EFFECT OF EPISTEMIC BELIEF ON STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Epistemic beliefs are considered as a general construct of assumptions or presumptions about the nature of knowledge and knowing. It comprises the individual understanding of the nature of knowledge and the creation of knowledge. The term “epistemology” is used for centuries to refer to one of the basic fields of philosophy, which is the study of the nature and scope of knowledge and justified belief. BonJour(2002)opined that epistemic beliefs arethe nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief and justification. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that investigates what knowledge is and how people know whether they know something.

Greene and Edwards(2007); Alexander and Sinatra(2007) stated that epistemic beliefs have received much attention in the fields of educational and psychological research. It addresses questions such as: What is knowledge? How do people know if they really have knowledge? What provides a justification for any knowledge that they have? For example, on what grounds are people justified in believing that electrons have negative charge or that an accused robber is guilty? Are people convinced by sensory evidence, by testimonial evidence, by strong intuitions, or by some other means? Epistemologists, of course, have developed many ideas about how to answer questions.

In the research work, both the terms epistemological and epistemic are still used to refer to beliefs about the nature of knowledge and the process of knowing although recently, the latter has been used to a greater extent. For the purpose of conceptual and lexical clarity, some scholars in the field of educational psychology, Greene and Edwards (2007); Alexander and Sinatra(2007) proposed to distinguish beliefs about knowledge and knowing (epistemic) from beliefs about the study of knowledge (epistemology). Some years earlier, from philosophical perspective on psychology, R. F Kitchener (2002) argued in favour of the distinction of two different levels, the epistemic level and the theory of the level. It is most likely that students have epistemic beliefs.  However, the term is consistently us the adjective epistemic to refer to be beliefs as personal, implicit or explicit, assumptions about the source, nature and justification of knowledge. However, psychological approaches focus on the development and stability of epistemic beliefs, educational focuses on how epistemic beliefs, affect teaching activities Harteris, Gruber andLehner(2006) and learning processes Bauer, Festner, Gruber, Hateris andHeid(2004). Although there is substantial purview that shows that epistemic beliefs are of multi-dimensional phenomena that affect different aspects of students’ learning and education, less efforts have been made to study such relationship in African cultures, especially in Nigeria. (Muis, 2006) theoretically and empirically propounded that epistemic beliefs play an important role in cognition, motivation and learning. It seems to be a powerful concept, which can inform any instruction or curricular work.

The major problems affecting students in schools can mostly be defined as being obscure or certain and uncertain, that is, problems in which there is uncertainty about how they can most effectively be solved.  Oh and Jonassen 2007; Angeli and Valenides(2012) observed that cognitive processes are not enough reasons alone for solving them, the most especially because knowledge presumes or epistemic beliefs affect the ways that people naturally tend to addresses the affected problems. Analytic research findings have shown that peoples’ assumptions of knowledge do affect cognitive reasoning problem-solving.

The concept of optimism as mechanism for improving individual performance has been discussed in the management literature by different researchers. Though studies concerning optimism in the workplace are comparatively limited, yet specific evidences exist that connect the optimism with the achievement and improvement in individual’s personal and professional growth. McGuigan and Hoy(2006) stated that in academic field, optimism is one of the significant organizational and individual characteristics that have recently fascinated educational researchers' consideration in improving academic learning and achievement. The ability to live in optimistic manner is most probably drawn from an inherent inclination to be positive. Optimism is generally defined as the mental and emotional attitude in which an individual views life and the world from a positive perspective. It means that it is intrinsic in nature which motivates an individual to believe in positive side of life and put efforts for the desired outcomes.

Hofer, B.K (2008) suggested that epistemic beliefs should be divided into two major categories (a) nature of knowledge, and (b) nature of knowing. Nature of knowledge comprises of certainty of knowledge and simplicity of knowledge, while nature of knowing comprises of source of knowledge and justification of knowledge. Schommer-Aikins (2005) argued that epistemic beliefs can be in separate numbers of independent beliefs and consequently proposed three further beliefs, namely a belief in how ‘complex’ knowledge is (ranging from complex to simple), a belief in how certain knowledge is (ranging from highly certain to highly uncertain) and belief in the source of knowledge (for example, knowledge coming from authority. For example, a student may believe in complex but certain knowledge, complex but uncertain knowledge, simple and certain knowledge or simple but uncertain knowledge.

Academic achievement represents performance outcomes that indicate the extent to which a person has accomplished specific goals that were the focus of activities in instructional environments, specifically in school, college, and university. School systems mostly define cognitive goals that either apply across multiple subject areas (e.g. critical thinking) or include the acquisition of knowledge and understanding in a specific intellectual domain (e.g. numeracy, literacy, science, history). Therefore, academic achievement should be considered to be a multifaceted construct that comprises different domains of learning. Because the field of academic achievement is very wide-ranging and covers a broad variety of educational outcomes, the definition of academic achievement depends on the indicators used to measure it. Among the many criteria that indicate academic achievement, there are very general indicators such as procedural and declarative knowledge acquired in an educational system, more curricular-based criteria such as grades or performance on an educational achievement test, and cumulative indicators of academic achievement such as educational degrees and certificates. All criteria have in common that they represent intellectual endeavours and thus, more or less, mirror the intellectual capacity of a person.

In this article, the focus will be based mainly on the relationship between epistemic beliefs, problem solving and optimism factors influencing students’ achievement in accounting. There is substantial evidence that supports the claim the students’ belief systems play significant role in their learning and motivation in the classroom. There are numerous studies conducted about the academic achievement and the effective factors. Some of them have a closer relationship with the subject. Findings of the study reveal that the background variables have significant impacts on the academic performance of the students. Adeogun and Osifila (2008) examined that there are significant impacts of limited educational resources on student active performance. Having said this, lack of educational resources is seen as one of the major factors hindering achievement. The most influential theoretical account of epistemic beliefs as a multi-dimensional construct was developed by Schommer-Aikins (2005). Initially, Schommer differentiated between five more or less independent dimensions of epistemic beliefs (a) simplicity of knowledge (b) authority of knowledge (c) Certainty of knowledge (d) innate ability and (e) learning speed. Several positive factors influencing students’ achievements in accounting can never be over emphasized. Some of these factors are students’ personnel towards mathematics, classroom climate, accounting anxiety, teachers attribute as lack of experienced accounting teachers and shortage of qualified accounting teachers, teaching methods students beliefs and attributes towards accounting practice and teacher.

To sum it up, the basic tasks of epistemic beliefs can be summarized into main points. First, it offers a good opportunity to positive factors of students’ achievement and the relationship between epistemic beliefs, problem solving and optimism factors influencing students’ achievement. There is substantial evidence that supports the claim the students’ belief systems play significant role in their learning and motivation in the classroom. Second, accommodation with internal and external circumstances concerning problem solving and optimism factors of students’ achievements. Moreover, forming positive attitude towards knowledge, certainty and uncertainty, simplicity and justification and developing it are ones of the requirements towards making progress in accounting as well as tame some of their personality problems.

Statement of Problem

There has been a lot of argument as regards the epistemic belief, problem solving and optimism factors influencing students’ academic achievement. The major problems affecting students in schools can mostly be defined as being obscure or certain and uncertain, that is, problems in which there is uncertainty about how they can most effectively be solved.  The question is, is there any relationship between epistemic belief and the tendency to expect the best or at least a favourable outcome (optimism).

With this in mind, the main statement of problem for the study can now be phrased as follows. How do epistemic beliefs influence the way that students think about a problem? Optimism has a phenomenon in the corridor of education; to what extent has it influenced students?

Purpose of the Study

This study aims to examine the:

• Effect of epistemic belief on students’ achievement.

• Effect of optimism factors influencing on students’ achievement.

• The relationship between epistemic beliefs and optimism factors influencing students’ achievement.

• How epistemic beliefs during problem solving activities among a number of secondary school students in order to better understand how students with different types of epistemic beliefs think about the controversial problem and optimism factors relate to teaching adopt in Ondo state.

Research Questions

The project work comprises of two research question which are as follows;

• What is the combine influence of epistemic beliefs and optimism factors, problem solving on students’ academic achievement?

• What is the relative influence of epistemic beliefs and optimism factors influencing students’ academic achievement?

Benefits of the Study

This study is to know the correlation between epistemic belief, problem solving and optimism factors influencing students’ achievement. The project would look into the effect of epistemic belief and optimism factor on the method of teaching adopted by the students’ teacher and how problem solving affect the influencing students’ achievement taking Ondo state as a case study. This research provided with valuable information to reach a better understanding of how different factors influence students’ achievement in accounting in Ondo state. This study also will add more statistical data to prior accounting research, which will be used to improve the content, format, quality and teaching-learning processes.

Scope/ Delimitation

The study will cover selected secondary schools in Ondo state, the project work would be limited to Ondo state. The project is carried out within the purview of epistemic belief, problem solving and optimism factors influencing students’ achievement. Hence, the result will be applicable elsewhere outside the study area as long as it is within the academic achievement.

Definitions of Terms

Epistemic belief: Epistemic belief is belief as general construct of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and knowing.

Problem solving: Problem solving is the innovative solutions.

Optimism: Optimism is hopefulness and confidence about the future or success of something. Optimism is generally defined as the mental attitude in which an individual views life from a positive perspective.

Achievements: Achievements connotes final accomplishments of something noteworthy after much effort and often in spite of obstacles and discouragements.

Students: Students are learners who are ready to learn.

Accounting concepts: Accounting is defined as the basic assumptions which financial accounts of a business enterprise are prepared and presented.

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