New talk: Who to believe? Conceptualising and navigating disagreement

I recently gave a talk at the University of Minnesota Learning Informatics Lab, which is a really interesting lab focusing on the research, design, and mobilize of information technology and data analytics to improve learning and conditions for learning. Many thanks to them for the invitation to speak, and to those who attended. It’s a bit of an overview of a range of areas we’ve done work in, with some implications for how we frame current epistemological challenges, and learning.

Title: Who to believe? Conceptualising and navigating disagreement

Two patients with the same condition decide to research possible treatments. They encounter multiple sources, from experts and others, each with different – sometimes contradictory – information. Depending on whom they believe and how they integrate these claims, the patients may make radically different decisions. These situations are commonplace in everyday life, from medical choices, to our voting decisions. How do we understand these differences, and support people in making the best decisions?

Epistemic cognition provides one lens onto this problem. Epistemic cognition is the study of how people think about the justification, source, complexity, and certainty of knowledge. When we evaluate evidence, think about where and when it applies, and connect claims to build models, we engage our epistemic cognition. 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. To understand this, we also need to be able to conceptualise the issues people encounter, from navigating scientific uncertainty, understanding the nature of (relevant) expertise, and other issues. This talk will draw on research in epistemic cognition, and my own research on how people search for and talk about evidence, and recent work in conceptualising expert-expert disagreement, to flag key implications for helping people navigate these issues. Biography: Dr Simon Knight is a senior lecturer in the University of Technology Sydney, Transdisciplinary School, Director of the Centre for Research on Learning in a Technological Society, and co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Learning Analytics  Prior to moving to UTS he completed his PhD in learning analytics at the Open University, UK. Dr Knight is a qualified high-school teacher, with a Bachelors in psychology and philosophy, and Masters degrees in philosophy of education, and research methods in education.

Dr Knight’s work focuses on how people think about evidence and use evidence to inform decisions. His research has included investigating how people use search engines to find and evaluate information, and more recently how educators think about data and technologies to understand their learners. In recent work with Kristine Deroover (PhD candidate) he is aiming to conceptualise expert-expert disagreement.

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