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Investigation into the personal epistemology of computer science students.

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


Roger McDermott

Iain Pirie

Åsa Cajander

Mats Daniels

Cary Laxer


In this paper, we investigate the personal epistemology of computing students, that is, their conceptions of knowledge and learning. We review some models of personal epistemological development and describe one of the questionnaire tools that have been used to assess the epistemological beliefs of students studying in other disciplines. We describe an experiment that uses one of these tools, together with exploratory factor analysis, to determine the dimensions of epistemological beliefs of a cohort of computing students and compare the results with that reported in other contexts. The results, while not reproducing the details of previous work, do seem to suggest that there are indeed multiple dimensions to personal epistemology, and that these can be identified, to a large extent, with those recognised by other researchers. Finally, we make some observations about the importance of personal epistemology for learning in Computer Science and outline further work in this area.

Start Date Jul 1, 2013
Publication Date Jul 3, 2013
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery
Pages 231-236
ISBN 9781450320788
Institution Citation MCDERMOTT, R., PIRIE, I., CAJANDER, A., DANIELS, M. and LAXER, C. 2013. Investigation into the personal epistemology of computer science students. In Proceedings of the 18th Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Innovation and technology in computer science education conference (ITiCSE 2013), 1-3 July 2013, Canterbury, UK. New York: ACM [online], pages 231-236. Available from:
Keywords Personal epistemology; Epistemological beliefs; Pedagogy; Learning; Factor analysis


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