Measuring epistemic beliefs about grammar
Keywords:L1 grammar, epistemic beliefs, reflective thinking, convergent thinking, divergent thinking, pre-university students
In current educational reform much attention is paid to the development of awareness, reflective thinking, and higher order thinking. In language education, the importance of reflectivity for stimulating linguistic awareness and higher order thinking has been emphasized. Crucial for reflective thinking are the underlying assumptions individuals have regarding the nature of knowledge and knowing, so-called epistemic beliefs. Measuring these beliefs is problematic in the domain of language education, where little is known about students’ epistemic beliefs about grammar. This study aims to develop an instrument for measuring students’ epistemic beliefs in the L1 grammar domain. We therefore transposed a questionnaire for measuring beliefs about history into the domain of grammar. Seven linguistic experts and 300 pre-university students from the Netherlands and Belgium completed this questionnaire about grammar. Exploratory factor analysis extracted two factors, which we argue reflect convergent and divergent thinking. This study shows that students’ scores on convergent thinking are higher than the experts’ scores, and that students’ scores on divergent thinking are lower than the experts’ scores. The results also show that students’ scores on epistemic beliefs on divergent thinking are higher than their scores on epistemic beliefs on convergent thinking. Possible explanations for these observations are discussed.