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Contemplations on results from investigating the personal epistemology of computing students.

McDermott, Roger; Pirie, Iain; Laxer, Cary; Cajander, Åsa; Daniels, Mats


Iain Pirie

Cary Laxer

Åsa Cajander

Mats Daniels


'Personal Epistemology' is the analysis of the ways in which an individual perceives what constitutes knowledge, its boundaries, how it is justified, and how it is related to learning. While investigation of metacognitive strategies used by students is now an established research topic within Computer Science and Information Technology education, the study of personal epistemology is relatively undeveloped. This is so despite there being significant epistemological issues associated with learning the subject itself, such as those concerned with the way in which programming exercises change from convergent to divergent problems, or the process by which software project management problems very quickly become ill-defined. In this paper, we describe a preliminary investigation into the personal epistemology of two cohorts of computing students. We review some models of personal epistemological development and describe an empirical study in which we investigated the dimensions of epistemological beliefs of two cohorts of computing students. The results show that there appears to be a wide range of epistemological belief amongst computing students. Finally, we make some observations about the importance of personal epistemology for learning in Computer Science and outline further work in this area.


MCDERMOTT, R., PIRIE, I., LAXER, C., CAJANDER, A. and DANIELS, M. 2013. Contemplations on results from investigating the personal epistemology of computing students. In Proceedings of the 2013 Frontiers in education conference (FIE 2013): energizing the future, 23-26 October 2013, Oklahoma City, USA. Piscataway: IEEE [online], article number 6684941, pages 825-831. Available from:

Conference Name 2013 Frontiers in education conference (FIE 2013)
Conference Location Oklahoma City, USA
Start Date Oct 23, 2013
End Date Oct 26, 2013
Acceptance Date Oct 26, 2013
Online Publication Date Oct 26, 2013
Publication Date Dec 19, 2013
Deposit Date Mar 14, 2017
Publicly Available Date Mar 14, 2017
Print ISSN 0190-5848
Publisher Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Article Number 6684941
Pages 825-831
Series ISSN 0190-5848
Keywords Illstructured problems; Personal epistemology; Epistemological beliefs; Learning
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