Sandoval - JLS 2009

In Defense of Clarity in the Study of Personal Epistemology
Journal of the Learning Sciences, Volume 18, Issue 1 January 2009 , pages 150 - 161
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10508400802581700

William A. Sandoval

Andrew Elby (this issue) argues that researchers in the field of personal epistemology should beware insistence on a narrow definition of epistemology to guide this work. His argument is a response to suggestions (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997; Sandoval, 2005) that the study of personal epistemology should focus on people's views about knowledge and knowing and not conflate those with views about learning. His main concern is that learners' views about knowledge and their views about learning may, in fact, be conflated and that an insistence on definitional clarity could lead to a mischaracterization of cognitive structures. In this response I argue that clarity in the definition of theoretical constructs does not imply exclusion of views about learning from the study of personal epistemology. Furthermore, given the history of this area of research, failing to more clearly define our constructs makes real theoretical progress difficult.