The timing and critical incident of epistemic beliefs change in Hong Kong college students: An exploratory study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research on epistemic beliefs (beliefs about what knowledge is and what knowing is) has advanced and there is now a burgeoning interest in examining this construct in the Chinese cultural context. However, issues related to understanding epistemic beliefs change remain under-explored. The present study used a qualitative approach to explore Chinese college students' timing and critical incidents of epistemic beliefs change. Eight college students from Hong Kong participated in interviews and three key themes emerged from their responses. First, students identified college transition as a major source of epistemic perturbation. Second, they attributed epistemic beliefs change mostly to educational encounters. These encounters were characterized by a curriculum with multiple perspectives, being taught by teachers who could provide cognitive scaffolding for epistemic belief resolution, and assessment processes that allowed the latitude to demonstrate multiple perspectives. Furthermore, these characteristics of assessment (mainly regarding examinations) also emerged as a strand of culturally nuanced findings. Students explicitly regarded assessment influencing their epistemic beliefs and described how they differentiated their incongruent "professed" and "practised" epistemic beliefs so as to fit the rules of the public examination. The findings have yielded cultural implications and suggest the need to understand epistemic beliefs transcending the naive-sophisticated dichotomy. Copyright © 2018 National Institute of Education, Singapore.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-174
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Education
Issue number2
Early online dateMay 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Hong Kong


Lee, W. W. S. (2018). The timing and critical incident of epistemic beliefs change in Hong Kong college students: An exploratory study. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 38(2), 164-174. doi: 10.1080/02188791.2018.1460251


  • Epistemic beliefs change
  • Chinese
  • Critical incidents and cognitive interviewing technique