Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology

First Committee Member

Lisa D. Bendixen

Second Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages



This study explored the nature of three epistemic climates in a fourth-grade classroom (i.e., a science and a reading lesson) and a sixth-grade classroom (i.e., a reading lesson). An epistemic climate is defined as the nature of knowledge and knowing emerging from the personal epistemologies of: (1) students, and (2) teachers, as well as from the epistemological underpinnings of (3) knowledge representations (e.g., curricula and textbooks), (4) instruction, and (5) their reciprocal relations. An epistemic climate is unique to individual classrooms and subject to change. A variety of qualitative methods were applied to tap the five data points of each epistemic climate, and a 12-Cell Matrix interlacing epistemic dimensions and developmental levels was developed to analyze, triangulate, and integrate these different data points. The results showed that despite the more absolutistic nature of the three epistemic climates overall, certain variations could be identified within the epistemic patterns of learners' personal epistemology, teachers' personal epistemology, epistemic instruction, epistemic knowledge representations, and the reciprocal relations among them. Results indicated (1) an epistemic development in elementary school students from absolutistic thinking towards more multiplistic thinking, (2) domain-general and domain-specific aspects of epistemic climates, (3) an influence of teachers' personal epistemology and epistemic knowledge representations on epistemic instruction (i.e., mixed messages and instructional monocultures), (4) the influence of epistemic instruction on learners' personal epistemology, and (5) the ability of elementary school students to develop a positive or negative attitude towards the epistemology of a school subject. General issues are discussed, which focus on the developmental potential of epistemic climates on learners' personal epistemology, the need of addressing teachers' and students' personal epistemology in teacher pre- and in-service training, and their acknowledgement and influence in the development of curricula, school books, and other educational materials. Furthermore, detailed methodological and theoretical implications are provided along with recommendations for future research.


Classroom; Climates; Cognitive Development; Epistemic; Epistemology; Elementary Classrooms; Personal Epistemology; Students; Teachers

Controlled Subject

Educational psychology; Curriculum planning; Developmental psychology

File Format


File Size

5314.56 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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