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Epistemic Trust and Education: Effects of Informant Reliability on Student Learning of Decimal Concepts

Thu, April 16, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Sheraton, Floor: Fourth Level, Chicago VI&VII


The epistemic trust literature emphasizes that how children evaluate informants' trustworthiness affects learning, but there is no evidence that epistemic trust affects learning in academic domains. The current study investigated how informant reliability affects decimal learning. Fourth- and fifth-graders (N = 122; mean age = 10.1 years) compared examples either from consistently accurate and inaccurate informants (consistent) or from informants who were each sometimes accurate and inaccurate (inconsistent). Fourth-graders had higher conceptual knowledge and fewer misconceptions in the consistent condition than the inconsistent condition, and vice versa for fifth-graders. Given the same examples, learning differed depending on whether informants were portrayed as reliable or unreliable. Thus, epistemic trust is a malleable factor that affects learning in an academic domain.