School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Jillian Wendt


attitudes, socio-scientific issue (SSI), genetically modified foods (GMFs), epistemic beliefs, epistemic emotions


Biology | Education


Much research has explored socio-scientific issues (SSIs) in science instruction, including the connections between conceptions and attitude. Studies have also shown that epistemic beliefs affect epistemic emotions, which are a key component of students’ reaction to complex scientific topics. Correcting misconceptions can also result in emotional and attitude change, particularly surrounding the topic of genetically modified foods (GMFs). However, the impact of epistemic beliefs on emotions and attitude towards GMFs has largely gone unexplored. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of epistemic beliefs on epistemic emotions and attitudes towards GMFs. This quantitative correlational study sampled 78 students from a large Christian university in Virginia. Participants were assessed for epistemic belief, then read refutation and persuasive texts about GMFs prior to completing questionnaires about epistemic emotions and attitudes towards GMFs. These variables were measured using the following instruments: the Epistemic Belief Inventory (EBI), the Epistemically-Related Emotion Scales (EES), and the Attitudes about GMFs survey. The results did not indicate a predictive relationship between epistemic beliefs and emotions or attitudes towards GMFs. However, a significant predictive relationship between negative epistemic emotions and negative attitudes towards GMFs was found. As a result, the null hypothesis was rejected, and the regression analysis yielded a significant effect size. The contribution of these findings to the scholarly literature, as well as their practical implications, is discussed.