Faculty & Research

Recent Publications - Chapters

Using cognitive interviewing to explore primary and secondary students’ epistemic and ontological cognition

Greene, J. A., Torney-Purta, J., Azevedo, R., & Robertson, J.
In L. D. Bendixen & F. C. Haerle (Eds.) (2010). Personal epistemology in the classroom: Theory, research, and implications for practice (pp. 368-406). New York: Cambridge University Press.

ISBN-10: 0521883555
ISBN-13: 978-0521883559

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“In this chapter we briefly review the literature on personal epistemology and the gaps in research on elementary and secondary students, outlining both conceptual and measurement-based concerns. Next we introduce our model of epistemic and ontological cognition, which is informed by other conceptual models, philosophical epistemology, findings from developmental psychology, and Hofer’s (2001) call for integration within the field. From there we advance cognitive interviewing (Karabenick et al., 2007; Willis, 2005) as a means of gathering more information regarding the phenomena of epistemic and ontological cognition as well as the suitability of questionnaires designed to measure these constructs. Cognitive interviewing has only recently been adapted for use with children, and to our knowledge it has never been used to investigate measures of epistemic and ontological cognition with pre-college age students. The results of our own cognitive interviewing study demonstrate the importance of vetting questionnaire items with participants, as we found numerous confusions regarding academic domains, the meaning of Likert response scales, and students’ interpretations of words such as “truth” and “believe.” Our findings also shed light upon deeper conceptual issues such as elementary and secondary school students’ ability to think in a sophisticated manner about ill-structured domains and their hierarchical views of authority figures. We end the chapter with a discussion of the conceptual and educational implications of these findings and our model.”