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The Importance of Epistemic Cognition in Student-Centred Learning


ISAIJLS Volume 32, Number 3, ISSN 0020-4277


To infer the sophistication of epistemic thinking in a sample of undergraduate students, 25 participants completed a free-response task in which they were asked to give reasons for their agreement or disagreement with a small number of beliefs about the role of tutorials and of tutors in gaining knowledge. Responses were analysed according to King and Kitchener's (1994) stages of reasoning, revealing that the justifications offered were either at the stages of pre-reflective or quasi-reflective thinking with none exhibiting reflective thinking. The findings have two main pedagogical implications: first that good teaching be understood not as a set of performance skills which may only be opportunistically related to students' extant conceptualisations but as the locus through which students confront their own epistemic beliefs. A second implication is that to extend students' reasoning, teaching practices must focus explicitly on the difficult issue of what counts as evidence.


Maclellan, E. & Soden, R. (2004). The Importance of Epistemic Cognition in Student-Centred Learning. Instructional Science: An International Journal of the Learning Sciences, 32(3), 253-268. Retrieved May 15, 2021 from .

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