chapter  15
Epistemic Cognition and Reading for Understanding in the Internet Age
Pages 17

Traditionally, epistemology has been the business of philosophers, but during the last few decades people’s personal epistemology has attracted increasing attention within the field of educational psychology. Research on personal epistemology concerns laypersons’ cognitions related to knowledge and knowing (i.e. the epistemic) rather than trained philosophers’ theories about such issues (Hofer & Bendixen, 2012). Reading could itself be considered a way of knowing (Cunningham & Fitzgerald, 1996), and texts are certainly important sources of knowledge. Readers do not always search for texts with the objective of acquiring new knowledge, for example when reading a crime novel, but texts have been central sources of knowledge in educational settings for centuries (Resnick & Resnick, 1977). In the twenty-first century the amount of information available in printed and digital media is constantly increasing. Along with this increasing quantity of information sources, the number of ways readers can access informational texts (e.g. via search engines), and the different formats in which texts are presented, such as hypermedia, Internet pages, or e-books, have increased as well (Alexander, 2012). Moreover, because anyone can publish almost any information on the Internet, information sources can vary considerably in their quality. This heterogeneity of information sources may also represent a challenge to readers, as more responsibility for evaluating those sources is transferred from publishers to readers. Hence, the role of epistemic cognition in reading may be even more evident in the digital age than when printed texts reviewed by professional gatekeepers were the primary knowledge sources (Spiro, Feltovich, & Coulson, 1996).