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 and policies implicate views on ‘knowledge’, through the ways they find and talk about information, and define ‘knowledge’ in documents such as assessment policies.

My PhD work used learning analytics – the analysis of digital trace created during learning tasks – to explore this issue. My interest is in understanding how people think about information needs, find information, and how we can support them to do that better. As a corollary to that I’m interested in the sort of epistemological implications of search engines, and other educational tools and how that relates to assessment.

I am now a Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney’s Connected Intelligence Centre, with a primary focus on Writing Analytics – learning analytics to support student writing practices, broadly construed, including analysis of the academic content, peer/self assessment, co-writing, and so on.

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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