Cogntion & Learning: Stages of Intellectual Development

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COGNTION & LEARNING:
STAGES OF INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT
Jennifer Lange
Perry Game
Your Task:
1.
Sort the statements into categories based on
attitudes about learning.
2.
Assign a label to each category that describes the
intellectual stage shown.
3.
Debrief – what are your categories and why did
you choose those statements as a group?
Adapted from Reimers & Roberson 2001
Theories of Intellectual Development

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Describe how our views change over time from
unsophisticated (black & white) positions to ones
that embrace complexity
Changes are responses to intellectual, social, or
emotional challenges
Students begin to question values and assumptions
presented to them by family and society; they start
to develop their own
Theories of Intellectual Development



Describes students in aggregate, not individually
Development is not always forward
Can be in different stages at the same time in
response to different intellectual challenges
Research

Perry (1970)
 464
interviews with 140 male Harvard students in the
50’s & 60’s

Belenky et al. (1986)
 135

women (90 students) in US in 70’s & 80’s
Baxer-Magolda (1992)
 Followed
101 (half male/half female) Miami University
students from 1986-1991
Research
Perry
Belenky
et. al
BaxterMagolda
Dualism
Silence Received knowledge
Absolute
knowledge
Transitional
knowledge
Multiplicity
Relativism
Commitment
Subjective
knowledge
Procedural
knowledge:
• separated
• connected
Constructed
Independent
knowledge
Contextual knowledge
Stages

Dualism/Received/Absolute
 Knowledge
is viewed as received truth
 What matters is if facts are right or wrong
 Information is always known and is passed down
 Teacher = one that has the answers
 Learning = memorizing notes for tests, getting the A is
what counts
Student Frustration: Why won’t the teacher directly
answer my questions?
Stages

Transitional
 Similar
to dualism/received/absolute with the
exception that they recognize a question may not be
able to be answered, and this is ok
Student Frustration: Why won’t the teacher directly
answer my questions?
Stages

Multiplicity/Subjective/Independent
Knowledge is a matter of opinion
 Teacher = not the authority, just another opinion
 Learning = a purely personal exercise
 People can disagree and both can be right
 Justification isn’t necessary, so shouldn’t judge

Student Frustration: How can the teacher evaluate my
work?
Stages

Relativism/Procedural/Contextual






Knowledge is based on evidence
Supporting your argument with reasons is key
Teacher = conversation partner, guide
Learning = what we “know” is dependent on context
Arrive at this through teacher guidance – “give 3 pieces of
evidence to back up your statement”
No decision made between options, just multiple supported
categories
Student Question: What are more sources of information?
Stages

Commitment/Constructed





Knowledge is based on evidence and leads to decision and
action
Facts, feelings, and perspectives all matter – how will I act upon
them?
Teacher = one source of many
Learning = making choices, acting on them, taking responsibility
Makes provisional commitment based on current evidence; could
change if contradictory evidence arises
Student Question: What were the results of my actions? What
does that mean about my future actions & principles I live
by?
Intellectual Development by Year
90
80
Percentage of students
70
60
50
40
30
20
absolute
transitional
independent
contextual
10
0
Adapted from Baxter-Magolda (1992)
Implications?



If most of our students are in the absolute or
transitional stages, what can we do to promote
movement to the next stage?
How might this affect how we evaluate their critical
thinking skills?
Others?
Modified from DiPitro @ POD 2010

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