EDEV_507 Week 8_2

Indeed I am much more attuned to sociology than either social-psychology or psychology. In fact, I see epistemic cognition (EC) as a tool to understand one aspect of the educational context in which I find myself. My initial interest was in personal knowledge management (KM) and if better achieving students had more efficient or different systems of KM than others. I suspected that the particular values and educational systems at the macro level, i.e. in the classroom and the associated tests, impact significantly on the heuristics of KM and on those techniques of KM that are taken up by the successful student. Furthermore, I suspected that those same ‘good’ techniques are not the same in Japan, or in any Confucian Heritage country, as what is considered ‘good’ in the West. This is the basis of my sociological interest. However, to know that, a precise view of knowledge is needed. That led me into EC.

Now, here is the question, and here is something that I would appreciate direct advice on. Without exception, all research into EC is psychological, either developmental psychology, educational psychology, or cognitive science. Would it be acceptable to attempt a thesis that completely breaks with the established field?

I suspect not, but adding some items into the questionnaire that try to capture the cultural, or social, factor is certainly on my radar.

I’d like to look at the concept of constructs and how they are operationalised as variables (to keep with this week’s theme). One outstanding feature of Confucianism is the strength of collectivism (Phuong-Mai, Terlouw, & Pilot, 2005). The operationalising of collectivism in EC cross-cultural studies seems to be missing; for example, Chan and Elliot (2000) follow a very typical pattern in Asian EC research of adopting a U.S. survey tool (in this case, Schommer, 1990) and simply note the strength of those items that they judge to match a Confucian ideal. Chan and Elliot (2000; 2002; 2004) select Schommer’s (1990), “Omniscient Authority as one of the prominent factors” (K. Chan & Elliot, 2000, p. 232) and discuss that even though other factors scored higher values. I find this kind of analysis potentially interesting but ultimately limited. Schommer (1990, and by extension, any study based on her survey) does not attempt to capture any other Confucian belief, nor does her sixty-three-item instrument include any mention of working with others. Individualism—Collectivism is one of Hofstede’s (2010) main dimensions at the cultural level, and others have created tools to measure it at the individual level (Oishi, Schimmack, Diener, & Suh, 1998). A strikingly clear example can be found in Singelis (1994) who has twenty-four items (twelve for independent and twelve for interdependent) that directly attempt to operationalise the construct of collectivism/individualism; for example, item 6 “I will sacrifice my self-interest for the benefit of the group I am in” (p. 585).

Any instrument I create needs to address similar issues in similar ways. It is likely that I will select my variables based on the existing literature rather than ground them on intensive interviews. However, unlike other EC research, I will include more cultural and cross-cultural items.

On another note, I had a great time in Nagoya. Got very drunk. Met many great people. Had a good couple of presentations. Got elected to two officer positions. Had three textbook proposals accepted! (They will make me busy.) Came back and collapsed yesterday. Now, hopefully, I’m back to normal.


Chan, K., & Elliot, R. G. (2000). Exploratory Study of Epistemological Beliefs of Hong Kong Teacher Education Students: resolving conceptual and empirical issues. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 28(3), 225–234.

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, 392–414. http://doi.org/10.1006/ceps.2001.1102

Chan, K. W., & Elliott, R. G. (2004). Relational analysis of personal epistemology and conceptions about teaching and learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(8), 817–831. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2004.09.002

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organisations: Software of the mind. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Oishi, S., Schimmack, U., Diener, E., & Suh, E. M. (1998). The measurement of values and individualism-collectivism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(11), 1177–1189. http://doi.org/0803973233

Phuong-Mai, N., Terlouw, C., & Pilot, A. (2005). Cooperative learning vs Confucian heritage culture’s collectivism: Confrontation to reveal some cultural conflicts and mismatch. Asia Europe Journal, 3(3), 403–419. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10308-005-0008-4

Schommer, M. (1990). Effects of beliefs about the nature of knowledge on comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(3), 498–504. http://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.82.3.498

Singelis, T. M. (1994). The Measurement of Independent and Interdependent Self-Construals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20(5), 580–591. http://doi.org/0803973233

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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