Current views of the world, desires, dreams, goals, and the demands placed upon society are constantly transformed by present epistemological beliefs. Schommer-Aikens and Hutter (2002) investigated the relationship between an individuals’ belief about knowledge, learning or epistemological beliefs and how this relates to average conversational issues (Schommer-Aikens , Hutter, 2002). Using a study group of 174 adults ranging in age from 17 to 71, Schommer-Aikens and Hutter (2002) posed questions assessing beliefs of knowledge and the speed control of learning. Feldman addressed how assumptions become scientific knowledge by stating “Sometimes we know things by reasoning or inference. When we know some facts and see that those facts support some further fact, we can come to know that further fact. Scientific knowledge, for example, seems to arise from inferences from observational data” (Feldman, 2003, p. 3).
Understanding how assumptions move into scientific knowledge it becomes apparent how these assumptions are qualified in research. The authors used regression analysis to quantify the assumptions of the participants as they relate to knowledge, learning, multiple perspectives, and ultimately the development of epistemological beliefs. This analysis will further identify philosophical assumptions underlying the research; explain the practical significance of these assumptions and their effect on its applicability to other authors and post-positive thinkers.
Philosophical Assumptions Underlying the Research
Feldman (2003) stated that epistemology, the theory of knowledge is a philosophy that looks into the questions about knowledge and rational. Epistemologist`s tend to focus or concentrate on questions of principal aspects involving knowledge and how those beliefs regulate coherent belief. Those within the field are less concerned about the validity of knowledge or coherent belief, be it correct or incorrect but focus more on causes (Feldman, 2003, p. 1). To that extent Schommer-Aikens and Hutter (2002) conducted a survey of 174 participants, including 120 women and 54 men. The ages of the participants ranged from 17 to 71 years of age and included various personal and educational backgrounds. Through the Schommer epistemological questioner participants, including chemical engineers, clerks, homemakers, factory workers, pharmacists, and teachers of both genders. These participants were asked a number of questions that incorporated religious, educational, societal and personal beliefs. Questions were ranked in a likert- type scale ranging from strongly disagrees to strongly agree (Schommer-Aiker, Hutter, 2002).
Schommer-Aikens and Hutter state “The results coming from epistemological research suggest that individual`s beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning are linked to their comprehension, metacomprehension, interpretation of information and persistence in working on difficult academic tasks” (Schommer-Aikens, Hutter, 2002, p. 6). The authors contend that individuals who believe knowledge is isolated into segmented bits and not taken as a sum total perform more poorly in the compression of mathematical, physiological, and medical textbooks (Schommer-Aikens, Hutter, 2002). This statement confirms that knowledge or epistemological commitments are a collection of data and understanding and not segmented or isolated bits of information. The assumption is those who tend to segregate knowledge and who do not attain a higher degree of education have difficulty in their own epistemological commitments.
This is further evident in the writings of Quine and Kuhn as these authors beleive “science is a continuation of common-sense” (Delanty & Strydom, 2003, p. 22). According to these authors common, everyday decisions made by the common man and woman play a significant role in the creation of science. Whereas the purpose of the epistemological study was to extend epistemological beliefs to an individual’s everyday life, it was also designed to reflect on academic studies. This particular article using the Schommer epistemological belief survey makes several assumptions.
Those assumptions state those with a higher level of education are more likely to take on multiple perspectives, withhold decisions until information was available, acknowledge the complexity of everyday issues and were willing to modify thought processes or thinking (Schommer-Aikens, Hutter, 2002). The inference is those who take knowledge as a collection of data, not as segmented bits along with the attaining of a higher level of education were equipped for complex or critical thinking. This enabled each to understand the complexity of life, make crucial decisions, understand varying viewpoints and able to adapt as understanding grew. These assumptions have a practical significance and affect research.
The Practical Significance of Assumptions and Their Effect on Research
Inferences and practical assumptions are drawn during the research of this article, and one could argue some of the assumptions made were drawn before the research study ever began. Through personal epistemological beliefs society has long held the conviction those who attain a higher level of education are able to deal with the complexities of life. The practical significance of assumptions and their effect on the research conducted are visible in the work of Johnson and Duberley as they state “both within and outside of our organizations our behavior is internally motivated, and internally justified, by what we believe about “the World” (Johnson & Duberley, 2000, p. 2). Often in preparing for such a survey the focus group of participants used along with the questions themselves distort the data and thus the results to achieve a desired result. While in this case the participants have diverse backgrounds and have achieved differing degrees of education, making such assertions could distort data.
Assumptions and Research Methodology
Kuhn preferred historical science and by building upon prior knowledge Kuhn (2012) believes this research and evidence was already available enabling that data to be tested using deferring mechanisms to either prove or disprove a current or prior theory. While not opposed to the empirical testing, it was his belief that details must be obtained for research. It is through this historical science and data that assumptions within society and within science about our understanding of epistemological belief have come into existence. Popper states the empirical method makes good use of a criticized approach to the method (Delanty & Strydom, 2003). The empirical method tests each system ensuring the best system moves forward after all methods have been tried, tested, and proved. Schommer-Aikens and Hutter (2000) used questions, including “You never know what a book means unless you know the intent of the author” and “It’s a waste of time to work on problems which have no possibility of coming out with clear-cut and unambiguous answers” (Schommer-Aikens, Hutter, 2000).
These answers along with others were used as a measurement in epistemological belief comparing their answers and their level of education to gauge how those answers compared with historical norms (Schommer-Aikens, Hutter, 2000). This data was then taken and a regression model developed to extract the stated research and ultimately assumptions made. Schommer-Aikens and Hutter (2000) in turn came to the same assumptions and epistemological commitments already held within social and physical science to date. The research quantified and validated the assumptions held by historical science that one’s epistemological beliefs are shaped and re-shaped by the ability to link through learning, multiple perspectives, and ultimately the development of epistemological beliefs. The ability for humans to use successfully address complex issues, attain paradigm shifts in their understanding of the world and develop are inevitably linked with thought processes and knowledge gained through higher education.
A person’s thoughts, feelings, emotion, and beliefs often shape ones decision-making process. Other components, including perception, memory, introspection, and reasoning also assist in the formation of opinions, shape our knowledge, and transform an individual’s viewpoint (Feldman, 2003, p. 3). Perception is how one sees the world around them, the sights, sounds, smells, and other senses creates an understanding of the external environment creating a mental image and often places an attachment to it. Through their research Schommer-Aikens and Hutter (2002) investigated the relationship between and individuals’ belief about knowledge, learning or epistemological beliefs and how this relates to average conversational issues (Schommer-Aikens , Hutter,2002).
Using the regression model the authors quantified the beliefs and assumptions the conclusion of which is a culmination of historical science supported by this recent research. While post-positive thinking like Kuhn, Quine, and Popper may differ in view about the empirical method, testing, and paradigm shifts as theories change over time the core belief of epistemological commitment remain comparable. A sentence sums up this article and the accompanying research as it pertains to epistemological belief. Those with a higher level of education are more likely to take on multiple perspectives, withhold decisions until information was available, acknowledge the complexity of everyday issues and were willing to modify thought processes or thinking (Schommer-Aikens, Hutter, 2002).
Delanty, G. & Strydom, P. (Eds). (2003). Philosophies of Social Science: The Classic and Contemporary readings. Philadelphia, Pa: Mcgraw-Hill. https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content Feldman, R. (2003). Epistemology. Prentice Hall. The University of Phoenix. https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content. Kuhn, T. (2012). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago, Il. University of Chicago Press .https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content. Schommer-Aikins, M., & Hutter, R. (2002). Epistemological Beliefs and Thinking About Everyday Controversial Issues. Journal Of Psychology, 136(1), 5.https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content. Johnson, P. & Duberley, J. (2000). Understanding Management Research: An Introduction to Epistemology. Thousand Oaks CA. Sage Publishing. Prentice Hall. https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/content/eBookLibrary2/content.
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