EDEV_504 Week 9_4

[Note: This post is out of sequence because I found it in my drafts folder. It is from Module 4. Still, the theme sits nicely with what I was writing in Module 5. This may be a sign that I’m settling on a thesis topic or that I’m repeating myself too much.]

Good luck with ‘nutting it out’! This is exactly why these forum boards are so useful in the development of our academic voices. Although we speak English, learning the vocabulary of academia is difficult and time-consuming: a million words to mastery, they say. Vocabulary is, however, the easy part.

I’d like to expand on your use of Perry’s (1970) ideas about epistemological development. Perry produced his 9-position scheme by studying white middle class male students. As an epistemology itself, other writers found it wanting because of its narrow focus. Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger and Tarule (1987) widened that focus by researching women’s epistemologies. They developed a separate set of categorisations that conflicted with Perry, including the recognition of the role of silence in how women conceptualise evidence. Following this and other studies (e.g. Baxter Magolda, 2004; Hofer & Pintrich, 1997), researchers investigated the epistemological beliefs of other populations in other parts of the world with various cultural bases and other types of student: Burr and Hofer (2002) with young children; Abdullah (2014) in a Malaysian university; Bråten, Helge, Strømsø and Salmero (2008) with predominantly female Norwegian students; Chan, Ho and Ku (2011) in a Chinese university; and Kline and Hayes (2010) in the UAE with female university students.

I list these studies for a reason—to make the point that even an established model like Perry’s scheme is itself based on assumptions and is open to questioning. Even the state of an epistemological scheme can be questioned at the ontological level. While most writers above accept the argument that epistemological development is stage based, i.e. students’ development can be plotted along a fixed sequence of distinct stages, other writers contend that epistemological development is dimensional based (Richardson, 2013).

At the end of the (studying) day when it becomes time to write our theses, we cannot reinvent the wheel. Axioms, paradigms, methodologies and so on are shorthands for discussions that have already taken place in the literature. We must (I believe) be able to locate our positions in relation to those discussions. To do that, we need to know not only the propositional content of the discussions but also we need to have the conceptual bases to understand those debates. But for now, this is the time to question axioms and assume nothing. This is the grammar of academic thought. This is the hard part.

Finally, let me share a YouTube video which I found very helpful in understanding this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b83ZfBoQ_Kw


Abdullah, N. (2014). A Case Study on Final Year Students in ICS: Are they Really Adult Learners? Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 164(August), 230–236. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.11.071

Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2004). Evolution of a Constructivist Conceptualization of Epistemological Reflection. Educational Psychologist, 39(1), 31–42. http://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep3901_4

Belenky, M. F., Clinchy, B. M., Goldberger, N. R., & Tarule, J. M. (1987). Women’s Ways of Knowing (Tenth Anni). New York: Basic Books.

Bråten, I., Strømsø, H. I., & Samuelstuen, M. S. (2008). Are sophisticated students always better? The role of topic-specific personal epistemology in the understanding of multiple expository texts. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 33(4), 814–840. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2008.02.001

Burr, J. E., & Hofer, B. K. (2002). Personal epistemology and theory of mind: Deciphering young children’s beliefs about knowledge and knowing. New Ideas in Psychology, 20(2-3), 199–224. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0732-118X(02)00010-7

Chan, N. M., Ho, I. T., & Ku, K. Y. L. (2011). Epistemic beliefs and critical thinking of Chinese students. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(1), 67–77. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2010.11.001

Hofer, B. K., & Pintrich, P. R. (1997). The Development of Epistemological Theories: Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing and Their Relation to Learning. Review of Educational Research, 67(1), 88–140. http://doi.org/10.3102/00346543067001088

Khine, M. S., & Hayes, B. (2010). Investigating women ’ s ways of knowing : An exploratory study in the UAE, 20(2), 105–117.

Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Richardson, J. T. E. (2013). Epistemological development in higher education. Educational Research Review, 9, 191–206. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2012.10.001

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
This entry was posted in EDEV_504 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s