Friday, September 17, 2010
Perry’s Theory on Intellectual and Ethical Development by Elvina Adakai
Overview of Theory
Perry’s Theory on Intellectual and Ethical Development was conducted in 1968 at Harvard University when Perry was serving as a Director in the Bureau of Study Council (Evans, 2010). He did his research on some male students at Harvard and some female students at Radcliffe, and he conducted year-end interviews on these students during their four years at the institution. The theory consists of nine positions and these positions are a tool for interacting with students that will help us understand students better.
Duality is when a student thinks there is an authority who knows the right answer and the authority should share the answer with them because they are all knowing. You can only be right or wrong there are no other answers to the problems you are faced with. Multiplicity is when you are willing to find out the right answer to the question you are faced with. Students in multiplicity are not so quick to have an answer given to them, but they want to find out for them selves through research so they can come up with their own opinion. Relativism is initiated by recognition of the need to support opinions and knowledge is viewed more quantitatively (Evans, 2010). Commitment in relativism is when students are required to make decisions in the real world, such as making decision about majors, relationships or their sense of identity (Evans, 2010). The last set of positions is the deflection from cognitive growth. Temporizing is the timeout period. Students who are in this position do not know where their next step should be and let outcomes from tests determine their next step. Escape is when a student is abandoning their responsibility and they do not want to make commitments. Retreat is when a student goes back to dualism and wants a counselor or another type authority to give them the answers to what their next step should be.
Use in Higher Education
Residence Hall, Academic Advisors, Financial Aid Advisors or Admissions advisors use Perry’s Theory in counseling with students. The residence hall advisors could use this theory with the way they pair up students in their halls. They would be able to figure out what type of students they are dealing with when a student has a problem. Financial Aid advisors could also benefit from this theory because the advisors deal with different types of students who do not want to take responsibility for why their paperwork did not get turned in on time. Students usually want someone to tell them if they are doing the process correctly. Sometimes with where I work we call this handholding. With Perry’s Theory we can figure out what kind of student we are dealing with and help them move (or reposition) from the dualistic position to a position that accepts multiple views.
Annotated Bibliography Entry
Zhang, L., & Watkins, D. (2001). Cognitive Development and Student Approaches To Learning: An Investigation of Perry's Theory with Chinese and U.S. University Students. Higher Education, 41(3), 239-61. Retrieved from ERIC database.
The authors, Zhang and Watkins conducted research using Perry’s theory on 67 US students and 193 mainland Chinese students to see if they could find relationships between the cognitive developments of these students. They had three main goals 1) to examine the relationship between Zhang Cognitive Development Inventory and the Study Process Questionnaire, 2) to explore the differences in cognitive developmental patterns between American and Chinese students, and 3) to identify the similarities and differences between American and Chinese students in the relationships of cognitive development with academic achievement and with selected student characteristics. American students showed more of a relativistic way of learning. Chinese students were more dualistic. Chinese students when they first enter college have a predetermined major. US students are more open to finding out what interests them and are more open to trying different fields than Chinese students are. I found this article helpful because when Perry conducted his initial research he did not take into consideration students from different cultural or ethnic backgrounds. He also did not conduct his research on other types of students besides males.
Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F., Patton, L.D., & Renn, K.A. (2010). Student development
in college: Theory, research, and practice. 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Zhang, L., & Watkins, D. (2001). Cognitive development and student approaches to learning: An investigation of Perry's Theory with Chinese and U.S. university students. Higher Education, 41(3), 239-61. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Perry, W.G., Jr. (1968). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years: A scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.