Relationships between student scientific epistemological beliefs and perceptions of constructivist learning environments

Chin Chung Tsai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)


This study was conducted to explore the interplay between students' scientific epistemological beliefs and their perceptions of constructivist learning environments. Through analysing 1,176 Taiwanese tenth-graders' (16-year-olds) questionnaire responses, this study found that students tended to perceive that actual learning environments were less constructivist orientated than what they preferred. Students having epistemological beliefs more orientated to constructivist views of science (as opposed to empiricist views about science) tended to have a view that actual learning environments did not provide sufficient opportunities for social negotiations (p < 0.01) and prior knowledge integration (p < 0.01); and moreover, they show significantly stronger preferences to learn in the constructivist learning environments where they could (1) interact and negotiate meanings with others (p < 0.001), (2) integrate their prior knowledge and experiences with newly constructed knowledge (p < 0.001) and (3) meaningfully control their learning activities (p < 0.001). The main thrust of the findings drawn from this study indicates that teachers need to be very aware of students' epistemological orientation towards scientific knowledge, and to complement these preferences when designing learning experiences, especially to provide constructivist-based lessons to enhance science learning for students who are epistemologically constructivist orientated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-205
Number of pages13
JournalEducational Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Constructivism
  • Learning environments
  • Science education
  • Scientific epistemological beliefs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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