Recognizing Intellectual Development of College Students
This presentation seeks to offer a fresh perspective for understanding and encouraging cognitive development in college students based on Perry's Scheme of Intellectual Development. Perry's Scheme illuminates significant positions of student intellectual growth offering instructors an awareness for those struggling students attempting to make sense of what they think is right and wrong under changeable contexts. Armed with the knowledge of cognitive complexity, instructors may perhaps be better equipped for class preparation and student interaction. Instructors may even be able to distinguish dualistic students from relativistic students by simply noticing students' use of language in their oral responses or on exam answers. Dualistic students who see the world in black and white find more comfort from a high degree of structure outwardly anxious when challenged by diversity. On the other hand, students who are beginning to adapt new more relativistic ways of understanding, analyzing, and evaluating will be more receptive to diversity and welcome challenge. Once an instructor finds the appropriate mix of structure, challenge, and encouragement, development can occur. Clearly this won't happen with every student in one semester but Perry's Scheme will help instructors recognize that class behavior and/or performance is conditioned and influenced by students' cognitive complexity and it will be in the best interest of the students if the instructor expands teaching capacities to encompass various cognitive levels while deepening their sensitivity to the individual learner.