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SRJIS/BIMONTHLY/MRS. MEENAKSHI LATH & DR.

BHAGWAN BALANI (5137-5142)

PHILOSOPHICAL BELIEFS OF UNDER GRADUATE STUDENTS: A


REFLECTIVE INQUIRY

Mrs. Meenakshi Lath1 & Bhagwan Balani2, Ph. D.


1
Assistant Professors
2
Bombay Teachers Training College, Colaba

Scholarly Research Journal's is licensed Based on a work at www.srjis.com

The youth of our country is our future and thus it is very important to know the beliefs,
perceptions, outlooks and mind set of these individuals. It is also important to provide them
with the best learning experiences to enhance their ability which will help them choose a
suitable career and vocation. Studying the philosophical beliefs will give us an insight into
the way they think, what they think and why they think something.
Boiadjieva, Elena (2009), conducted an investigation to understand the pedagogical
philosophies of Bulgarian secondary science teachers in public schools in Sofia, Bulgaria,
using the instrument that derived information for this study was an interview protocol
consisting of six open-ended questions, with a numerical scoring analysis: the teachers
Pedagogical Philosophy Interview (TPPI).
Philippou, George; Kyriakides, Leonidas (1991), examined teachers' philosophical beliefs
(PBs) about mathematics, the factors influencing the development of these beliefs, and their
relation to teachers' beliefs and practices about teaching and learning mathematics. Data were
collected through 229 questionnaires and five interviews. Analysis revealed a five-factor
model, representing combination of the three dimensions of a model proposed by Ernest
(1991). Four homogeneous groups of teachers according to their perceived importance were
identified. A relative consistency was also found between teachers' PBs and their beliefs
regarding teaching and learning Mathematics. However, inconsistencies between PBs and
teaching practices emerged, which could be partially attributed to the factors influencing the
development of PBs.
William A. Sandoval (2004), conducted a study on Understanding Students Practical
Epistemologies and Their Influence on Learning Through Inquiry, reviewed largely
independent lines of research into students beliefs about the nature of science and their
practices of inquiry to argue that students inquiry is guided by practical epistemologies that

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SRJIS/BIMONTHLY/MRS. MEENAKSHI LATH & DR. BHAGWAN BALANI (5137-5142)

are in need of study. An approach to studying practical epistemologies is proposed that has
the potential to produce a better psychological theory of epistemological development, as
well as to realize goals of a science education that develops scientifically informed citizens.
Philosophy is known as the mother of all sciences. It is derived from a Greek word which
literally translates into the love of wisdom and can be thus taken to be all encompassing and a
very broad and wide discipline. Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems,
such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and
language.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines philosophy:-
A particular set of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life, etc. or
A set of ideas about how to do something or how to live
These above definitions show the complexity of this discipline and how difficult it is to
comprehend its nature and understand it wholly.
Philosophy is divided into branches which include metaphysics epistemology, Axiology,
Logic, Ethics and Aesthetics.
Metaphysics: Metaphysics is the study of the most general features of reality, such as
existence, time, the relationship between mind and body, objects and their properties, wholes
and their parts, events, processes, and causation.
Epistemology: Epistemology is concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge such as
the relationships between truth, belief, perception and theories of justification.
Axiology: Axiology is the theory of values such as logic, ethics and aesthetics.
Logic: Logic is the study of the principles of correct reasoning. There are two types -
deductive reasoning or inductive reasoning.
Ethics: Ethics is the code of conduct and moral reasoning which guides our actions.
Aesthetics: Aesthetics is the study of beauty.
A belief is something very personal. It is the view that a person holds which reflects his
moods, attitudes, thinking and outlook towards life. It is not something one can alter easily.
Rather it is something that one abides by very purposefully.
As each person is different his set of beliefs will also differ from another person and so one
can say that each person has his own set of beliefs or belief system.
The four types of philosophical beliefs considered for this study are describes as under:
Existentialism: These individuals believe that the most important consideration for
individuals is that they are individualsindependently acting and responsible, conscious

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beings ("existence")rather than what labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other


preconceived categories the individuals fit ("essence"). Thus, human beings, through their
own consciousness, create their own values and determine a meaning to their life.
Empiricism: Empiricism is a theory which states that knowledge comes only or primarily
from sensory experience. These kind of individuals give emphasizes to the role of experience
and evidence, especially sensory experience, in the formation of ideas, over the notion of
innate ideas or traditions. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses
and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely
on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.
Essentialism: Essentialism is the view that, for any specific entity (such as an animal, a
group of people, a physical object, a concept), there is a set of attributes which are necessary
to its identity and function. Platonic idealism is the earliest known theory of how all known
things and concepts have an essential reality behind them (an "Idea" or "Form"), an essence
that makes those things and concepts what they are. Aristotle's Categories proposes that all
objects are the objects they are by virtue of their substance, that the substance makes the
object what it is. The essential qualities of an object, so George Lakoff summarizes
Aristotle's highly influential view, are "those properties that make the thing what it is, and
without which it would be not that kind of thing".
Rationalism: Rationalism is the view that regards reason as the chief source and test of
knowledge or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification.
More formally, rationalism is defined as a methodology or a theory "in which the criterion of
the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive". Rationalists believe reality has an
intrinsically logical structure. The rationalist believes we come to knowledge a priori
through the use of logic and is thus independent of sensory experience.
A philosophical belief system thus refers to the beliefs held about truth, knowledge, nature
and meaning of life, reasoning and reality.
Rational of the study:-
Philosophical beliefs of an individual are not often a topic of discussion and hence is a topic
that lies forgotten or buried in the sub conscious of the individual. Every individual has
certain beliefs and thinks in a particular way and it is important to know this pattern of
thinking. The younger generation often doesnt express its thoughts and feelings to others and
hence it becomes important to find out their beliefs about the various phenomenon that exist
in the universe. Students are at an age where it becomes important to assess their thinking
styles and their beliefs about knowledge and knowledge construction. This helps to evaluate
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SRJIS/BIMONTHLY/MRS. MEENAKSHI LATH & DR. BHAGWAN BALANI (5137-5142)

what factors affect their learning, what views they hold about life and what career would best
suit them. It gives a good insight into the world views of students and what their beliefs are
on the related topics.
Statement of the problem:-
Philosophical beliefs of Under Graduate Students: A reflective Inquiry
Conceptual Definition: Philosophical Beliefs
Philosophy is the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or
conduct.
A belief is a mental representation of a sentient being's attitude toward the likelihood or truth
of something
Thus, Philosophical beliefs are the ideas about the nature of reality, beliefs about knowledge,
truth, ethics, aesthetics and logic, the nature and meaning of life, etc.
Operational Definition: In this research, Philosophical beliefs refer to the views on reality
and values and how knowledge is conceived by the undergraduate students.
Aim of the study:- To study the philosophical beliefs of undergraduate students of South
Mumbai Colleges.
Objective of the study:-
1. To study the philosophical beliefs of Undergraduate students in relation to:
a) Empiricist beliefs
b) Essentialist beliefs
c) Rationalist beliefs
d) Existentialist beliefs
2. To analyse the philosophical beliefs of undergraduate students in relation to:
a) Empiricist beliefs
b) Essentialist beliefs
c) Rationalist beliefs
d) Existentialist beliefs
3. To compare the philosophical beliefs of undergraduate male and female students in
students in relation to:
a) Empiricist beliefs
b) Essentialist beliefs
c) Rationalist beliefs
d) Existentialist beliefs

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4. To compare the philosophical beliefs of undergraduate arts, science and commerce


students in relation to:
a) Empiricist beliefs
b) Essentialist beliefs
c) Rationalist beliefs
d) Existentialist beliefs
Scope & limitations of the study:- The study includes philosophical beliefs undergraduate
students of English Medium South Mumbai Colleges affiliated to University of Mumbai.
Research Design: The researchers have used the survey based descriptive research method.
The data was collected from the 60 undergraduate students studying in the colleges of South
Bombay affiliated to University of Mumbai.
Major findings of the study:-
Very few undergraduate male students showed the rationalist type of philosophical
beliefs; very few undergraduate male students showed the empiricist type of
philosophical beliefs and majority of them showed either the essentialist or the
existentialist type of philosophical beliefs.
Very few undergraduate female students showed the empiricist type of philosophical
beliefs, very few undergraduate female students showed the rationalist type of
philosophical beliefs and majority of them showed either the essentialist or the
existentialist type of philosophical beliefs.
Male students believe more in existentialist type of philosophy while female students
have a more essentialist type of philosophical beliefs.
No Arts students showed the empiricist and rationalist type of philosophical beliefs, few
Arts students showed the essentialist type of philosophical beliefs but majority Arts
students showed the existentialist type of philosophical beliefs.
Very few science students showed the empiricist type of philosophical beliefs, few
science students showed the rationalist type of philosophical beliefs, a fair percentage
showed essentialist type of philosophical beliefs and exactly half of the science students
showed the existentialist type of philosophical beliefs.
Very few commerce students showed the rationalist type of philosophical beliefs, few
commerce students showed the empiricist type of philosophical beliefs, a small
percentage showed existentialist type of philosophical beliefs and more than half of the
commerce students showed the essentialist type of philosophical beliefs.

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SRJIS/BIMONTHLY/MRS. MEENAKSHI LATH & DR. BHAGWAN BALANI (5137-5142)

On comparing the philosophical beliefs of all these students, it can be concluded that, Arts
students showed the highest in terms of existentialist type of philosophical beliefs, and
commerce students showed a higher essentialist type of philosophical beliefs. The science
and arts students were at par in the essentialist type of philosophical beliefs while all the three
streams ranked lowest in rationalist type of philosophical beliefs out of which the highest was
shown by science students. Students also showed low empiricist type of philosophical beliefs
with commerce students being the highest among the three streams.
References
Boiadjieva, Elena;(2009), An examination of teacher's pedagogical philosophical beliefs of
secondary science teachers in sofia public schools, sofia, bulgaria. Bulgarian Journal of
Science & Education Policy . Jun2009, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p39-46. 8p. 2 Charts.
Philippou, George; Kyriakides, Leonidas (1991), Towards Understanding Teachers' Philosophical
Beliefs about Mathematics, International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics
Education (26th, Norwich, England, July 21-26, 2002); see SE 067 806.
William A. Sandoval (2004), Understanding Students Practical Epistemologies and Their Influence
on Learning Through Inquiry, Understanding students' practical epistemologies and their
influence, Science Education July 2005 Impact Factor: 2.92 DOI: 10.1002/sce.20065

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