Formal and Informal Learning and First-Year Psychology Students’ Development of Scientific Thinking: A Two-Wave Panel Study
BACKGROUND More empirical work is needed to examine the dimensionality of personal epistemology and relations between those dimensions and motivational and strategic components of self-regulated learning. In particular, there is great need to investigate personal epistemology and its relation to self-regulated learning across cultures and academic contexts. Because the demarcation between personal epistemology and implicit theories of intelligence has been questioned, dimensions of personal epistemology should also be studied in relation to implicit theories of intelligence. AIMS The primary aim was to examine the dimensionality of personal epistemology and the relation between those dimensions and implicit theories of intelligence in the cultural context of Norwegian postsecondary education. A secondary aim was to examine the relative contribution of epistemological beliefs and theories of intelligence to motivational and strategic components of self-regulated learning in different academic contexts within that culture. SAMPLES The first sample included 178 business administration students in a traditional transmission-oriented instructional context; the second, 108 student teachers in an innovative pedagogical context. METHODS The dimensionality of the Schommer Epistemological Questionnaire was examined through factor analyses, and the resulting dimensions were examined in relation to implicit theories of intelligence. We performed multiple regression analyses, separately for the two academic contexts, to try to predict motivational (i.e. self-efficacy beliefs, mastery goal orientation, and interest) and strategic (i.e. self-regulatory strategy use) components of self-regulated learning with epistemological beliefs and implicit theories of intelligence. RESULTS Considerable cross-cultural generalizability was found for the dimensionality of personal epistemology. Moreover, the dimensions of personal epistemology seemed to represent constructs separate from the construct of implicit theories of intelligence. Differences in the predictability of the epistemological dimensions were found for the two samples. For the student teachers, belief about knowledge construction and modification was a better predictor of self-regulated learning. For the business administration students, belief about the certainty of knowledge played a more important role in self-regulated learning. CONCLUSIONS Epistemological beliefs predict self-regulated learning among Norwegian postsecondary students and play more important roles than implicit theories of intelligence. Relations between epistemological beliefs and self-regulated learning may vary with academic context.