December 10, 2012
Dr. Kathy Downey
University of Phoenix
Epistemology, or the study of knowledge, requires the scholar analyze the what, how, and why’s of their own knowledge. Asking these questions of themselves is essentially applying that which they have learned. There are different origins of knowledge as conceptualized by philosophers, educators, and scientists. Early philosophers defined knowledge as “justified true belief” (Cooper, pg. 23). In order for an individual to know something it must be true, he or she must believe it, and the belief in it must be justified or rationally reasonable. Later, early modern philosophers required knowledge to be proven and absolute. The scientific method was employed to provide proof for ideas and beliefs. The means by which knowledge is acquired varies. Feldman cites sources of knowledge as perception, expert testimony, memory, reasoning, and introspection (Feldman, 2003). As an educator, instructing primary age students on a daily basis, I must not only have great insight into what I believe, but I also must have insight into my student’s knowledge as well. Instructors need to know a number of things about their students, such as: Do the students have adequate prior knowledge to understand the new material being presented? Are the students sufficiently motivated to engage in the cognitive tasks required of them? Does the information fit an existing scheme of knowledge or will it require some alteration of current understanding? Understanding what my student know and at what depth they are able to apply that knowledge guides my instruction. My natural curiosity, a natural inclination for question, and a need for answers motivate the search for explanations. Knowledge and wisdom give an understanding of our position, role, and function in the world. Achterbergh and Vriens (2002) stated, “The role of knowledge in generating appropriate actions is that it serves as a background for articulating possible courses of action (articulation), for judging whether courses of action will yielded the intended result and for using this judgment in selecting among them (selection), for deciding how actions should be implemented and for actually implementing action (implementation)” (pg. 223). Knowledge enables interpretation of experiences, predictions of consequences, and provides the ability to make informed decisions. My own personal epistemology is a product of each of these views. Personal experiences have a major influence on beliefs and should be an acceptable source of knowledge but not the only consideration when acquiring knowledge. There is also a place for the scientific method which offers proven data to base knowledge. For me, knowledge is a product of reasoning (Feldman, 2003). I derive knowledge from information imported through different modes and from various sources, such as personal experiences, advice from experts, and data. These inputs of information are cognitively processed and filtered with the reference to past experience and prior knowledge to become new “justified true beliefs” (Cooper, ). Thus, knowledge acquisition is a process involving the collection of raw data or information, reasoning, and judgment making. For example, after my students have taken a test, I look at the data, think about the patterns in the data, or the lack of a pattern using prior knowledge and experiences as a filter. Finally, I decide what my next step or strategy will be. Do I need to reteach the subject because the pattern suggests that most of my students did not fully understand the skill or concept? Or do I move on to another more complex skill or concept because my students have proven themselves knowledgeable? It is in this way that I acquire knowledge and apply that knowledge to planning lessons for my students. Many of my colleagues rely solely on the scientific method to make decisions in regards to student...
References: Achterbergh,J., Vriens, D. (May-June 2002). Managing viable knowledge. “Systems Research and Behavioral Science.” V19i3p223 (19).
Cooper, D.E. (Ed.). (1999). Epistemology: The classic readings. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Feldman R. (2003). Epistemology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Hetzner, Amy, 2011. Walk-throughs give school administrators firsthand view of staff in action. JSOnline: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. May 14, 2011. Retrieved on November 20, 2012 from: http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/121843078.html
Porterville Unified School District, 2012 . PUSD: Vision and mission statements. Retrieved on November 20, 2012 from: http://dnn.portervilleschools.org/dotnetnuke/District/VisionMission.aspx
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