Epistemic beliefs and comprehension in a hypertext system
Linda G. MacNeal, Widener University, United States
Widener University . Awarded
This study investigated the relationship between an epistemic belief in Quick Learning and reading comprehension and metacomprehension in an information retrieval hypertext system.
Educators are attempting to confront the challenges of a technological society by seeking empirical evidence for the instructional uses of technology. An examination of epistemic beliefs, i.e., a set of assumptions about knowledge and the nature of the learning process (Schommer, 1990) may assist educators in selecting the most effective and appropriate instructional uses of hypertext.
An epistemic belief in Quick Learning presumes that learning will take place quickly or not-at-all (Schommer, 1990). How will subjects with a belief system that defines ability to learn in terms of speed comprehend in a hypertext system whose signature characteristic is speed of access? The findings of this study provide some pertinent and appropriate answers.
Members of two intact classes of field experience students from a local state-affiliated university took part in the two sessions of this study. During the first session, twenty-four subjects rated items on an Epistemological Questionnaire (Schommer, 1990) that assessed their beliefs in the four dimensions of an epistemic belief system. Though subjects evaluated 63 items on the questionnaire, only the ten questions pertaining to Quick Learning were subjected to data analysis. Next, subjects completed a pretest to gauge their prior knowledge of the historical era assessed by the hypermedia activity. During the second session, subjects answered ten questions that attempted to measure their comprehension of material found in the information retrieval hypertext system. Posttest questions were identical to pretest questions. Next, subjects rated their confidence in their ability to comprehend the hypertext reading material and to choose correct answers. Finally, two self-report instruments investigated possible limiting variables, such as computer knowledge and experience. Data from 18 subjects, who met the age requirements for inclusion in the study, were analyzed using descriptive, correlational and multiple regression statistics.
The results suggest several significant relationships among variables within the context of an information retrieval hypertext system. First, the findings point to the existence of a strong positive relationship between comprehension and metacomprehension. Next, the results indicate a moderate inverse relationship between time to complete the hypertext activity and a belief in Quick Learning as well as a moderate inverse relationship between GPA and Quick Learning. Finally, the outcomes imply a moderate positive relationship between GPA, comprehension and metacomprehension.
MacNeal, L.G. Epistemic beliefs and comprehension in a hypertext system. Ph.D. thesis, Widener University.
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