International Journal of Educational Research vol:45 pages:57-70
Over the years, research on students’ epistemological beliefs has resulted in a growing common understanding but there are still some major points of discussion. Especially, the lack of consensus on the context-general and/or context-specific nature of epistemological beliefs deserves our attention.
We argue that research in the field today is mainly characterized by a top-down approach that investigates students’ domain-specific beliefs from a general epistemological perspective. Alternatively, we report on one of our studies as well as some other research that takes a bottom-up approach starting from students’ domain-specific belief systems and analyzing their epistemic
dimensions. Results of these studies point to the highly domain-specific nature of students’ beliefs about knowledge and knowing. Therefore, a conceptual distinction between students’ general epistemological beliefs and the epistemic dimensions of domain-related belief systems is recommended as a more appropriate way to address the context-general–context-specific discussion on epistemological beliefs.