University of Phoenix
A Week 3 assignment in the class, PHL/717 Constructing Meaning, required a philosophical analysis of an article in the Journal of Psychology. The article investigated how the connection between knowledge and learning influenced individuals to think about controversial everyday issues. The analysis included identifying philosophical assumptions, explaining practical significance and applicability, and relating assumptions and methodology to class readings.
Journal Article Analysis
An article in the Journal of Psychology investigated how the connection between knowledge and learning influenced individuals to think about controversial everyday issues. The completion of a questionnaire followed by a series of questions about two controversial issues produced the conclusions of this research paper. This analysis of that research identifies the philosophical assumptions behind the research and methodology, explains the practicality of the assumptions, and examines the effect on the research’s applicability. Finally, a relationship with post-positivist thinking is established. Assumptions
The premise for the research study by Schommer-Aikins and Hutter (2002) engulfed an interest in looking beyond the classroom to see how epistemological beliefs influence the very ordinary people think about contemporary controversial issues. Prior research focused on the development of epistemological beliefs and influence on thinking in academia (p. 7). Accumulating evidence revealed links between epistemological beliefs and higher order thinking. The authors expanded their research to a larger outside population with varying degrees of education, a wide range of ages as well as diverse life experiences.
Most epistemological researchers thought of personal epistemology as a complex, one-dimensional belief (Schommer-Aikins, 2002). Schommer, in earlier studies, conceived of these beliefs as a system of beliefs, which dwelled at different levels of sophistication. The working assumption for the questionnaire was it captured default characteristics of four beliefs. Using the questionnaire she developed, the questionnaire assessed the stability of knowledge, the structure of knowledge, the control of learning, and the speed of learning (Schommer-Aikins & Hutter, 2002). The authors stated, “Test-retest reliabilities [of the questionnaire] range from .60 to .89 for the four factors” (Schommer-Aikins, 2002, p. 10). Previous studies confirmed the predictive validity of the questionnaire.
Following completion of the questionnaire, participants answered open-ended questions about two controversial issues. Answers (multiple-choice or yes/no) chosen by the participants required further explanation about why they chose the answer they did. The authors looked for six specific thinking dispositions (Schommer-Aikins & Hutter, 2002): 1. taking multiple perspectives;
2. acknowledging the complexity of issues;
3. engaging in flexible thinking;
4. acknowledging the evolving nature of knowledge;
5. questioning omniscient authority; and
6. making decisions in a thoughtful and reflective manner (p. 9).
Based on results from previous studies on college students, Schommer-Aikins and Hutter (2002) developed their hypotheses from the assumption critical thinking about controversial issues engages epistemological beliefs. They theorized the less individuals believe in simple knowledge, the more likely they engage in higher order thinking (p. 9). Stability of knowledge includes issues of the tentativeness of knowledge, so higher order thinking about evolving knowledge and all-knowing authority precludes belief in certain knowledge (p. 9). Their final supposition involves the speed of learning (or how gradually learning takes place). This involves the time dedicated to study, they hypothesize the less individuals believe learning is quick or...