Student Epistemic Beliefs as a Catalyst for Online Course Design: A Case Study for Research-Based eLearning

Student Epistemic Beliefs as a Catalyst for Online Course Design: A Case Study for Research-Based eLearning

Samuel S. Conn (Kentucky State University, USA), Simin Hall (Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, USA) and Michael K. Herndon (Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-111-9.ch013

Abstract

The construct of this chapter (a research-based case study) provides detail regarding the analysis of research on undergraduate student epistemic beliefs to develop and apply a rubric for eLearning course development (Hannafin & Hill, 2007). According to Ravert and Evans (2007), students have differing epistemic beliefs regarding the nature of knowledge and knowing. In this chapter, the authors provide a methodology for determining the epistemic beliefs of a given student population and application of the findings in online course construction and pedagogy.
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Problem Statement

Student Epistemic Beliefs and Online Course Design and Pedagogy

The problem examined in this study involves the use of epistemic beliefs in the design of an online course. Student epistemic beliefs, juxtaposed against the theory of knowledge, degrees of student self-regulation, and cognitive development theories can be used to design more efficacious online courses if an integrative methodology is applied. Creation of an online course development methodology involving the use of student epistemic beliefs is problematic. Relating theory of knowledge, degrees of self-regulation, and cognitive development theory as dimensions to construct a student population profile and use of student epistemic belief data to position a given student population within the construct is complex.

In this investigation, the authors illustrated the congruence of theory of knowledge, degrees of student self-regulation, and a cognitive development theory as a framework for determining appropriate online course development strategies. A rubric involving student profile, pedagogical strategies, and assessment tools was constructed and applied in response to a prescriptive-diagnostic approach (Schunk, 1983). Through this research and case-based study the authors wanted to know: a) what are students’ self-efficacy beliefs regarding problem solving and epistemic beliefs regarding instruction; b) how do students use technology to collaborate with peers to accomplish coursework; c) what is the current learning environment within a Thermodynamics course as designed by the instructor; and d) once these three factors have been assessed how can the information be used to design curriculum and instruction in an online course to promote increased self-regulation, higher order cognitive development, and constructivism with respect to knowledge and discovery?

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