they believe in the need to evaluate and understand independently?

Coherence. Is physics a collection of separated facts? Or, does physics need to be considered as a connected, consistent framework?

Concepts. Is learning focused on memorizing and using formulas? Or, are the underlying ideas and concepts emphasized?

There are three additional dimensions that are included in the MPEX, but were not used: Reality link, Math link, and Effort.


Schommer’s Epistemological Questionnaire (EQ) 3

Avoid integration

Ability to learn is innate

Can’t learn how to learn

Success is unrelated to hard work

Concentrated effort is a waste of time

Learn the first time

Learning is quick

Schommer’s EQ includes several other subsets that were not used: Avoid ambiguity, Knowledge is certain, Depend on authority, Don’t criticize authority, and Seek single answers.



  1. B. White, A. Elby, J. Frederiksen, and C. Schwarz. The Epistemological Beliefs Assessment for Physical Science. presented at American Education Research Association. 1999. Montreal.
  2. E. F. Redish, J. M. Saul, and R. N. Steinberg, Student Expectations in Introductory Physics. Am. J. Phys., 1998. 66(3): p. 212-224.
  3. Schommer, M. The influence of age and schooling on epistemological beliefs. Br. J. Educ. Psychol., 1998. 68: p. 551-562.