Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Roth, Gene L.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


College seniors--Case studies; Knowledge; Theory of--Case studies


People's assumptions about knowledge, their personal epistemologies, have important effects on their expectations and behavior in educational settings. The research presented in this paper is a case study examining the complex interaction of students' personal epistemologies and their behavior in the Network and Communications Management senior project class at a technical, career-oriented university. Through the use of observation, interview, survey, and document analysis, this class is described and analyzed, using the three major theoretical frameworks of personal epistemology: qualitative developmental stages, quantitative belief systems, and practitioner epistemological resources. In the context of the senior project, the students displayed sophisticated epistemological assumptions about the sources and forms of knowledge and the activities and stances necessary for resolving the problems presented by their clients. These skills are valued by the instructor, the administrators of the program and the future employers of the students. However, the finding of this level of epistemological development runs counter to the research base in both the developmental stage and belief system frameworks. Outside of the specific environment of the senior project, the students' assumptions about knowledge appear to conform to the expected range shown in the literature. The framework of epistemological resources is a more useful perspective to explain the results of this case study. Complex interactions among students' ages, educational levels, and work experiences; the projects' use of teamwork and outside clients; and the instructor's support and coaching to activate appropriate resources have produced an epistemological stance which results in competent problem-solving skills in this specific context.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [225]-232).


vi, 250 pages




Northern Illinois University

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