Publication 7256

Tsai C.-C. (1997) The interplay between scientific epistemological beliefs and preferences for constructivist learning environments of Taiwanese eighth graders. In: Abrams R. (ed.) Proceedings of the Fourth International Misconceptions Seminar: From misconceptions to constructed understanding, 13–15 June 1997. The Meaningful Learning Research Group, Santa Cruz CA: **MISSING PAGES**. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/7256
Science educators have identified an individual’s epistemological beliefs about science as an essential feature of his (or her) conceptual ecology; these beliefs may shape his (or her) metalearning assumptions and then influence his (or her) learning orientations or preferences. This study was conducted to explore the interplay between students’ scientific epistemological beliefs and their preferences for constructivist learning environments. Through analyzing forty-eight Taiwanese eighth graders’ questionnaire responses, in-depth interview results and their reflections on a series of treatment lessons conducted by a combination of both traditional and constructivist instructional strategies, this study found that students having epistemological beliefs more oriented to constructivist views of science (as opposed to empiricist views about science) tended to show significantly stronger preferences to learn in the constructivist learning environments where they could (1) interact and negotiate meanings with others (p<. 05), (2) integrate their prior knowledge and experiences with newly constructed knowledge (p<. 05), and (3) meaningfully control their learning activities (p<. 001). Qualitative details also revealed that students holding constructivist epistemological beliefs about science tended to employ more meaningful strategies when learning science, whereas students having epistemological beliefs more aligned to empiricism tended to use rote-like learning strategies to enhance their understanding. However, students’ epistemological orientations were not significantly related to their achievement on traditional science tests. The main trust of the findings drawn from this study indicate that teachers need to be very aware of the student’s epistemological orientation toward scientific knowledge, and to complement these preferences when designing learning experiences, especially to provide constructivist-based lessons to enhance science learning by students who are constructivist-oriented.

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