Learning to integrate divergent information sources: the interplay of epistemic cognition and epistemic metacognition
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Learning to integrate multiple information sources is vital for advancing learners’ digital literacy. Previous studies have found that learners’ epistemic metacognitive knowledge about the nature of knowledge and knowing is related to their strategic integration performance. The purpose of this study was to understand how these relations come into play as students learn to integrate divergent information sources. To do so, we examined the contribution of scaffolds addressing the epistemic strategy of integration and epistemic metastrategic knowledge about this strategy. Participants were 99 high-achieving Arab Israeli ninth graders. All participants engaged in writing arguments based on divergent information sources. Students in the control condition received no scaffolds; students in the strategic condition received a strategic scaffold; and students in the metastrategic condition received both strategic and metastrategic scaffolds. Integration performance, epistemic metastrategic knowledge about integration, and absolutist, multiplist, and evaluativist epistemic perspectives were measured before, immediately after, and one month after the intervention. At pre-test, both epistemic metastrategic knowledge about integration and evaluativism were positive predictors of integration performance. The strategic scaffold led to a significant increase in integration performance and epistemic metastrategic knowledge. Adding the metastrategic scaffold led to greater improvement in epistemic metastrategic knowledge, but did not result in additional gains in strategic performance. An immediate decrease in absolutism occurred among all participants but was not sustained over time. A decrease in multiplism occurred only in the experimental groups and was sustained over time. The results suggest that epistemic growth can occur in both bottom-up and top-down directions.
KeywordsEpistemic cognition Epistemic metacognition Epistemic change Multiple document comprehension Integration
We are grateful to the vice-principal, science teacher, and students whose cooperation made this study possible. Maha Amer, Michael Weinstock, and Idit Rappel-London participated in developing the Arabic version of the Epistemic Thinking Assessment. We also thank Michael Weinstock for cultural advice and Øistein Anmarkrud for coding advice. Finally, we thank Clark Chinn, Jeffrey Greene, and three anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on earlier drafts of this paper that helped us improve the presentation of the study.
Compliance with ethical standards
The study was reviewed and approved by the Committee for Human Research Ethics of the University of Haifa (approval 200/14). Participants and their parents gave their informed consent for participation in the study.
This study was funded by a grant to Sarit Barzilai by the I-CORE Program of the Israel Council of Higher Education and the Israel Science Foundation, grant 1716/12.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
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