We engaged 47 eighth-grade students in a newly developed learning environment that integrates mobile augmented reality (AR) technology to support students’ learning of nuclear energy use and radiation pollution, a topic related to a socioscientific issue (SSI) that involves complex reasoning considering scientific evidence and multiple perspectives. We employ the partial least squares structural equation modeling to investigate how the students’ context-specific epistemic justification and prior knowledge contributed to their engagement in the learning environment and socioscientific reasoning (SSR) performance after the learning. Data collected include students’ responses to the knowledge pretest that assessed students’ prior knowledge related to the SSI, the pretest survey that measured students’ context-specific epistemic justifications, the Cognitive and Emotional Engagement Survey (CEES) right after the end of the AR activities that measured students’ self-reported cognitive and emotional engagement, and the posttest that measured students’ socioscientific reasoning performance. The results indicate that students’ context-specific epistemic justifications can predict their engagement in the environment, and that prior knowledge and belief in justification by authority can predict students’ SSR performance, but in different directions. The results provide insights into how to support students with different personal characteristics to learn with AR technology about SSI, and contribute to a model of personal epistemology within the environment of integrating AR technology for the learning of SSI.
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