Photo of me

By Katie Chan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Simon Knight, BSc (international hons – Leeds), PGCE (IoE), MA (distinction, IoE), MPhil (distinction, Cantab), PhD (OU), CPsychol (isn’t this a fun game to play…see my CV)

I’m interested in how people think about knowledge, and take action on that knowledge. Evidence, and sound argumentation are under the splotlight, with increasing availability of data, alongside a growing mistrust in the media, politicians, and ‘experts’ more broadly. Understanding how people navigate their own, and others’ knowledge is one of the most pressing social issues of our time in order to develop a sustainable society. My research particularly focuses on how people and policies implicate views on ‘knowledge’, through the ways they find and talk about information, and define ‘knowledge’ in documents such as assessment policies.

Evidence and information seeking: One strand of this work explored how small groups search for, and evaluate, information on the internet. My interest is in understanding how people think about information needs, find information, and how we can support them to do that better whether it’s trying to reconcile competing political views, or evaluating health evidence. I’ve used the lens of ‘epistemic cognition’, particularly in social/collaborative contexts to explore this issue. As a corollary to that I’m interested in the ways that tools like search engines shape our view of evidence (their epistemological implications), particularly as it relates to assessing students. My current work as a Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney’s Connected Intelligence Centre, takes a primary focus on student writing – how students write about evidence, and assess the evidence in other’s written texts. I’m hoping to develop work on ‘fact checking’ that combines both writing and information seeking.

Data and evidence: My teaching now focuses particularly on quantitative literacy, and teaching students to spot where statistical information has been used well, poorly, or omitted where it should not have been. A key method across my research is in learning analytics – the use of data derived from learning contexts to help us understand learning, and support it more effectively. In this space I’m particularly interested in thinking about how people think about and use data as evidence, especially educator’s use of learning and assessment data. Developing change models to drive use of evidence by students and educators is increasingly interesting to me.

Who Am I?

I’m interested in epistemic beliefs – beliefs about the source, structure, justification and stability of knowledge – and their relationship to actions by individuals and organisations.

On the latter, I wrote my MA thesis in philosophy of education on the implications of one perspective on mind (the Extended Mind thesis) for our understanding of knowledge and its assessment. There I focussed particularly on the use of external tools, and an experiment in Denmark which allowed students access to the internet during their exams (which to my knowledge is still ongoing) and the different notion of ‘knowledge’ implicated in that sort of system from the UK system. There I was supervised by the Institute of Education’s/London Knowledge Lab’s Jan Derry http://www.lkl.ac.uk/cms/index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=86

My MPhil explored these beliefs in action, looking at how children talk about their information needs when engaged in collaborative information retrieval activities in the classroom, and finding that these ‘epistemic beliefs in action’ were – unsurprisingly – related to the quality of information they retrieved. This work also found that their use of ‘exploratory talk’ – talk in which reasons are explained, ideas respected, etc. – was related to search success. This work was supervised by Neil Mercer at Cambridge http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/people/staff/mercer/.

My PhD research explored these beliefs in the context of mapping user epistemic beliefs as linked to their information retrieval behaviours, and working to scaffold the development of these beliefs through the use of learning analytics and collaborative platforms. I was supervised by KMI’s Simon Buckingham Shum (now at UTS), CREET’s Karen Littleton, and IET’s Bart Rienties.

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