Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ed Psychology and Research


Educational Research

Committee Chair

Yonghong Jade Xu

Committee Member

Ernest A. Rakow

Committee Member

Corinna A. Ethington

Committee Member

Denise Winsor


Beliefs about knowledge and knowing, or epistemic and ontological cognition, are associated with many aspects of learning and achievement; however, little research has been done to examine the epistemic and ontological cognition of occupational therapy (OT) students. The purpose of this study is to bridge some of the gaps in the literature by:1) describing similarities and differences between entering and post-didactic students' beliefs about knowledge and knowing, 2) examining domain-general and OT-specific epistemic and ontological cognition of OTstudents and the relationship between the two, and 3) determining whether there are changes in domain-general epistemological beliefs over the course of the didactic portion of an OTprogram. Fifty-four OTstudents, 21 incoming and 33 post-didactic, completed two quantitative instruments, the Epistemological Beliefs Inventory (EBI) and the modified Four-Quadrant Scale (mFQS), and two qualitative instruments, explanations of self-ratings on the mFQS and responses to four qualitative open-ended questions. The 33 post-didactic students also completed the EBI at the beginning, middle, and end of the didactic coursework. The results indicated statistically significant differences between the domain-specific ontological cognition of entering and post-didactic students, with more sophisticated stances being held by the post-didactic students. The entering students demonstrated dogmatist and skeptic perspectives, with minimal evidence of arationalist view of knowledge. Among the post-didactic students, there was evidence of primarily skeptic stances, with the emergence of rationalist views. There was little correlation between students' scores on the domain-general EBIand the domain-specific mFQS. Considering the cross-sectional data, these students' domain-general epistemic and ontological cognition was fairly stable, while their domain-specific ontological cognition was more changeable. On the other hand, the longitudinal findings indicated change in domain-general epistemic cognition over the course of the didactic portion of the OT program, with students demonstrating statistically significantly weaker beliefs in justification by an omniscient authority by the end of the didactic portion of the program. While causal inferences cannot be made based on the findings of this study, it is possible that intensive study in the discipline of OTcontributed to change in these students' general epistemic cognition.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.