The Use of Epistemic Tools to Facilitate Epistemic Cognition & Metacognition in Developing Scientific Explanation
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Current research in science education and the cognitive sciences has highlighted the importance of epistemic tools in scaffolding learners to think in ways consistent with scientific practices. However, recent studies on epistemic tool have mainly focused on epistemic cognition, but not epistemic metacognition. Epistemic metacognition, which operates at a meta-level targeted at our own thought processes concerning the source, nature, and justification of knowledge, is a crucial component that promotes and regulates epistemic development. The aim of this paper is to illuminate how an epistemic tool mediates and supports epistemic cognition and epistemic metacognition, and the difference between them. Drawing data from a design research study that introduced a specific epistemic tool called PRO (premise-reasoning-outcome) to describe the structure of a scientific explanation, this paper illustrates how PRO was used to facilitate the development of both epistemic cognition and epistemic metacognition. Specifically, epistemic metacognition was developed by using PRO with multiple metacognitive instructional approaches to: (a) highlight the epistemic connections between the various components of an explanation, (b) prompt questions that regulate one’s own thought processes, and (c) organize navigational markers that regulate key ideas linking the causality of an explanation. The findings from this study provide insights and evidence for a crucial theoretical link that is currently missing in our understanding of epistemic tools, epistemic cognition, and epistemic metacognition.
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