Epistemological beliefs in child care: Implications for vocational education

Brownlee, Joanne M., Berthelsen, Donna C., & Boulton-Lewis, Gillian M. (2008) Epistemological beliefs in child care: Implications for vocational education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(3), pp. 457-471.

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Background. The quality of child care is of social and economic significance worldwide. The beliefs that child care workers hold about knowing and knowledge (epistemological beliefs) influence the quality of their professional work. However, attention to epistemological beliefs is rarely a focus in vocational education programmes. Aim. The aim of this study was to investigate the nature of child care students’ epistemological beliefs. Sample(s). All first- and second-year students completing a Diploma of Children’s Services at three separate training institutes in a large metropolitan area in Australia were invited to participate in the study. There were 46 first- and 31 second-year students (77 in total, 71 females). Method. This study used semi-structured interviews based on a child care scenario to enable students to articulate their epistemological beliefs. A descriptive-interpretative approach in which interviews were analysed for patterns of meaning was used in the content analysis. The categories, based on the work of Kuhn and Weinstock (2002), included objectivism, subjectivism, and evaluativism. While this proved to be a useful framework, the authors remained open to new categories emerging. This constituted the interpretive component of the analysis. Therefore, the data were analysed using both data-driven and theory-led approaches to analysis, which still made it possible to take account of many viewpoints before arriving at the categories of beliefs. The categories were audited by a second researcher to establish trustworthiness and credibility. Results. The findings of this study revealed a range of epistemological beliefs; however, a new way of thinking about evaluativistic beliefs called 'basic evaluativism' emerged. This view of knowledge relates to the construction of evidence-based practice rather than knowledge as is typically the case in evaluativistic beliefs. Conclusions. Implications for the need to address epistemological beliefs in vocational education programmes for child care workers are discussed.

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ID Code: 14141
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal's website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Keywords: personal epistemology, vocational education, child care, HERN
DOI: 10.1348/000709907X262503
ISSN: 0007-0998
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 British Psychological Society
Deposited On: 25 Jul 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2015 00:30

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