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?
- Tamara just read something in
her science textbook that seems to disagree with her own experiences. But
to learn science well, Tamara shouldn’t think about her own experiences;
she should just focus on what the book says.
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?
- Someone who doesn’t have
high natural ability can still learn the material well even in a hard chemistry
or physics class.
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?
- My grade in this course is primarily
determined by how familiar I am with the material. Insight or creativity has
little to do with it.
Coherence. Is physics a
collection of separated facts? Or, does physics need to be considered as a connected,
- If I came up with two different
approaches to a problem and they gave different answers, I would not worry
about it; I would just choose the answer that seemed most reasonable. (Assume
the answer is not in the back of the book.)
Concepts. Is learning focused
on memorizing and using formulas? Or, are the underlying ideas and concepts
- The most crucial thing in solving
a physics problem is finding the right equation to use.
There are three additional dimensions
that are included in the MPEX, but were not used: Reality link, Math
link, and Effort.
Questionnaire (EQ) 3
- To me studying means getting
the big ideas from the text, rather than details.
- When I study, I look for the
Ability to learn is innate
- Some people are born good learners,
others are just stuck with limited ability.
- Students who are "average"
in school remain "average" for the rest of their lives.
Can’t learn how to learn
- Everyone needs to learn how to
- The most successful people have
discovered how to improve their ability to learn.
Success is unrelated to hard
- Genius is 10% ability and 90%
- The really smart students don't
have to work hard to do well in school.
Concentrated effort is a waste
- If a person tries too hard to
understand a problem, they will most likely end up being confused.
- Usually you can figure out difficult
concepts if you eliminate all outside distractions and really concentrate.
Learn the first time
- Almost all the information you
can learn from a textbook you will get during the first reading.
- Going over and over a difficult
textbook chapter usually won't help you understand it.
Learning is quick
- If a person can't understand
something within a short amount of time, they should keep on trying.
- If you are ever going to be able
to understand something, it will make sense to you the first time you hear
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.
- B. White, A. Elby,
J. Frederiksen, and C. Schwarz. The Epistemological Beliefs Assessment
for Physical Science. presented at American Education Research Association.
- E. F. Redish, J. M.
Saul, and R. N. Steinberg, Student Expectations in Introductory Physics.
Am. J. Phys., 1998. 66(3): p. 212-224.
- Schommer, M. The
influence of age and schooling on epistemological beliefs. Br. J. Educ.
Psychol., 1998. 68: p. 551-562.