Epistemic Beliefs and Googling

Main Article Content

Tore Ståhl


With the introduction of internet as a source of information, parents have observed youngsters’ tendency to prefer internet as a source, and almost a reluctance to learn in advance since “you can look it up when needed”. Questions arise, such as ‘Are these phenomena symptoms of changing beliefs about knowledge and learning? Is it at all possible to learn on a deeper level simply by looking up the basic facts, without memorizing them?’

Within an existing line of investigation, epistemic beliefs have been described as a set of dimensions. Although internet-based information and internet as a source of information have been acknowledged, studies so far have not explored how dealing with internet-based information relates to other epistemic beliefs dimensions.

To capture how users view internet-based information per se but also in relation to other epistemic beliefs, I suggest three new dimensions, out of which the most crucial is labelled ‘Internet reliance’. Offloading memory using memory aids is not a new phenomenon but the ‘Internet reliance’ dimension indicates that especially internet-reliant users may be confusing external information with personal knowledge, with all the risks it may entail.

Besides including beliefs about learning, this study also challenges earlier assumptions regarding uncorrelated dimensions.

Article Details

How to Cite
Ståhl, T. (2019). Epistemic Beliefs and Googling. Frontline Learning Research, 7(3), 27–63. https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v7i3.417


Aditomo, A. (2018). Epistemic beliefs and academic performance across soft and hard disciplines in the first year of college. Journal of further and Higher Education, 42(4), 482-496. doi:10.1080/0309877X.2017.1281892

Alexander, P. A. (2006). What Would Dewey Say? Channeling Dewey on the Issue of Specificity of Epistemic Beliefs: A Response to Muis, Bendixen, and Haerle (2006). Educational Psychology Review, 18(1), 55-65. doi:10.1007/s10648-006-9002-7

Anderson, S., & Balsamo, A. (2008). A Pedagogy for Original Synners. In T. McPherson (Ed.), Digital Young, Innovation, and the Unexpected (1st ed., pp. 241-259). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. doi:10.1162/dmal.9780262633598.241

Bernholt, A., Gruber, H., & Moschner, B. (Eds.). (2017). Wissen und Lernen. Wie epistemische Überzeugungen Schule, Universität und Arbeitswelt beeinflussen [Knowing and learning. The influence of epistemic beliefs on schools, universities and working life]. Münster: Waxmann Verlag.

Bhatt, I., & MacKenzie, A. (2019). Just Google it! Digital literacy and the epistemology of ignorance. Teaching in Higher Education, 24(3), 302-317. doi:10.1080/13562517.2018.1547276

Bråten, I. (2008). Personal Epistemology, Understanding of Multiple Texts, and Learning Within Internet Technologies. In M. S. Khine (Ed.), Knowing, Knowledge and Beliefs: Epistemological Studies across Diverse Cultures (pp. 351-376). Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6596-5_17

Bråten, I., Brandmo, C., & Kammerer, Y. (2018). A Validation Study of the Internet-Specific Epistemic Justification Inventory With Norwegian Preservice Teachers. Journal of Educational Computing Research, (OnlineFirst), 1-24. doi:10.1177/0735633118769438

Bråten, I., & Strømsø, H. I. (2006). Epistemological beliefs, interest, and gender as predictors of Internet-based learning activities. Computers in Human Behavior, 22(6), 1027-1042. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2004.03.026

Bråten, I., Strømsø, H. I., & Samuelstuen, M. S. (2005). The Relationship between Internet-Specific Epistemological Beliefs and Learning within Internet Technologies. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 33(2), 141-171. doi:10.2190%2FE763-X0LN-6NMF-CB86

Brownlee, J., Walker, S., Lennox, S., Exley, B., & Pearce, S. (2009). The first year university experience: using personal epistemology to understand effective learning and teaching in higher education. Higher Education, 58(5), 599-618. doi:10.1007/s10734-009-9212-2

Cape, P. (2010). (2010). Questionnaire Length, Fatigue Effects and Response Quality Revisited. Paper presented at the Re:Think 2010: The ARF 56th Annual Convention, NY. Retrieved from https://www.surveysampling.com/

Carifio, J., & Perla, R. J. (2007). Ten Common Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, Persistent Myths and Urban Legends about Likert Scales and Likert Response Formats and their Antidotes. Journal of Social Sciences, 3(3), 106-116. doi:10.3844/jssp.2007.106.116

Chiu, Y., Liang, J., & Tsai, C. (2013). Internet-specific epistemic beliefs and self-regulated learning in online academic information searching. Metacognition and Learning, 8(3), 235-260. doi:10.1007/s11409-013-9103-x

Clark, A., & Chalmers, D. (1998). The extended mind. Analysis, 58(1), 7-19. doi:10.1093/analys/58.1.7

DeBacker, T. K., Crowson, H. M., Beesley, A. D., Thoma, S. J., & Hestevold, N. L. (2008). The Challenge of Measuring Epistemic Beliefs: An Analysis of Three Self-Report Instruments. Journal of Experimental Education, 76(3), 281-312. doi:10.3200/jexe.76.3.281-314

Downes, S. (2007). An Introduction to Connective Knowledge. Paper presented at the Media, Knowledge and Education: Exploring New Spaces, Relations and Dynamics in Digital Media Ecologies, ed. T. Hug, innsbruck university press, Innsbruck, Austria, 2007, June 25-26, pp. 77-102.

Elby, A. (2009). Defining Personal Epistemology: A Response to Hofer & Pintrich (1997) and Sandoval (2005). Journal of the Learning Sciences, 18(1), 138-149. doi:10.1080/10508400802581684

Fabrigar, L. R., Wegener, D. T., MacCallum, R. C., & Strahan, E. J. (1999). Evaluating the Use of Exploratory Factor Analysis in Psychological Research. Psychological Methods, 4(3), 272-299.

Ferguson, R. (2012). Learning analytics: drivers, developments and challenges. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 4(5), 304-317. doi:10.1504/IJTEL.2012.051816

Finch, W. H., Immekus, J. C., & French, B. F. (2016). Applied Psychometrics Using SPSS and AMOS. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc.

Fisher, M., Goddu, M. K., & Keil, F. C. (2015). Searching for Explanations: How the Internet Inflates Estimates of Internal Knowledge. Journal of Experimental Psychology, General, 144(3), 674-687. doi:10.1037/xge0000070

Fokkema, M., & Greiff, S. (2017). How Performing PCA and CFA on the Same Data Equals Trouble. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 33(6), 399-402. doi:10.1027/1015-5759/a000460

Greene, J. A., Azevedo, R., & Torney-Purta, J. (2008). Modeling Epistemic and Ontological Cognition: Philosophical Perspectives and Methodological Directions. Educational Psychologist, 43(3), 142-160. doi:10.1080/00461520802178458

Greene, J. A., Sandoval, W. A., & Bråten, I. (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of Epistemic Cognition. New York: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315795225. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/

Grossnickle Peterson, E., Alexander, P. A., & List, A. (2017). The argument for epistemic competence. In A. Bernholt, H. Gruber & B. Moschner (Eds.), Wissen und Lernen. Wie epistemische Überzeugungen Schule, Universität und Arbeitswelt beeinflussen (pp. 255-270). Münster: Waxmann Verlag.

Gunter, B., Rowlands, I., & Nicholas, D. (2009). The Google Generation. Are ICT innovations changing information-seeking behaviour? Cambridge: Chandos Publishing. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/

Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., & Anderson, R. E. (2010). Multivariate Data Analysis: A Global Perspective (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River (N.J.): Prentice Hall.

Head, A. J., & Eisenberg, M. B. (2010). How today’s college students use Wikipedia for course-related research. First Monday, 15(3). doi:10.5210/fm.v15i3.2830

Hinman, L. M. (2008). Searching Ethics: The Role of Search Engines in the Construction and Distribution of Knowledge. In A. Spink, & M. Zimmer (Eds.), Web Search - Multidisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 67-76). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-75829-7_3. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/

Hofer, B. K. (2006). Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing: Integrating Domain Specificity and Domain Generality: A Response to Muis, Bendixen, and Haerle (2006). Educational Psychology Review, 18(1), 67-76. doi:10.1007/s10648-006-9000-9

Hofer, B. K. (2008). Personal Epistemology and Culture. In M. S. Khine (Ed.), Knowing, Knowledge and Beliefs: Epistemological Studies across Diverse Cultures (pp. 3-22). Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6596-5_1

Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (1997). The Development of Epistemological Theories: Beliefs about Knowledge and Knowing and Their Relation to Learning. Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 88-140. doi:10.2307/1170620

Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (Eds.). (2002). Personal Epistemology: The Psychology of Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing. Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates. doi:10.4324/9781410604316

Hooper, D., Coughlan, J., & Mullen, M. (2008). Structural Equation Modelling: Guidelines for Determining Model Fit. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 6(1), 53-60. Retrieved from http://www.ejbrm.com/volume6/issue1/p53

Jones, C., & Hosein, A. (2010). Profiling University Students' Use of Technology: Where is the Net Generation Divide? International Journal of Technology, Knowledge & Society, 6(3), 43-58. doi:10.18848/1832-3669/cgp/v06i03/56097

Kammerer, Y., & Gerjets, P. (2012). Effects of search interface and Internet-specific epistemic beliefs on source evaluations during Web search for medical information: an eye-tracking study. Behaviour & Information Technology, 31(1), 83-97. doi:10.1080/0144929X.2011.599040

Karimi, M. N. (2014). EFL students' grammar achievement in a hypermedia context: Exploring the role of Internet-specific personal epistemology. System, 42, 1-11. doi:10.1016/j.system.2013.10.017

Khine, M. S. (Ed.). (2008). Knowing, Knowledge and Beliefs: Epistemological Studies across Diverse Cultures. Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6596-5. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/

Kienhues, D., Bromme, R., & Stahl, E. (2008). Changing epistemological beliefs: The unexpected impact of a short-term intervention. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(4), 545-565. doi:10.1348/000709907x268589

Kitchener, R. F. (2002). Folk epistemology: An introduction. New Ideas in Psychology, 20(2–3), 89-105. doi:10.1016/S0732-118X(02)00003-X

Knewton. (2011). The Flipped Classroom Infographic. Retrieved from http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/, 03.08.2012

Knight, S., Rienties, B., Littleton, K., Mitsui, M., Tempelaar, D., & Shah, C. (2017). The relationship of (perceived) epistemic cognition to interaction with resources on the internet. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 507-518. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.04.014

Knight, S., Wise, A. F., & Chen, B. (2017). Time for Change: Why Learning Analytics Needs Temporal Analysis. Journal of Learning Analytics, 4(3), 7–17. doi:10.18608/jla.2017.43.2

Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom's taxonomy: An overview. Theory into Practice, 41(4), 212-218. doi:10.1207/s15430421tip4104_2

Kuhn, D., & Weinstock, M. (2002). What Is Epistemological Thinking and Why Does It Matter? In B. K. Hofer, & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Personal Epistemology: The Psychology of Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing (pp. 121-144). Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Leal-Soto, F., & Ferrer-Urbina, R. (2017). Three-factor structure for Epistemic Belief Inventory: A cross-validation study. PLoS ONE, 12(3), 1-16. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0173295

Martin, E. (2005). Survey Questionnaire Construction. In K. Kempf-Leonard (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Social Measurement (pp. 723-732). New York: Elsevier. doi:10.1016/B0-12-369398-5/00433-3. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/

Miller, B., & Record, I. (2013). Justified belief in a digital age: On the epistemic implications of secret internet technologies. Episteme, 10(02), 117-134. doi:10.1017/epi.2013.11

Moschner, B., Gruber, H., & Studienstiftungsarbeitsgruppe EPI. (2005). Epistemologische Überzeugungen. Forschungsbericht Nr. 18. Regensburg: Universität Regensburg, Lehrstuhl für Lehr-Lern-Forschung. Retrieved from https://portal.uni-regensburg.de/48/

Muis, K. R. (2007). The Role of Epistemic Beliefs in Self-Regulated Learning. Educational Psychologist, 42(3), 173-190. doi:10.1080/00461520701416306

Muis, K. R., Bendixen, L. D., & Haerle, F. C. (2006). Domain-Generality and Domain-Specificity in Personal Epistemology Research: Philosophical and Empirical Reflections in the Development of a Theoretical Framework. Educational Psychology Review, 18(1), 3-54. doi:10.1007/s10648-006-9003-6

Nguyen, C. T. (2018). Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Episteme, (FirstView, Sept 13, 2018). doi:10.1017/epi.2018.32

Niessen, T., Vermunt, J., Abma, T., Widdershoven, G., & Van der Vleuten, C. (2004). On the nature and form of epistemologies: Revealing hidden assumptions through an analysis of instrument design. European Journal of School Psychology, 2(1-2), 39-64.

Osborne, J. W. (2014). Best Practices in Exploratory Factor Analysis. Retrieved from http://pareonline.net/

OSF. (2010). Use of information and communications technology. Official statistics Finland. Retrieved from http://www.stat.fi/til/sutivi/2010/sutivi_2010_2010-10-26_tie_001_en.html

OSF. (2011). Use of information and communications technology by individuals. Official statistics Finland. Retrieved from http://www.stat.fi/til/sutivi/2011/sutivi_2011_2011-11-02_tie_001_en.html

Otting, H., Zwaal, W., Tempelaar, D., & Gijselaers, W. (2010). The structural relationship between students' epistemological beliefs and conceptions of teaching and learning. Studies in Higher Education, 35(7), 741-760. doi:10.1080/03075070903383203

Palmer, B., & Marra, R. M. (2008). Individual Domain-Specific Epistemologies: Implications for Educational Practice. In M. S. Khine (Ed.), Knowing, Knowledge and Beliefs: Epistemological Studies across Diverse Cultures (pp. 325-350). Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6596-5_16

Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years: A scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Personal Data Act of 22.4.1999. Retrieved from http://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1999/19990523

Pieschl, S., Stallmann, F., & Bromme, R. (2014). High School Students' Adaptation of Task Definitions, Goals and Plans to Task Complexity - The Impact of Epistemic Beliefs. Psychological topics, 23(1), 31-52. doi:10.31820/pt

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. doi:10.1108/10748120110424816

Purcell, K., Brenner, J., & Rainie, L. (2012). Search Engine Use 2012. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/03/09/search-engine-use-2012/

Purcell, K., Rainie, L., Heaps, A., Buchanan, J., Friedrich, L., Jacklin, A., . . . Zickuhr, K. (2012). How Teens Do Research in the Digital World. Washington DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/11/01/how-teens-do-research-in-the-digital-world/

Säljö, R. (2012). Literacy, Digital Literacy and Epistemic Practices: The Co-Evolution of Hybrid Minds and External Memory Systems. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 7(1), 5-19. Retrieved from http://www.idunn.no/ts/dk/2012/01/art08

Sandoval, W. A. (2005). Understanding students' practical epistemologies and their influence on learning through inquiry. Science Education, 89(4), 634-656. doi:10.1002/sce.20065

Schommer, M. (1990). Effects of Beliefs About the Nature of Knowledge on Comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(3), 498-504. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.82.3.498

Schommer, M. (1993). Epistemological Development and Academic Performance Among Secondary Students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(3), 406-411. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.85.3.406

Schommer, M. (1998). The influence of age and education on epistemological beliefs. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 68(4), 551-562. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8279.1998.tb01311.x

Schommer-Aikins, M. (2004). Explaining the Epistemological Belief System: Introducing the Embedded Systemic Model and Coordinated Research Approach. Educational Psychologist, 39(1), 19-29. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep3901_3

Schraw, G. (2013). Conceptual Integration and Measurement of Epistemological and Ontological Beliefs in Educational Research. ISRN Education, vol. 2013, 1-19. doi:10.1155/2013/327680

Schraw, G., Bendixen, L., & Dunkle, M. E. (2002). Development and Validation of the Epistemic Belief Inventory (EBI). In B. K. Hofer, & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Personal Epistemology: The Psychology of Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing (pp. 261-275). Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Schreiber, J. B., Nora, A., Stage, F. K., Barlow, E. A., & King, J. (2006). Reporting Structural Equation Modeling and Confirmatory Factor Analysis Results: A review. The Journal of Educational Research, 99(6), 323-337. doi:10.3200/joer.99.6.323-338

Shaffer, D. W., & Clinton, K. A. (2006). Toolforthoughts: Reexamining Thinking in the Digital Age. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 13(4), 283-300. doi:10.1207/s15327884mca1304_2

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10.

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge, elearnspace. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/

Simpson, T. W. (2012). Evaluating Google as an Epistemic Tool. Metaphilosophy, 43(4), 426-445. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9973.2012.01759.x

Smart, P. R. (2012). The Web-Extended Mind. Metaphilosophy, 43(4), 446-463. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9973.2012.01756.x

Sparrow, B., Liu, J., & Wegner, D. M. (2011). Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips. Science, 333(6043), 776-778. doi:10.1126/science.1207745

SPSS. (2016a). Amos 24.0 [computer software]. Chicago, IL: SPSS Inc., IBM Corporation.

SPSS. (2016b). SPSS 24.0 [computer software]. Chicago, IL: SPSS Inc., IBM Corporation.

Ståhl, T. (2017). How ICT savvy are Digital Natives actually? Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 12(3), 89-108. doi:10.18261/ISSN.1891-943X-2017-03-04

Ståhl, T., & Mildén, P. (2017). Applying the FEE to explore epistemic beliefs among students. In A. Bernholt, H. Gruber & B. Moschner (Eds.), Wissen und Lernen. Wie epistemische Überzeugungen Schule, Universität und Arbeitswelt beeinflussen (pp. 59-97). Münster: Waxmann Verlag

Strømsø, H. I., & Bråten, I. (2010). The role of personal epistemology in the self-regulation of internet-based learning. Metacognition and Learning, 5(1), 91-111. doi:10.1007/s11409-009-9043-7

Tang, J. (2010). Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analysis of Epistemic Beliefs Questionnaire about Mathematics for Chinese Junior Middle School Students. Journal of Mathematics Education, 3(2), 89-105.

Tourangeau, R., Couper, M. P., & Conrad, F. (2004). Spacing, Position, and Order: Interpretive Heuristics for Visual Features of Survey Questions. Public Opinion Quarterly, 68(3), 368-393. doi:10.1093/poq/nfh035

Trautwein, U., & Lüdtke, O. (2007). Epistemological beliefs, school achievement, and college major: A large-scale longitudinal study on the impact of certainty beliefs. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32(3), 348-366. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2005.11.003

van den Beemt, A., Akkerman, S., & Simons, P. R. J. (2011). Patterns of interactive media use among contemporary youth. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), 103-118. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00384.x

Walker, S., Brownlee, J., Lennox, S., Exley, B., Howells, K., & Cocker, F. (2009). Understanding first year university students: personal epistemology and learning. Teaching Education, 20(3), 243-256. doi:10.1080/10476210802559350

Wood, P., & Kardash, C. (2002). Critical Elements in the Design and Analysis of Studies of Epistemology. In B. K. Hofer, & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Personal Epistemology: The Psychology of Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing (pp. 231-260). Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Zhang, L., & Watkins, D. (2001). Cognitive development and student approaches to learning: An investigation of Perry's theory with Chinese and U.S. university students. Higher Education, 41(3), 239-261. doi:10.1023/A:1004151226395