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The relationship between epistemic beliefs and knowledge contribution to online communities of practice

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Title: The relationship between epistemic beliefs and knowledge contribution to online communities of practice
Author(s): Teng, Ya-Ting
Director of Research: Johnson, Scott D.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Johnson, Scott D.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Aragon, Steven R.; Joseph, Diana; Kuchinke, K. Peter; Stine-Morrow, Elizabeth A.L.
Department / Program: Human Resource Education
Discipline: Human Resource Education
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Epistemic beliefs Design knowledge Online community of practice Knowledge sharing Knowledge contribution Expertise Epistemological beliefs
Abstract: Epistemic beliefs refer to individual beliefs about the nature of knowledge and knowing. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between individuals’ levels of expertise, epistemic beliefs, and their contributions to an online community of practice. The studied community was hosted by a firm and consisted of members in the design professions. Community members (N = 315) completed a self-reported survey via the Internet. Findings supported a four-factor structure of design-focused epistemic beliefs, including Consistency of Design Knowledge, Source Authority of Design Knowledge, Attainability of Design Knowledge, and Contextual Factuality of Design Knowledge. However, the last two factors had low internal consistency. Limitations of and implications for the use of the epistemic belief questionnaire are further discussed. Results indicated that individuals' epistemic beliefs could be used to explain self-reported likelihood of sharing different levels of contributions, as well as the quality and quantity of individuals’ actual contributions. Individuals with weaker beliefs in Consistency of Design Knowledge were more likely to post comments when they found a typo, disagreed with information published on a help page, found relevant tips, or wanted to share tutorials they had created. The interaction between Consistency of Design Knowledge and levels of expertise were significantly associated with the self-reported likelihood of sharing low-level contributions and quality and quantity of actual contributions. Findings are discussed with regard to their implications for both theories and designs of online communities of practice.
Issue Date: 2010-05-19
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/16126
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Ya-Ting Teng
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-05-19
Date Deposited: May 2010
 

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