Background to the Study
Epistemic beliefs are considered as a
general construct of assumptions or presumptions about the nature of
knowledge and knowing. It comprises the individual understanding of the
nature of knowledge and the creation of knowledge. The term
“epistemology” is used for centuries to refer to one of the basic fields
of philosophy, which is the study of the nature and scope of knowledge
and justified belief. BonJour(2002)opined that epistemic beliefs arethe
nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth,
belief and justification. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that
investigates what knowledge is and how people know whether they know
Greene and Edwards(2007); Alexander and
Sinatra(2007) stated that epistemic beliefs have received much attention
in the fields of educational and psychological research. It addresses
questions such as: What is knowledge? How do people know if they really
have knowledge? What provides a justification for any knowledge that
they have? For example, on what grounds are people justified in
believing that electrons have negative charge or that an accused robber
is guilty? Are people convinced by sensory evidence, by testimonial
evidence, by strong intuitions, or by some other means? Epistemologists,
of course, have developed many ideas about how to answer questions.
In the research work, both the terms
epistemological and epistemic are still used to refer to beliefs about
the nature of knowledge and the process of knowing although recently,
the latter has been used to a greater extent. For the purpose of
conceptual and lexical clarity, some scholars in the field of
educational psychology, Greene and Edwards (2007); Alexander and
Sinatra(2007) proposed to distinguish beliefs about knowledge and
knowing (epistemic) from beliefs about the study of knowledge
(epistemology). Some years earlier, from philosophical perspective on
psychology, R. F Kitchener (2002) argued in favour of the distinction of
two different levels, the epistemic level and the theory of the level.
It is most likely that students have epistemic beliefs. However, the
term is consistently us the adjective epistemic to refer to be beliefs
as personal, implicit or explicit, assumptions about the source, nature
and justification of knowledge. However, psychological approaches focus
on the development and stability of epistemic beliefs, educational
focuses on how epistemic beliefs, affect teaching activities Harteris,
Gruber andLehner(2006) and learning processes Bauer, Festner, Gruber,
Hateris andHeid(2004). Although there is substantial purview that shows
that epistemic beliefs are of multi-dimensional phenomena that affect
different aspects of students’ learning and education, less efforts have
been made to study such relationship in African cultures, especially in
Nigeria. (Muis, 2006) theoretically and empirically propounded that
epistemic beliefs play an important role in cognition, motivation and
learning. It seems to be a powerful concept, which can inform any
instruction or curricular work.
The major problems affecting students in
schools can mostly be defined as being obscure or certain and
uncertain, that is, problems in which there is uncertainty about how
they can most effectively be solved. Oh and Jonassen 2007; Angeli and
Valenides(2012) observed that cognitive processes are not enough reasons
alone for solving them, the most especially because knowledge presumes
or epistemic beliefs affect the ways that people naturally tend to
addresses the affected problems. Analytic research findings have shown
that peoples’ assumptions of knowledge do affect cognitive reasoning
The concept of optimism as mechanism for
improving individual performance has been discussed in the management
literature by different researchers. Though studies concerning optimism
in the workplace are comparatively limited, yet specific evidences exist
that connect the optimism with the achievement and improvement in
individual’s personal and professional growth. McGuigan and Hoy(2006)
stated that in academic field, optimism is one of the significant
organizational and individual characteristics that have recently
fascinated educational researchers' consideration in improving academic
learning and achievement. The ability to live in optimistic manner is
most probably drawn from an inherent inclination to be positive.
Optimism is generally defined as the mental and emotional attitude in
which an individual views life and the world from a positive
perspective. It means that it is intrinsic in nature which motivates an
individual to believe in positive side of life and put efforts for the
Hofer, B.K (2008) suggested that
epistemic beliefs should be divided into two major categories (a) nature
of knowledge, and (b) nature of knowing. Nature of knowledge comprises
of certainty of knowledge and simplicity of knowledge, while nature of
knowing comprises of source of knowledge and justification of knowledge.
Schommer-Aikins (2005) argued that epistemic beliefs can be in separate
numbers of independent beliefs and consequently proposed three further
beliefs, namely a belief in how ‘complex’ knowledge is (ranging from
complex to simple), a belief in how certain knowledge is (ranging from
highly certain to highly uncertain) and belief in the source of
knowledge (for example, knowledge coming from authority. For example, a
student may believe in complex but certain knowledge, complex but
uncertain knowledge, simple and certain knowledge or simple but
Academic achievement represents
performance outcomes that indicate the extent to which a person has
accomplished specific goals that were the focus of activities in
instructional environments, specifically in school, college, and
university. School systems mostly define cognitive goals that either
apply across multiple subject areas (e.g. critical thinking) or include
the acquisition of knowledge and understanding in a specific
intellectual domain (e.g. numeracy, literacy, science, history).
Therefore, academic achievement should be considered to be a
multifaceted construct that comprises different domains of learning.
Because the field of academic achievement is very wide-ranging and
covers a broad variety of educational outcomes, the definition of
academic achievement depends on the indicators used to measure it. Among
the many criteria that indicate academic achievement, there are very
general indicators such as procedural and declarative knowledge acquired
in an educational system, more curricular-based criteria such as grades
or performance on an educational achievement test, and cumulative
indicators of academic achievement such as educational degrees and
certificates. All criteria have in common that they represent
intellectual endeavours and thus, more or less, mirror the intellectual
capacity of a person.
In this article, the focus will be based
mainly on the relationship between epistemic beliefs, problem solving
and optimism factors influencing students’ achievement in accounting.
There is substantial evidence that supports the claim the students’
belief systems play significant role in their learning and motivation in
the classroom. There are numerous studies conducted about the academic
achievement and the effective factors. Some of them have a closer
relationship with the subject. Findings of the study reveal that the
background variables have significant impacts on the academic
performance of the students. Adeogun and Osifila (2008) examined that
there are significant impacts of limited educational resources on
student active performance. Having said this, lack of educational
resources is seen as one of the major factors hindering achievement. The
most influential theoretical account of epistemic beliefs as a
multi-dimensional construct was developed by Schommer-Aikins (2005).
Initially, Schommer differentiated between five more or less independent
dimensions of epistemic beliefs (a) simplicity of knowledge (b)
authority of knowledge (c) Certainty of knowledge (d) innate ability and
(e) learning speed. Several positive factors influencing students’
achievements in accounting can never be over emphasized. Some of these
factors are students’ personnel towards mathematics, classroom climate,
accounting anxiety, teachers attribute as lack of experienced accounting
teachers and shortage of qualified accounting teachers, teaching
methods students beliefs and attributes towards accounting practice and
To sum it up, the basic tasks of
epistemic beliefs can be summarized into main points. First, it offers a
good opportunity to positive factors of students’ achievement and the
relationship between epistemic beliefs, problem solving and optimism
factors influencing students’ achievement. There is substantial evidence
that supports the claim the students’ belief systems play significant
role in their learning and motivation in the classroom. Second,
accommodation with internal and external circumstances concerning
problem solving and optimism factors of students’ achievements.
Moreover, forming positive attitude towards knowledge, certainty and
uncertainty, simplicity and justification and developing it are ones of
the requirements towards making progress in accounting as well as tame
some of their personality problems.
Statement of Problem
There has been a lot of argument as
regards the epistemic belief, problem solving and optimism factors
influencing students’ academic achievement. The major problems affecting
students in schools can mostly be defined as being obscure or certain
and uncertain, that is, problems in which there is uncertainty about how
they can most effectively be solved. The question is, is there any
relationship between epistemic belief and the tendency to expect the
best or at least a favourable outcome (optimism).
With this in mind, the main statement of
problem for the study can now be phrased as follows. How do epistemic
beliefs influence the way that students think about a problem? Optimism
has a phenomenon in the corridor of education; to what extent has it
Purpose of the Study
This study aims to examine the:
• Effect of epistemic belief on students’ achievement.
• Effect of optimism factors influencing on students’ achievement.
• The relationship between epistemic beliefs and optimism factors influencing students’ achievement.
• How epistemic beliefs during problem
solving activities among a number of secondary school students in order
to better understand how students with different types of epistemic
beliefs think about the controversial problem and optimism factors
relate to teaching adopt in Ondo state.
The project work comprises of two research question which are as follows;
• What is the combine influence of epistemic beliefs and optimism factors, problem solving on students’ academic achievement?
• What is the relative influence of epistemic beliefs and optimism factors influencing students’ academic achievement?
Benefits of the Study
This study is to know the correlation
between epistemic belief, problem solving and optimism factors
influencing students’ achievement. The project would look into the
effect of epistemic belief and optimism factor on the method of teaching
adopted by the students’ teacher and how problem solving affect the
influencing students’ achievement taking Ondo state as a case study.
This research provided with valuable information to reach a better
understanding of how different factors influence students’ achievement
in accounting in Ondo state. This study also will add more statistical
data to prior accounting research, which will be used to improve the
content, format, quality and teaching-learning processes.
The study will cover selected secondary
schools in Ondo state, the project work would be limited to Ondo state.
The project is carried out within the purview of epistemic belief,
problem solving and optimism factors influencing students’ achievement.
Hence, the result will be applicable elsewhere outside the study area as
long as it is within the academic achievement.
Definitions of Terms
Epistemic belief: Epistemic belief is belief as general construct of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and knowing.
Problem solving: Problem solving is the innovative solutions.
Optimism: Optimism is
hopefulness and confidence about the future or success of something.
Optimism is generally defined as the mental attitude in which an
individual views life from a positive perspective.
Achievements connotes final accomplishments of something noteworthy
after much effort and often in spite of obstacles and discouragements.
Students: Students are learners who are ready to learn.
Accounting concepts: Accounting is defined as the basic assumptions which financial accounts of a business enterprise are prepared and presented.