Students thinking, students writing : exploring undergraduates' epsitemological beliefs and rhetorical writing
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The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of undergraduates’ metacognitive beliefs about writing and knowledge, ways that those beliefs may change during the semester, and the relationship of beliefs to their persuasive writing. Scales assessing epistemological and writing beliefs were given to students in lower-division rhetoric and writing courses (N=241). Generally, students experienced significant changes in their beliefs about knowledge, learning, and writing across the semester, as assessed by the Epistemological Beliefs Questionnaire (Schommer, 1993) and writing beliefs scales (White & Bruning, 2002). Thus, students at the end of the semester reported beliefs that learning was a slow process and that knowledge was contingent. Although regressions predicting quality of students’ persuasive writing from the belief scales were not significant, qualitative analyses revealed interesting trends in papers from students with different epistemological stances and beliefs about writing, particularly with regard to their use of sources.