International Education Research

International Education Research

ISSN: 2291-5273 (Print)    ISSN: 2291-5281 (Online)

Volume 2 (2014), No. 1, Pages 17-32

DOI: 10.12735/ier.v2i1p17

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What were They Thinking? Using Cognitive Interviewing to Examine the Validity of Self-Reported Epistemic Beliefs

Krista R. Muis1  Melissa C. Duffy1  Gregory Trevors1  John Ranellucci1  Michael Foy2 

1Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, Faculty of Education, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
2Department of Psychology, John Abbott College, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Canada

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We employed cognitive interviewing with a sample of secondary, college, undergraduate and graduate students to examine the cognitive validity of a popular epistemic beliefs self-report measure, the Discipline-Focused Epistemological Beliefs Questionnaire [DFEBQ] (Hofer, 2000). In addition, we examined cognitive validity across two domains. Analyses of interviews revealed that cognitive validity was good, wherein students’ responses were typically within an expected range of interpretations. However, students’ interpretations of items were not always consistent with researchers’ intended meanings, interpretations sometimes differed across domains, and that the response option “3” as a neutral response was not always used as intended. To improve validity of self-report measures of epistemic beliefs more generally, we recommend that explicit anchors are used, such as “mathematician” instead of “expert,” and that definitions of the dimensions are presented to respondents to ensure interpretations align with researchers’ intended meanings. We end with broader methodological implications.

Keywords: epistemic beliefs, cognitive interviewing, domain differences

To Cite this Article: Muis, K. R., Duffy, M. C., Trevors, G., Ranellucci, J., & Foy, M. (2014). What were they thinking? Using cognitive interviewing to examine the validity of self-reported epistemic beliefs. International Education Research, 2(1), 17-32.

Copyright © Krista R. Muis et al.

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This article is published under license to Science and Education Centre of North America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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What were They Thinking? Using Cognitive Interviewing to Examine the Validity of Self-Reported Epistemic Beliefs