Disagreeing about how to know: The instructional value of explorations into knowing

Clark A. Chinn, Sarit Barzilai, Ravit Golan Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Events worldwide have heightened concerns that education is failing to prepare students for a “post-truth” world. A core “post-truth” challenge is the prevalence of deep epistemic disagreements: people fundamentally disagree about appropriate ways of knowing. We provide a new analysis of deep epistemic disagreements and propose an educational response based on the Apt-AIR framework of the goals of epistemic education. An apt response to deep epistemic disagreements requires that people develop individual and collective abilities to make epistemic assumptions visible, to justify and negotiate these assumptions, and to develop shared commitments to appropriate standards and processes of reasoning. To develop these meta-epistemic abilities, we propose a cluster of instructional practices and principles called explorations into knowing. We discuss empirical research showing that teachers and students can meaningfully engage in explorations into knowing and productively discuss their deep epistemic disagreements. These proposals lead to new research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-180
Number of pages14
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant [2016335] to Sarit Barzilai and Clark Chinn from the United States Binational Science Foundation (BSF), Jerusalem, Israel. This material is also based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. [9875485, 1008634, and 1760909]. We thank the four anonymous reviewers of this article and Editor Kathy Wentzel for their excellent comments and recommendations. We are also grateful to Na’ama Av-Shalom, Mikko Kainulainen, Danielle Murphy, and Randi Zimmerman for their very helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Division 15, American Psychological Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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