Metacognition and Learning

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 17–37 | Cite as

Epistemological beliefs and self-regulated learning with hypertext

  • Stephanie Pieschl
  • Elmar Stahl
  • Rainer Bromme


This study investigated the relationship between epistemological beliefs, prior domain knowledge and self-regulated learning. Biology students (n = 25) and humanities students (n = 26) who varied in their epistemological beliefs learned with a hierarchical hypertext about the topic of genetic fingerprinting. During their learning processes, logfiles and questionnaire data were collected. Results indicate that students do metacognitively calibrate their learning process to the complexity of the presented learning material, e.g. by processing more complex deeper-level nodes longer. Furthermore, these calibration processes were significantly related to epistemological beliefs. For example, more ‘sophisticated’ epistemological beliefs were associated with processing more nodes, whereas more ‘naïve’ beliefs were related to spending more time on single nodes. Both effects were especially pronounced on deeper hierarchical hypertext levels. Prior domain knowledge also had an impact, especially on comprehensibility ratings: biology students considered all nodes more comprehensible than humanities students. Additionally, epistemological beliefs as well as prior domain knowledge were also significantly associated with the learning outcome: for example, more prior domain knowledge led to significantly higher learning outcome.


Epistemological beliefs Metacognitive calibration Self-regulated learning Hypertext navigation Prior domain knowledge 



This study was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). We thank Stephanie Adrian, Sabine Joachim and Mike Pillukat, the student research assistants of this project, and Tom Murray who introduced us to MetaLinks, the authoring software used to create our hypertext. Furthermore, we thank anonymous reviewers who commented on an earlier version of this article for the 2006 CogSci conference and Marc Stadtler for their helpful feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychological DepartmentUniversity of MuensterMuensterGermany
  2. 2.University of EducationFreiburgGermany

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