Student Perceptions of Justification in Two Disparate Domains: Education and Biology

Christi Lea Dawson, Maeghan N Hennessey, Kelli Higley


This study investigated the perceptions of epistemic justification of student in two disparate domains of study to determine if any similarities and differences in their methods of justification exist. Two samples of students, or a total of 513 undergraduates from educational psychology (n=193) and biology (n=320) courses, completed a domain-general instrument that measured student views of pedagogical practices designed to enhance epistemic justification. A 3-factor solution best fit the data for both samples, but there were similarities and differences in the factors identified for the two samples. Students in both samples conceptualized the importance of collecting data or observable evidence to aid in making links between concepts as well as recognized the importance of both internal and external justification practices. One important distinction between the two samples is that those in the education sample distinguished between verifying core concepts and verifying connections using observable evidence, but the biology sample did not. Results suggest there are differences between the methods of justification conceptualized by students from the two different domains. Suggestions for future research are forwarded.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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