Undergraduate science students' scientist–practitioner gap: The role of epistemic curiosity and cognitive flexibility

Jon-Chao HONG, Ming-Yueh HWANG, Sing Ying Elson SZETO, Kai-Hsin TAI, Chi-Ruei TSAI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

The scientist–practitioner gap refers to the phenomenon of individuals with a scientific background exhibiting non-scientific beliefs. Informed by the social-cognitive process model, this study aimed to develop a more coherent understanding of how such non-scientific beliefs can be predicted by individuals' cognitive flexibility mediated by their epistemic curiosity. A questionnaire was administered to 332 undergraduate students majoring in science at 2 universities in Taiwan. It included items on cognitive flexibility, 2 types of epistemic curiosity, and non-scientific beliefs. After the reliability and validity of the items and constructs were validated, structural equation modeling was applied to verify the research model. Results indicated that the 2 types of epistemic curiosity, interest-type and deprivation-type, were positively predicted by cognitive flexibility but were negatively reflected in the students' non-scientific beliefs. The study also tested the gender difference for each factor and found that female students majoring in science tended to have stronger non-scientific beliefs than their male counterparts. The results imply that if a higher level of cognitive flexibility is attained, the scientist–practitioner gap may be reduced. Copyright © 2020 Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Early online dateMay 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - May 2020

Citation

Hong, J.-C., Hwang, M.-Y., Szeto, E., Tai, K.-H., & Tsai, C.-R. (2020). Undergraduate science students' scientist–practitioner gap: The role of epistemic curiosity and cognitive flexibility. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10763-020-10096-4

Keywords

  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Epistemic curiosity
  • Non-scientific beliefs
  • Scientist– practitioner gap

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