Schooling and students′ epistemological beliefs about learning

Jihn Chang J. Jehng, Scott D. Johnson, Richard C. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined university students′ epistemological beliefs as a function of their educational level and field of study. A stratified random sampling technique was used to assess the epistemological beliefs of 386 students at three universities in central Illinois. Confirming previous research, the results suggest that epistemological beliefs can be represented in terms of five factors: (a) certainty of knowledge, (b) omniscient authority, (c) orderly process, (d) innate ability, and (e) quick learning. Students who study in the “soft” fields (i.e., social science and arts/humanities) have a stronger tendency to believe that knowledge is uncertain, are more reliant on their independent reasoning ability, and have a stronger feeling that learning is not an orderly process than students in “hard” fields (i.e., engineering and business). Graduate students showed a stronger tendency than undergraduate students to believe that knowledge is often uncertain, that learning is not usually an orderly process, and that knowledge is best acquired from independent reasoning. The results of this study suggest that students′ beliefs about learning are a product of the activity, the culture, and the context in which they are cultivated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-35
Number of pages13
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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