How do students’ beliefs about education studies affect their performance and study choices

Education Studies can be taught using a disciplinary approach (combining Philosophy, Psychology, History, Sociology). Within such a formulation students are challenged to balance and synthesize their understanding of these disciplines in their classes and assessments. In some course structures students are even required to choose one of the four disciplines they wish to study in more detail. Research argues that a number of personal factors influence academic performance and choices, not least the students’ epistemological beliefs; namely their beliefs about how knowledge works and where it can be found (Cano, 2005; Hofer, 2000; Schommer, 1993).
In O’Siochru (2015) I found that the level of match between a student’s personal epistemological beliefs and the epistemological beliefs presented in their classes / assignments predicted their academic performance such that a closer match was a reliable predictor of higher performance. However, this study focused only on those courses in which there was a single discipline for the students to master.
In this presentation I will explore my initial findings from a new study which examined how the combination of disciplines within an Education Studies course might affect this relationship between student beliefs and performance. I aim to establish if students have distinct epistemological beliefs for each discipline. I also seek to explore the relationship between the students’ epistemological match in each discipline and their academic performance. One question I hope to answer is whether their beliefs in each discipline are equally important in relation to their academic performance. Long term, I want to know if these disciplinary epistemological beliefs will influence their study choices over the course of their degree.