Edev_501 Response wk6_3

You raise an interesting question: is the model that Hisham referenced Beeler’s or a different one?

It’s true I brought up the Wikipedia article as my starting point. This happened because that was high on the search results when I input ‘Beeler’. And it’s true that I used the Wiki article as the base for further references. I ignored the sequence on that page thinking that wikipedia had (again) got things upside-down.

After Wolfgang’s post, I went back to check more carefully. It seems that there are two models. The Four Stages of Competence does indeed reverse the Beeler’s final two to get:

  1. unconscious incompetence
  2. conscious incompetence
  3. conscious competence
  4. unconscious competence

And all of the sources in the Wikipedia article point to this model (i.e. Gordon Training, Process Coaching Centre & Businessballs).

But what about Beeler?

Finding an academic paper that actually presents Beeler’s stages directly proved impossible in the short time I had this morning, but I did find this. Gildersleeve et al. (2011) wrote, “Beeler suggested that in the first year, graduate students progress through four stages, beginning with unconscious incompetence and ending in conscious competence” (p. 95) clearly showing Hisham’s ordering.

Irrespective of the veracity of the source, I think that both orderings — and therefore both models — offer insights into the nature of learning. At this juncture, we need to ask if the opposite nature of final ordering is contradictory or complimentary. If contradictory, is one model more valid than another? If complimentary, is it possible that neither model is complete? My current opinion (as I haven’t seen how Beeler presented his model yet) is that neither model is a true model in that they lack an established (i.e. tested and quantitative) empirical basis, have little predictive power, and as descriptors, merely echo a cute sequence that appeals intuitively but upon reflection may actually lack substance. After all, how can #1 be accurate? Don’t we all approach a new topic for learning acutely aware that we don’t know about it? The first two stages must be amalgamated. And as there will always be aspects of learning that we are able to know the what of — declarative knowledge — and know the how of — procedural knowledge, stages 3 and 4 will never be settled.

Gildersleeve, R. E., Croom, N. N., & Vasquez, P. L. (2011). “Am I going crazy?!”: A critical race analysis of doctoral education. Equity and Excellence in Education, 44(1), 93-114.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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