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EPISTEMOLOGICAL BELIEFS IN SCIENCE: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF LEBANESE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ EPISTEMOLOGIES

  • Nadya RizkEmail author
  • Lama Jaber
  • Sarah Halwany
  • Saouma BouJaoude
Article

ABSTRACT

Beliefs about the nature of knowledge and knowing have been investigated extensively in educational and developmental psychology research. Hofer’s framework on personal epistemology is adopted in the present study for assessing Lebanese university students’ epistemologies of science. Participants were 213 students in their first year of science-related studies at a private university in Beirut. Two instruments were used for data collection: The science-focused epistemological beliefs questionnaire (Hofer, 2000) and an 8-item instrument adapted from the modified version of the “Views on Science–Technology–Society” (Dogan & Abd-El-Khalick, 2008), and an additional item developed by the authors. Thirty students were purposively selected for completing the second instrument followed by a semi-structured interview. Data analysis yielded the following assertions regarding students’ epistemologies of science: (1) Scientific knowledge is liable to change; (2) the source of scientists’ knowledge is inherent to human’s construction, whereas the source of personal knowledge is independent from human subjectivity and based on external authority; (3) scientific knowledge is proven and validated through the concerted effort of scientists; and (4) absolute truth cannot be attained because of the lack of means to access knowledge. Findings highlighted the need to foster an academic culture that promotes students’ epistemologies and explicitly addresses the nature and processes of science in curricula and instruction.

KEY WORDS

epistemological beliefs in science nature of science science and culture science and gender science and religion science majors university students views about science 

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Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadya Rizk
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lama Jaber
    • 2
  • Sarah Halwany
    • 1
  • Saouma BouJaoude
    • 1
  1. 1.American University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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