Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baxter Magolda's Epistemological Reflection Model.....and other thoughts

Baxter Magolda’s Epistemological Reflection Model

Absolute knowing
-Focus is on acquisition
-Knowledge is certain and comes from authorities
-Gender patterns are receiving (females) and mastering (males)
Transitional knowing
-Focus is on understanding and process
-Knowledge is uncertain
-Gender patterns are interpersonal (females) and impersonal (males)
Independent knowing
-Emphasis on open-mindedness
-People are equals in holding their own opinions as valid
-Knowledge is mostly uncertain
-Gender patterns are interindividual (females) and individual (males)
Contextual knowing
-Emphasis on thinking for oneself
-Analyzes existing knowledge and gives weight to context

So I’ve read half the book (and I have read some of this book before) and here are some of my thoughts:
1)Her preface/intro is great. I really like how she brought in the feminist background…I wish it were more of a theme throughout the book.
2)I find myself intrigued by these “within” differences vs. the actual “stages” themselves. I’d like to see more about the progression of the gender-related (but not dictated!) differences.
3)These ways of knowing do seem to follow (at least somewhat) the structure of college curriculum. Freshmen typically start out in large lecture classes and over the course of their time at college, courses get more focused (regarding subject matter) and smaller in size –which is more conducive to discussion. So I’m just curious as to how much this model would differ if students were continually lectured to throughout all four years OR had an overall more discussion-based curriculum. –Or perhaps there was already an awareness of this progression and thus the curriculum style sprung from it? What came first? Chicken or egg?
4)I am curious as to how other constructs such as motivation/caring play a role in this process.

I’ve thought back over the differences of my overall “mindset” from high school to college to graduate school and I think the biggest changes for me have been the shift in hrm…how do I phrase it? Epistemic value or priority perhaps? Prior to high school, my motivation and “care” for school was primarily external. My parents prioritized it, so I did (influence of authority) as well as the “achievement” piece – public recognition and awards. In high school, much of that remained similar, but I’d say somewhere around junior or senior year, it shifted more to “this is for me” – it was still not pure intrinsic motivation, but it wasn’t entirely extrinsic anymore. Then in college, my focus shifted away from being completely self-centered to more open and inclusive of my peers (the first time I saw them as “equals”). I’d say I cared more about learning on a more altruistic level than in high school, but I was still (at least somewhat) motivated by my grades.

After college, I joined the “real world” and that’s when I truly began to appreciate learning the sake of learning - the concept of the “lifelong learner.” I took post-bac classes in a subject I didn’t study in college just for fun. I couldn’t just be a person in a job and here, this is my life. It wasn’t enough. My shift here at that point was to an entirely internalized goal – I wasn’t living for some reward, for a pat on the back, for someone to tell me how great I was. It was entirely and completely for me and nobody else. Now in graduate school I find myself longing to explore connections between not just subject matters but with life -my life and the lives of others I know. This is, after all, the intention of my blog – a piece of personal history, a way for me to take what I’ve learned over the years and reflect and analyze and compare things to what I’m learning now, what’s going on around me, as well as with the people around me.

Today I went to a lecture by Nel Noddings which was thought provoking, especially given my thoughts regarding motivation and achievement. How do we, as a society, create “excited” learners? How can we teach students to grow to find what they love? How do achievement rewards and things like measurements/tests (ie NCLB) hinder this path? How dare we impose quantitative measures on qualitative learning! *sigh*

It’s interesting to see this push for “standards-based” curriculum and testing in the K-12 spectrum (ie NCLB) while more and more colleges and universities are doing away with looking at SAT’s as a measure for entry to college (most recently in California...)

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