Development and Initial Validation of the Literature Epistemic Cognition Scale (LECS)

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Learning and problem solving in the natural sciences and history is affected by epistemic cognition. Likewise, it has recently been proposed that the same is true for interpreting literature, although there is little empirical research on how individual differences in epistemic cognition for literary reading impact literary interpretation (Lee, Goldman, Levine, & Magliano, 2016). The development of a valid and reliable assessment of epistemic cognition for literature is an important step in examining this question. The present study takes a first study toward such a scale in that it reports the development of a scale that for assessing adolescents' epistemic cognitions for literary reading, the Literature Epistemic Cognition Scale (LECS). Results address the content validity, factorial validity, criterion validity, and reliability of the three constructs assessed on the LECS: relevance of literature to understand people and the human experience; openness of literary works to multiple meanings and interpretations; functionality of multiple readings of literary works for interpretation. The study involved a large sample of middle school students in the U.S. Confirmatory factor analysis validated the three-factor structure of the LECS. Criterion validity was established via correlational analyses between the subscale of the LECS and measures of the speed of acquiring knowledge, liking of reading, and frequency of reading as assessed through additional surveys. The implications of the results and directions for potential future research are discussed.