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Epistemic Beliefs and Use of Comprehension Strategies by Indian and U.S. Engineering Undergraduates

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

They're Not "Soft" Skills!

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.636.1 - 22.636.14



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Paper Authors


Roman Taraban Texas Tech University

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Roman Taraban is Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Psychology at Texas Tech University, Assessment Coordinator for the Texas Tech University Howard Hughes Medical Institute (TTU/HHMI) Biological Sciences Education Program, Member of the Texas Tech Teaching Academy Executive Council, past President of the Society for Computers in Psychology (SCiP), and Associate Editor for the Journal of Educational Psychology. He received his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. His interests are in how undergraduate students learn, and especially, how they draw meaningful connections in traditional college content materials (e.g., textbooks, lectures, multi-media). Address: Department of Psychology, Mail Stop 2051, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, 79409; telephone: 806-742-3711 ext. 247; fax: 806-742-0818; email:

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Kristin E. Oliver Texas Tech University

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Differences in U.S. and Indian Engineering Undergraduates’ Epistemic Beliefs and Use of Comprehension StrategiesIt is generally accepted that engineering students must learn to actively process information andcritically evaluate written and electronic sources of information in order to achieve professionalskill levels. This study applied two scales in the research literature to a random sample offreshman through senior engineering students at an Indian Institute of Technology. One scalemeasured use of reading strategies to improve comprehension and remember information. Theother scale measured beliefs about the goals of reading and kinds of knowledge that can begained from text (epistemic beliefs). Additional questions concerned school-related academicand reading activities and were used to interpret the scale scores in the context of the engineeringcurriculum. These scales had previously been used with U.S. students. Therefore, a confirmatoryfactor analysis was carried out to establish the validity of these scales to the Indian sample.Using existing data from U.S. engineering students, several critical comparisons were carriedout: i) differences in Indian and U.S. students’ use of reading strategies, ii) differences in U.S.and Indian students epistemic beliefs, iii) growth in the use of comprehension strategies fromfreshman to senior years, and iv) growth in analytic and critical thinking from freshman to senioryears. Additional data about texts that students read were used, in part, to account for differencesbetween the U.S. and Indian samples. The findings showed more frequent use of comprehensionstrategies by the Indian students, and higher levels of critical thinking about text, compared tothe U.S. students. There was minimal development of reading strategy use or development ofepistemic beliefs, from freshman to senior years, for both samples. The findings are discussed interms of language and cultural differences. Implications for curriculum change are alsoconsidered.

Taraban, R., & Oliver, K. E. (2011, June), Epistemic Beliefs and Use of Comprehension Strategies by Indian and U.S. Engineering Undergraduates Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17917

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