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University professor epistemic authority as one of student development coordinates

Автор Доклада: 
Blumberga S.
Награда: 
University professor epistemic authority as one of student development coordinates

University professor epistemic authority as one of student development coordinates

Blumberga Solveiga, Phd student
Daugavpils University

This article is about the University professor epistemic authority as one of important student development coordinates. Article substantiates the importance of university professor authority research in student professional socialization. Epistemological view on authority and epistemic authority significance in student knowledge formulation is explained. Latvia’s Riga Universities conducted empiric research data on universities professor epistemic authority are analyzed. 307 students participated in the research: 101 social, 101 humanitarian and 105 exact science area students. Epistemic Authority Scale, Reliance Question, Reasoning Questionnaire was used for data retrieval. Results showed that professor authority has larger importance in student professional socialization cognitive and cognitive emotional aspects. Differences between three area student views on professor epistemic authority were observed only in some cases. It was discovered that whether students acknowledge professor as authority or not affects reliance on information provided by the professor. However overall reliance level is medium low, which proposes need to further research such situation causes.
Keywords: epistemological belief, epistemic authority, students, study areas, professors.

Introduction

University professor epistemic authority is one of important student development coordinates.  Knowledge constructive sociology researchers (Miettinen, Virkkunen, 2005) view that in today’s knowledge society, epistemic object and cognitive object (that is, also social question) construction becomes even more significant. Epistemology research focus is human development and authority significance in this process (Ricco, Schuyten, Pierce, Medinilla, 2010).

Research addresses practical epistemic (Muntigl, Choi, 2010) or social epistemology (Gardner, 2007) in relation to knowledge acquisition, transfer, acceptance (Heritage, Raymond, 2005). Since study process usefulness is determined by attitude towards information (knowledge, skills) providers, epistemic authority questions in academic environment (Asmuß, Svennevig, 2009; Guimond, 2001) become more and more important.

Research Topicality

Epistemic authority is becoming one of human’s, especially student’s professional socialization coordinates (Kruglanski, Raviv, Bar – Tal, Raviv, et. al., 2005). Professor’s epistemic authority in this context is related with constructive social dominance (Pratto & Espinoza, 2001) and personality development encouraging social power (Van Dijke, Poppe, 2006, Chiang, 2009). Epistemic authority in Latvia, its influence in academic environment is not researched, that highlights this research topicality.

Therefore following research thesis was proposed: determine social, humanitarian and exact science student views on professor epistemic authority, professor reliance epistemic authority reason level corresponding to professor’s authority acknowledgement.

Methodology

Research conceptual basis is idea, that epistemic authority signifies information source, that has determinative effect on knowledge formation and which acknowledgement is related with epistemic authority reliance (Kruglanski, 1989; Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Raviv A., Brosh M., 1991); Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Raviv A., 1991);. Raviv A., Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Biran B., Sela Z., 2003; Kruglanski, Raviv, Bar – Tal, Raviv, et. al., 2005). Multidimensional epistemological value conception (Schommer - Aikins, 2004)  is used as research basis. It is also used in student epistemological view research (Ordonez, Ponsoda, Abad, Romero, 2009).

Multiple significant researches have been done in Europe researching professor influence on the student competence development. Such influence can be explained based on epistemic influence conception – how student is affected by professor as source of information (Mugny, Chatard, Quiamzade, 2006; Qiuamzade, Mugny, Chatard, 2009).

Student perceived professor epistemic authority, professor authority recognition in accordance to epistemic authority reliance reasons and authority recognition influence on epistemic authority reliance was measured, comparing results in student groups corresponding to study areas. Epistemic authority questionnaire and epistemic authority reliance reasons questionnaire (Raviv, Bar-Tal, Raviv, Peleg, 1990; Raviv A., Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Abin R., 1993) were used.

Epistemic authority questionnaire Cronbach's Alpha credibility indicator was .810; trust to epistemic authority proof questionnaire Cronbach's Alpha credibility indicator was 0.817, which are good credibility indicators and are similar to previously conducted research creditability indicators (Raviv et al., 1993).

Research participants. 307 students from Riga universities participated in the research. Three student groups correspondingly to study areas were intentionally created using questionnaire electronic version, face – to – face meetings with students. 101student participated from social study area, 101 from humanitarian and 105 from exact sciences area.

Results.Kruskal-Wallis Test was used to determine whether professor epistemic authority differences exist between three study area groups (humanitarian, social and exact). Obtained results showed that only in scale “readiness to change opinion” (p=.014) there were statistically significant differences between three student groups. Rather close indicator to statistically significant range indicator p= .05 (p= .077) is in scale “Knowledge level”. In three other scales – “Knowledge trust”, “Readiness to change behavior” and “Average total” – statistically significant differences were not observed.

Descriptive statistics results (see table) showed, that following tendency can be observed: cognitive aspect has higher results, which can be interpreted as medium high (maximal possible M=6.0) – authority knowledge level evaluation, slightly lower – cognitive emotional that is, trust in knowledge.

Group

Statistical indicators

The degree of knowledge which the subjects attribute to the source

The degree to which the subjects trust the source’s knowledge

The degree to which the subjects are willing to change their opinions

The degree to which the subjects are willing to change their behaviour

Average total

Epistemic authority

Students

(number 307)

Mean

 

4.7831

4.1700

3.9870

2.9194

4.0238

Standart

deviation

.91507

.96576

1.04363

.73140

.71570

Students

Social area

(number 101)

Mean

4.7129

4.2238

3.8020

2.8861

3.9785

Standart

deviation

.90572

1.00211

1.02217

.77824

.73020

Students Humanitarian area

(number 101)

Mean

4.9327

4.1683

4.2079

3.0248

4.1310

Standart

deviation

.90787

.96031

1.02832

.70045

.71957

Students

Exact area

(number 105)

Mean

4.7067

4.1200

3.9524

2.8500

3.9641

Standart

deviation

.92198

.94160

1.04945

.70931

.69268

Table 1. Mean and standart deviation of the Epistemic authority scores

Comparably lower are results that show readiness to change opinion, except humanitarian area student group. Readiness to change opinion in this group is comparably equal to trust in professor knowledge, which also determines higher, as compared to other student groups, readiness to change behavior. However following tendency can be observed: student readiness to change behavior by perceiving professor as epistemic authority is lower, as compared to other authority evaluation components. Such results are similar to other research results (Raviv et al., 1993).

During analysis of student reliance on epistemic authority student opinions were determined first, whether they consider professor as authority in correspondence to professor reliance reasons. Results showed that in all area student groups there was a tendency to recognize professor as an authority correspondingly to whether he/she has opinions that students accept (so thought 291 out of 307 students), professor is an expert in his knowledge and experience area (287 out of 307), professor is objective (255 out of 307).

This tendency in authority recognition was less observed in the following reliance reason assessment: personal contacts (so thought 51 out of 307 students), influence recognition transfer from others (54 out of 307), association – professor reminds someone else, to whom the student trusts (88 out of 307).    

Spearman’s rank correlation analysis results showed that in 99 out of 144 cases there are statistically significant relations between student professor recognition as authority and degree of reliance on the professor.

After analyzing degree at which professor authority recognition influences student decision to rely on or not to rely on professor provided information (knowledge), it was concluded that reliance is medium low. Average arithmetic in reliance reason assessment was within a range of M=1,56 (I know him (don’t) personally) to M= 2,76 (He is (not) an expert: well educated or experienced), creating overall questionnaire average result M=2,19 (maximum possible would be M=6,0). Following influence assessments were higher: he/she is (not) objective; he/she has (doesn’t) opinions, which I accept; he/she possesses (doesn’t) characteristics that I find important. Low level of influence recognition was observable in the following influence assessments: influence recognition transfer – professor influences (doesn’t), because he has influenced someone else, to whom student trusts; association – professor reminds someone, to whom student trusts.

Thus professor authority influence is more related with cognitive and cognitively emotional aspects. Spearman rank correlation analysis, in which statistically significant relations where identified between all four epistemic authority components, also shows it: professor knowledge level, trust in professor knowledge, student readiness to change opinion, student readiness to change behavior and reliance argumentation reason – professor expertise, expert role; professor student need understanding; professor and student similar thinking; student felt professor trust level.

In the three students groups (social, humanitarian and exact) statistically significant differences in the reliance questionnaire results were observed in objectivity influence assessment (p= .046) – humanitarian area students admitted larger objectivity influence. Significant differences could also be observed in professor interest in student welfare as reliance reason evaluation (p=0.005) – exact science students considered this influence as less important. Also differences were significant in influence reason “I feel (don’t feel), that I can trust him/her” evaluation (p=.015). Humanitarian area students considered this influence as significant.

Conclusions

University students evaluate professor epistemic authority as medium high; comparably it is higher in its cognitive aspect – authority knowledge level acknowledgement and cognitive emotional – that is, trust in knowledge. Lower epistemic authority in student’s evaluation is in cognitive behavior aspect – readiness to change opinion and behavior in the influence of professor authority. Such results are also similar to research conducted in other countries. Hence professor authority has larger significance in student professional socialization cognitive aspects.

Differences were observed in professor epistemic authority and epistemic authority reliability evaluation correspondingly to student study areas: comparably higher professor knowledge level was perceived by humanitarian students, which also determines their larger extent to change their opinion under the authority influence. Professor objectivity and reliance was more significant for humanitarian students. Professor interest in student welfare was less important for exact science students.

Main reasons that determine whether students acknowledge professor as epistemic authorities are professor opinions that students accept; professor ability to be expert – knowing and experienced in his professional area and professor objectiveness. Reliance argumentation reasons: professor expertise; professor’s level of student need understanding; common thinking of professor and student; student’s trust in professor is significantly related with perceived professor epistemic authority.

Whether professor is recognized or not as authority affects reliability of professor’s provided information, however overall reliability level is medium low, which proposes further need to investigate such situation causes in more detail.

References:

1.        Asmuß B., Svennevig J. (2009). Meeting Talk: An Introduction, Journal of Business Communication, v46, p3 – 22.

2.        Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Raviv A. (1991). The concept of epistemic authority in the process of political knowledge acquisition: the effect of similarity., Representative Research in Social Psychology, v19, p107 – 120.

3.        Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Raviv A. & Brosh M. (1991). Perception of epistemic authority and attribution for its choice as a function of knowledge area and age, European Journal of Social Psychology, v21, p477 - 492.

4. Chiang S –Y. (2009). Personal power and positional power in a power-full ‘I’: a discourse analysis of doctoral dissertation supervision, Discourse & Communication, v3, n3, p255 -271.

5. Guimond S. (2001). Epistemic authorities in higher education: The relative influence of peers, faculty and courses on attitude formation and change. In F. Butera & G. Mugny (Eds.), Social influence in social reality,p211-223). Seattle: Hogrefe & Huber.

6. HeritageJ. and Raymond G.(2005). The Terms of Agreement: Indexing EpistemicAuthorityand Subordination in Talk-in-Interaction, Social Psychology Quarterly, v68, n1, p15 - 38.

7. Jacobson N. (2007). Social Epistemology : Theory for the ''Fourth Wave'' of Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Research, Science Communication, v29, p116 – 127.

8. Kruglanski A. W. (1989). Lay epistemics and human knowledge: Cognitive and motivational bases. New York, NY: Plenum.

9. Kruglanski A. W., Raviv A., Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Sharvit K., Ellis S., Bar R., Pierro A., & Mannetti, L. (2005). Says who?: Epistemic authority effects in social judgment. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, v37, p346-392. San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press.

10. Miettinen R., Virkkunen J. (2005). Epistemic Objects, Artefacts and Organizational Change, Organization, v12, p437 – 456.

11. Mugny G., Chatard A., Quiamzade A.(2006). The Social Transmission of Knowledge at the University: Teaching Style and Epistemic Dependence, European Journal of Psychology of Education, v21, n4, p413 – 427.

12. Muntigl P., Choi, T. (2010). Not remembering as a practical epistemic resource in couples therapy, Discourse Studies, v12, n3, p331–356.

13. Ordonez G. X., Ponsoda V., Abad J. F. and Romero J. S. (2009). Measurement of Epistemological Beliefs : Psychometric Properties of the EQEBI Test Scores, Educational and Psychological Measurement, v69, p287 – 302.

14. Quiamzade A., Mugny G., Chatard A.(2009). When teaching style matches students' epistemic (in)dependence: The moderating effect of perceived epistemic gap, European Journal of Psychology of Education, vXXIV, n3, p361-371.

15. Pratto F., Espinoza P. (2001). Gender, race, and power. Journal of Social Issues, v57, p763–780.

16. Raviv A., Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Abin R. (1993). Measuring epistemic authority: studies of politicians and professors, European Journal of Personality, v7, p119 – 138.

17. Raviv A., Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Biran B., Sela Z. (2003) Teachers’ Epistemic Authorities: Perceptions of Students and Teachers, Social Psychology of Education, v6 (1), p17 – 42.

18. Raviv A., Bar-Tal D., Raviv A., Peleg D. (1990). Perception of epistemic authorities by children and adolescents. Journal of Youth and adolescents, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, v19, p495 – 510.

19. Ricco R., Pierce S., Medinilla C. (2010) Epistemic Beliefs and Achievement Motivation in Early Adolescence, The Journal of Early Adolescence, v30, n2, p305 – 340.

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21. Van Dijke M., Poppe M. (2006). Striving for personal power as a basis for social power dynamics, European Journal of Social Psychology, v36, n4, p537 – 556.

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Reading this article the philosophers have reminded...

The German Professor, Doctor of Philosophy and Medicine, the dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Wurzburg Johann Bartholomeus Adam Beringer loved walks on neighboring hills and on coast of the Main River. At sole abrupt breakages among fragments of limestone it found surprising stones. On them images of fishes, birds, snails, stars, comets and even letters have been cut out. From each walk Beringer brought some wonderful stones, on each of which the whole world has been represented. The professor did not doubt of an antiquity of these images. Terrestrial firmament it has been created before the God has created the person, argued Beringer. Means, these are creations of the God. Surprising finds certainly draft copies, preparations in which the Creator has not inhaled a life. There are plans of the Creator in the hands of Bartholomeus. It is necessary to tell about opening to students, it will strengthen their belief and the authority of the professor will lift, and it drives them in secret places of the finds. Search, careless my children and students find new surprising, stones and bring to the professor. Already decent collection — nearby 2 thousand magnificent samples has gathered. Now “For the book: The artist engraves images, Beringer writes the text. And here in 1726 the book which intended to glorify the Creator and to glorify the author, is printed in Wurzburg printing houses, bound, and some copies in the urgent order are dispatched in other universities of the Europe. The happy author again goes in the favorite places and finds one more, appeared the last, a stone. On it on-Latin it is written — «Beringer is fool». Or, under its theory, is one of the desires of the Creator, carried out, or... About! These students... Means, all the stones found earlier — their tricks... Scandal, scandal! The Remained circulation of the book is burnt, colleagues on university allocate eyes and the pupils are expelled. In 230 years the second edition of the book of trustful Beringer has left in the Californian publishing house under aegis of universities of Berkeley and Los Angeles (USA), in English translation from one of the rare kept copies. Cheerful Wurzburg students all have glorified the professor. Its book was of use with ostensibly ancient images kind service to a science of paleontology. This funny case was, undoubtedly, is widely known for scientists of that time. And already nobody risked, being afraid of a dirty trick to express fossils as about display of creative force.
Irma Bagrationi
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