Students' Beliefs about Learning and Knowledge

Robert Kachelski, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University


College students, and people in general, differ in their beliefs about learning and knowledge. Some believe that knowledge is made up of largely isolated bits of unchanging facts that can be learned fairly quickly from authorities such as professors and textbooks. Others believe that knowledge consists of networks of connected, continually evolving concepts that are learned gradually through experience, critical thinking and active construction of links among related ideas. In this Thursday Forum, I presented the results of my research on this topic over the last several years, in which I have used surveys and interviews to examine over 500 college students' beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning (epistemological beliefs) and how these beliefs are related to their academic performance, their study strategies, the teaching methods and classroom activities they perceive as effective, and other measures.