HomeThe Asia-Pacific Education Researchervol. 21 no. 3 (2012)

A Comparative Study of Taiwan, Singapore, and China Preservice Teachers’ Epistemic Beliefs

Min-hsien Lee | Chin-chung Tsai | Ching Sing Chai

Discipline: Education, Philosophy



This study compares the epistemic beliefs of Chinese preservice teachers from Taiwan, Singapore, and China. These three localities signify three different socio-political variations of Chinese culture. Employing an adapted survey instrument created by Chan and Elliott (2004), 630 preservice teachers from the three localities were surveyed for their epistemic beliefs, including beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning. The results indicated that, with respect to beliefs about knowledge, relativist epistemological beliefs are generally held by the preservice teachers from Taiwan and Singapore, whereas the sample teachers from China were categorized as being in the multiplist epistemological stage. With respect to beliefs about learning, Taiwan’s preservice teachers expressed much more tendency to believe that ability is innate or fixed than did the samples from Singapore and China. The results of the current study further implied that, on the one hand, different educational philosophies (i.e., Democratic Western philosophy versus Marxist materialism) may have an influence on beliefs about knowledge; on the other hand, the varied paths of educational development and educational philosophy may result in different beliefs about learning. The implications for future study of personal epistemology are discussed.