A Comparative Analysis of Longitudinal Studies of College Students' Intellectual Development

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Title: A Comparative Analysis of Longitudinal Studies of College Students' Intellectual Development
Author: Boonyaprakob, Kornsiri
Advisors: Dr. Ellen S. Vasu, Committee Member
Dr. Alan J. Reiman, Committee Chair
Dr.Christopher M. Anson, Committee Member
Dr. Herbert A. Exum, Committee Member
Dr. Lois E. Huffman, Committee Member
Abstract: Research literature on thinking indicates an association between thinking, behavior and judgment. Thus, it is critical that education support students' growth in ways that they can independently think, behave, and make judgments appropriately when confronting complexity in life. However, there is a need for more scientific and evidence-based approaches for fostering undergraduate students' intellectual growth. The purpose of the research is to enlarge the literature evidence of how college students think, learn, know, and make judgments about ill-structured problems; and how education can help them develop intellectually. This dissertation begins with a summary of connections among four cognitive-structural theories: Perry's Scheme of Intellectual and Ethical Development (1970), Baxter Magolda's Epistemological Reflection Model (1992), King and Kitchener's Reflective Judgment Model (1994), and Harvey, Hunt and Schroder's Conceptual Development Theory (1961). Second, two four-year longitudinal studies are described for undergraduate teacher education students at a university in southeastern, United States. These longitudinal studies report changes in conceptual development of the students as a result of attending the Deliberative Psychological and Professional Education program (DPPE). Third, through a comparative analysis, the study reports and compares effect sizes of the two teacher education studies and eight one-year to four-year longitudinal undergraduate college studies that are based on the four theories. Moreover, it describes features of the programs that foster intellectual development among college undergraduate students. Finally implications are drawn for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. The analysis of the four theories suggests that the theories are connected in terms of their assumptions about the developmental process of cognitive structures and their assumptions about knowledge or information or problems. Findings from the two studies suggest that design principles for the DPPE did foster the conceptual development of college students in teacher education. After participating in the program for four years, their conceptual level changed in positive directions. Effect sizes were very large (+1.07) for the first study and moderate (+.59) for the second study. These findings could have effective assessment of dispositions in teacher education as outlined by national accrediting bodies such as the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Comparative analysis across the ten studies indicates that college education positively fosters the students' intellectual development. As well, the magnitude of development, as indicated by effect sizes in the majority of the studies was found to be moderate (+.54, +.57, +.59, and +.60), large (+.73), and very large (+1.07, +1.34, and +1.43). Six of the ten studies explored gender issue and found no statistically significant difference in trend and magnitude of development between female and male students. Findings among the studies suggest that programs can foster students' intellectual development when deliberatively designed and implemented. Three studies examined relationships between students' major and intellectual development and found no statistically significant relationships between them. No conclusive findings were found among four studies that investigated age and life experience in relation to intellectual development. Findings suggest an interpretation that students' intellectual growth occurs most consistently as a response to education. Two studies examined the relation between students' conceptual level in relation to their persistence and dropout and found no relation between conceptual level and the rate of graduation or dropout. With the analysis of deliberative program features, the researcher suggests that features of programs designed to foster intellectual development should derive from an understanding of how students learn, what they should learn, and how to teach them.
Date: 2003-03-17
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Curriculum and Instruction
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4491

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