The Faculty of Education greets with pride Dr. Sarit Barzilai from the Dept. of Learning, Instruction and Teacher Education for receiving with Prof. Clark A. Chinn from Rutgers University, USA, a respectful research grant from the the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF). The grant was given to a joint study of the two scholars aiming to create an innovative growth model of epistemic thought, using a micro-genetic methodology. In addition, Dr. Sarit Barzilai was awarded with the prestigious BSF Bergman award, given to young scholars who submit exceptionally outstanding research proposals.
Modeling Epistemic Growth: A Microgenetic Study of the Development of Epistemic Cognition
Dr. Sarit Barzilai, Department of Learning, Instruction, and Teacher Education, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Israel
Prof. Clark A. Chinn, Department of Educational Psychology, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA
In modern knowledge societies, learners are often faced with conflicting information sources that present different explanations or claims regarding the same phenomena. To effectively deal with conflicting information, learners need to acquire a rich repertoire of strategies for evaluating the sources of knowledge (e.g., judging authors’ trustworthiness), for evaluating the reliability of knowledge claims (e.g., judging the adequacy of evidence for claims), and for reconciling conflicting accounts (e.g., corroborating information). To successfully employ such strategies, learners need to develop effective criteria for judging the reliability and quality of sources, evidence, and arguments. Last, but not least, learners are likely to effectively engage in such strategies if they care about aims such as getting to the bottom of the matter, understanding the issue at hand, and forming reasonable judgements.
The purpose of our study is to understand how learners come to acquire such epistemic strategies, criteria, and aims, and how they develop the ability to apply these effectively in the context of everyday reasoning about conflicting sources of information. To achieve this goal, we plan to closely track how pairs of adolescents think about multiple conflicting scientific information sources as they engage in weekly discussions over a period of three months. We expect that as the participants in our study repeatedly encounter various types of conflicts, they will gradually develop better and more diverse strategies and criteria for evaluating and integrating conflicting information sources and will come to appreciate the importance of making valid judgements. We are particularly interested in identifying conditions (e.g., particular types of information sources, social interactions, or reflections) that can enable or inhibit such development. Mapping these conditions will enable us to offer a new model of epistemic growth and to suggest new ways for improving people’s ways of knowing.
The study is funded by the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) during 2017– 2019.