The development of epistemic relativism versus social relativism via online peer assessment, and their relations with epistemological beliefs and internet self-efficacy

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Online peer assessment has been advocated by numerous contemporary educators. This study interviewed forty students who had experienced an online peer assessment activity for learning. Each of these students was asked to complete a research proposal in an educational method course for peer assessment. Using the online peer assessment system, the students, who performed the roles of both authors and reviewers, submitted their proposals, reviewed their peers' work and obtained peers' comments. Based on the interview data, sixty percent of the students could gradually develop views of "epistemic relativism" and "social relativism" through the online peer assessment activity. "Epistemic relativism" refers to recognition of the diversity of knowledge perspectives involved in a research issue, while "social relativism" indicates an understanding of the multiplicity of peer perspectives. These two views, which are perceived as positive impacts of online peer assessment, have rarely been documented in the relevant literature. This study further found that students' epistemological beliefs were related to their views of "epistemic relativism," while their Internet self-efficacy was associated with their views of "social relativism." More sophisticated epistemological beliefs and higher Internet self-efficacy can likely facilitate the development of views regarding "epistemic relativism" and "social relativism".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalEducational Technology and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec 31
Externally publishedYes



  • Epistemological beliefs
  • Internet self-efficacy
  • Online peer assessment
  • Relativist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Engineering(all)

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