chapter  24
Methodological Considerations for the Study of Epistemic Cognition in Practice
Pages 16

Theoretical developments in epistemic cognition have called for greater and more effective use of philosophical perspectives (Greene, Azevedo, & Torney-Purta, 2008; Murphy, 2003). Recent research has examined the multiple ways that research in philosophy can inform epistemic cognition. For example, Chinn et al. (2011) developed a five-component, philosophically grounded framework to inform research on epistemic cognition. In this chapter, I provide methodological procedures emanating from a sociocultural perspective on knowing and learning. I consider ways that philosophy and the empirical study of epistemological issues, such as studies of epistemic cultures producing knowledge (e.g. Knorr-Cetina, 1999), can help conceptualize epistemic cognition as practice and contribute to robust views about how epistemology relates to learning. I draw primarily from social epistemology with a focus on scientific knowledge (Longino, 2002) for examples of how to develop methodological implications of disciplinary and situated perspectives on epistemic cognition. This social view of knowing and learning coalesces well with sociocultural psychology. In particular, the focus of this chapter will be on how to research epistemic cognition situated in social practices. I draw from sociohistorical psychology and situated cognition to illustrate the ways that meaning is learned through participation in activity (Hutchins, 1995; Kozulin, 2003; Vygotsky, 1978). The prominent role of discourse and practice as mediators for learning is illustrated with examples from professional practice and science education settings (Kelly, 2014a). The methodology I propose offers a potential contribution to the study of epistemic cognition by considering the ways that epistemic practices are constructed through interaction (Kelly, 2008, 2011; Ostman & Wickman, 2014). Illustrative examples from engineering education are provided. I propose a reflexive turn posing questions about what counts as knowledge for the study of epistemic and ontological cognition. The chapter concludes by considering ways that different, complementary views of epistemic cognition can contribute to fruitful research directions.