I’m finding the task of formulating question areas very challenging. Given the completely open field that characterises the state of ED in Japan, I’m faced with a myriad of possibilities: rather like a blank page when starting an article. Do I revert to the older, more stable aspects of ED in light of virtually nothing being known in the Japanese context, or do I attempt to push the boundaries of the state of art of ED worldwide? If the former, which research framework do I adopt: one of the least contentious ones that enjoys a reasonable amount of agreement among theorists? Yet even the older theories are not fully supported. Should I adopt one of these wholesale, I bring my thesis into a position where it can easily be criticised by those who do not accept the tenets of the framework.
The clearest example of this can be found in the most widely referenced ED study in the Asian context, the Chan and Elliot series of studies in the early noughties (Chan & Elliot, 2000; Chan & Elliott, 2002, 2004). Their principle instrument was the 63-item questionnaire from Schommer’s (1989) Ph.D. thesis. Having read the questionnaire in detail, I concur with Hofer and Pintrich’s (1997) assessment that most the base statistical methodology and the wording of the questionnaire fail to address the issue of ED pertinently. Indeed, many of the items confuse similar but connected issues, such as motivation and belief in entity or incremental learning (Plaks & Chasteen, 2013). The failure to separate these threads compounds the difficulty in clarifying the construct of ED rather than elucidate it. To base my research on Schommer (now Schommer-Aikins) would be problematic. Yet, Chan and Elliot is the basis for many of the studies in the special edition of the Asia-Pacific Education Researcher whose volume 19(1) was dedicated to ED studies in Asia.
It seems that I must devise a more rigorous instrument for the Asian context, perhaps based on an amalgamation of Perry (1970) and others. However, should I do this, I need to be very careful that my questionnaire addresses a single construct and not be a mish-match of ideas. For this to happen, currently I’m thinking that a phenomenological study of around 40 students (10 from each of the four college years) may be a good idea. Unlike Perry, however, the interviews need to be semi-structured in order to ensure that I hear students’ experiences of a more targeted range of issues. The interview data should form the basis for a grounded study, from which a survey tool can be created. This tool can be administered to a much wider population and can have its face and internal validities tested.
A major, major problem for me—should this plan be acceptable—is that of language. The interviews have to be in Japanese. I have to question if my language skills are equal to this task.
Chan, K., & Elliot, R. G. (2000). Exploratory Study of Epistemological Beliefs of Hong Kong Teacher Education Students : resolving, 28(3).
Chan, K., & Elliott, R. G. (2002). Exploratory Study of Hong Kong Teacher Education Students’ Epistemological Beliefs: Cultural Perspectives and Implications on Beliefs Research. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27(June 2015), 392–414. http://doi.org/10.1006/ceps.2001.1102
Chan, K., & Elliott, R. G. (2004). Epistemological beliefs across cultures: critique and analysis of beliefs structure studies. Educational Psychology, 24(2), 123–142. http://doi.org/10.1080/0144341032000160100
Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (1997). The Development of Epistemological Theories: Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing and Their Relation to Learning. Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 88–140. http://doi.org/10.3102/00346543067001088
Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
Plaks, J. E., & Chasteen, A. L. (2013). Entity versus incremental theories predict older adults’ memory performance. Psychology and Aging, 28(4), 948–57. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0034348
Schommer, M. A. (1989). The effects of beliefs about the mature of knowledge om comprehension. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.