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Title:Scientific Reasoning and Epistemological Commitments: Coordination of Theory and Evidence Among College Science Students
Author(s):Zeineddin, Ava
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Abd-El-Khalick, Fouad
Department / Program:Secondary & Continuing Education with a concentration in Secondary Science Education
Discipline:Secondary & Continuing Education with a concentration in Secondary Science Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Sciences
Abstract:This study examined the relationship between epistemological commitments and scientific reasoning among college science students. Prior knowledge was considered an intervening factor. Participants were 139 college students enrolled in two physics courses in a large Midwestern university. They completed an online questionnaire, which assessed their prior knowledge (PK) regarding buoyancy in liquids and epistemological commitment (EC) to the consistency of theory with evidence. Responses to the online questionnaire were used to select 40 participants with varying levels of PK and EC. These participants were divided into four groups, each with 10 students, representing four conditions: High PK-High EC, High PK-Low EC, Low PK-High EC, and Low PK-Low EC. These groups allowed using a 2x2 factorial quasi-experimental design to examine the relationship between participants' reasoning and epistemological commitments, accounting for prior knowledge. The quality of participants' reasoning was assessed during individual interviews, which presented them with four problem solving tasks involving objects immersed in water. Two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicated the absence of interaction between PK and EC. Controlling for one predictor, the mean reasoning scores between low and high levels of the other predictor were significant. Multiple comparisons showed that significant differences existed between the High PK-High EC and Low PK-Low EC groups and between the High PK-Low EC and Low PK-Low EC groups. The results showed that the higher the epistemological commitments were, the higher the quality of reasoning was for comparable levels of prior knowledge. Additionally, it was found that prior knowledge impacted reasoning more strongly when epistemological commitments were weaker.
Issue Date:2008
Description:164 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3337982
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2008

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