Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Author

Eli Casteel

Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Scott Moeschberger

Second Advisor

Scott Gaier

Third Advisor

Todd Ream

Abstract

Today, the United States is polarized; people cannot agree on facts or how they know their facts. This study was aimed at researching how people know and the development of an epistemic lens, that is, how they know what they know. Literature suggests many undergraduates understand the world as either black and white or relativistic (King & Kitchener, 1994). However, through educational experiences some students move beyond relativistic thinking. The purpose of this study was to explore and understand the significance of an undergraduate course on ways of knowing. The study investigated the experience of undergraduates and how a course on epistemology affected their own epistemic lens. The study implemented a phenomenological design to capture the shared learning experience. Therefore, the following question guided the study: How does an undergraduate course on ways of knowing affect a student’s epistemic lens? Notable findings from the study include the importance of diversity of thought in class discussions, a strengthening of worldviews, and an increased value on uncertainty. Implications for the study are an increase in exposure to diverse thoughts and experiences, an increase in self-awareness and understanding of others, and a cultivation of critically engaged individuals.

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