Perry’s scheme of intellectual and ethical development
PERRY‟S SCHEME OFINTELLECTUAL AND ETHICALDEVELOPMENT
The History of Perry‟s Scheme In 1953 Perry was a staff member of the Bureau of Study Counsel at Harvard University: “In our daily counseling with students whose presenting concerns centered on their academic work, we have been impressed by the variety of the ways the students responded to the relativism which permeates the intellectual and social atmosphere of pluralistic university” (Perry, 1970, p. 4). The increase in college diversity reflected pluralism’s increased permeation into society, particularly in college students: “The increased mobility of the population at large, together with the new mass media, make the impact of pluralism part of experience in the society as a whole” (6).
The History cont. College students’ development include their response to these societal shifts (pluralism), and the student can either react positively or negatively to the societal expectation: “Whether he responds productively rather than destructively may be up to him in the end, but society may nourish the prospect of a productive outcome through an understanding of the learning and the courage the development entails” (Perry, 1970, p. 6) Considering these realities, Perry sought to learn about the experiences of these students and their development: “It was in light of these considerations regarding present-day liberal education and personal development that we set out to learn about the experience of students other than those who came to us for counsel” (6).
The Methodology of Perry‟s Research Narrowed down an initial outreach to 313 Freshman from the 1954-1955 academic year. Wanted to investigate development of young adults in college akin to Piaget’s childhood stages. Perry Administered his A Checklist of Educational Views (CLEV) in the Fall and Spring semesters: Identified 31 students to participate in interviews about their college experience. Identified students who represented extreme dualistic thinkers, extreme contingent thinkers, some in between the two, and others who had drastic changes to their scores between semesters.
The Methodology cont. Perry was able to conduct 98 recorded interviews with 17 existing as complete four year-records. Interviews asked students to comment on their experiences each year (what they felt was significant not prompted). Interviews revealed a common sequence of challenges. Perry conducts a second study in which he: Obtains larger sample of students (resulting in 366 interviews and 67 complete four-year reports). Asks questions more directed at identifying a developmental scheme. Allows the scheme to be tested for validity.
Perry‟s Findings There are some consistencies across the interviews: The content varied but the “underlying structures of meaning making…and the sequence of development were equivalent” (Perry‟s Intellectual Scheme, 1996, p. 6). Differences between answers were not simply personality differences but rather difference in developmental position (6).
Perry‟s Findings cont. Students perceive experiences: According to what they can readily make meaning of According to what they already know/accept as truth Students process experiences by either: Conforming an experience to fit their expectations Modifying their expectations to accommodate the experience. (Perry, 1970, p. 43-44)
Perry‟s “Model” Dualism Answers can only be right and wrong and are usually obtained by authority figures that are readily accepted as true. Multiplicity Acknowledgement of other perspectives and an increased reliance on one‟s own experience – “all opinions are seen as having comparable claims to correctness” (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p. 35) Relativism Understand that knowledge occurs in context, and “students recognize that not all positions are equally valid” (35). Commitments in Relativism Challenge and test knowledge (accepted truth) actively resulting in their own determinations that exist in a pluralistic world – “The individual makes commitment to ideas, values, behaviors, and other people” (35).
Dualism Position 1: Basic Duality Students conceptions of knowledge, truth, and morality result between “in-group vs. out-group” (Perry, 1970, p.59). Student appears naïve/innocent and will exercise simple obedience. Position 2: Multiplicity Pre-Legitimate Is that your final answer? Rebels against multiplicity “in defense of growth rather than defense against it” (75). Students are aware of different perspectives but they are also aware that they have not grown enough to be receptive to this diversity – they rebel but at the seem time feel “frozen” (75). Freshmen college students “are functioning intellectually in the transition from Perry stages 2 and 3” (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p. 163).
Multiplicity Position 3: Multiplicity Subordinate Students recognize that Authority is no longer perceived as absolute. “uncertainty and complexity are no longer considered mere exercises or impediments devised by Authority but seen as realities in their own right” (Perry, 1970, p. 89). Do you see the Rabbit or the Duck? Both maybe? Position 4: Multiplicity Correlate Students begin to understand the ambiguity in Authority knowledge and begin to form ideas of their own without fear of being regarded as “wrong.” Student “demands that Authority justify itself by reasons, and most fatally, by evidence. Unwittingly Senior college students “are he may then be caught in the necessity to do the functioning intellectually same” (99). between stages 3 and 4” (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p. 163).
Relativism Position 5: Relativism Correlate, Competing, or Diffuse Students begin to see “all knowledge as contextual and relativistic” (Perry, 1970, p. 109). Students utilize analytical thinking skills and critique not only the ideas of others but there own. They begin to see themselves as less an absorber of knowledge, but as an analyzer. What do you see on each side of the structure? Different abstractions on the same cityscape? Position 6: Commitment Foreseen Student begins to consider acting as “agent and chooser to aspects of his life in which he invests his energies, his care and his identity” (135). Students may have difficulty with this stage as “the discovery of relativism in ideas and values can engender resistance to choosing among presumably equal alternatives. Development may be delayed at this stage” (Pascarella and Terenzini, 2005, p. 35).
Commitments to Relativism Position 7: Initial Commitment Students commit to deciding who they are and who they will be. Position 8: Orientation in Implications of Commitment Students determine how they will fulfill their determinations in Position 7. Pulled self apart, analyzed, and reconstituted. Position 9: Developing Commitments Student has “developed an experience of „who he is‟ in his Commitments both in their content and in his style of living them” (Perry, 1970, p154).
Barriers to transitionWhile developing, students may encounter barriers that hinderprogress into the next position: Temporizing Movement is postponed – static, “frozen” state. Escape Abandonment of responsibility due to feeling alienated. Tends to manifest after reaching Position 4. Retreat Temporary regression back dualism
Applications of Perry‟s Scheme Perry‟s Scheme is inclusive and can be applied to inform a range of student affair practices; from direct instruction assessment to policy/initiative formation. Perry‟s Scheme is inclusive by nature and can be applied to multiple students regardless of whether or not they are in different stages of development. Those who study Perry‟s Scheme of Intellectual and Ethical Development can self assess their own development and identify ways to challenge themselves into further stages of development. (Perry, 1970, p. 14)
Limitations of Perry‟s Scheme The overwhelming majority of the students interviewed were males (only two were female). While certainly applicable, to a degree, with modern day colleges and universities, the research was conducted in the post WWII era (several generations of college students prior). The Scheme Intertwines intellectual and moral constructs and assumes that the intellectual precedes the moral.
Perry‟s Scheme in Practice Southern Illinois University Carbondale Professor Ann Gribbin utilized Perry‟s Scheme to assess the developmental level of her Foundational Design Course students.“William Perry‟s scheme is useful to help explain thecognitive development process of many collegestudents. His recommendations to support students attheir current level of development and challenge themto higher positions can be applied to the pedagogyused in beginning design courses. Instructors canstructure courses to support students in dualist positionsat the beginning of the semester and progressivelyadd challenges that will move students to learn toevaluate their solutions in contextual relativism and toacknowledge personal agency for their solutions”(Gribbin, 2003, 7).
Gribbin‟s Four Strategies Strategy 1: “plan the semester as a progression through the positions of Perry‟s scheme” (Gribbin, 2003, p.5). Early lessons focus on instructions that have students arriving at the same answer Move students gradually into assignments that are less defined and compel them to investigate and experiment. Final semester assignments would then require students to interpret and plan.
Gribbin‟s Strategies cont. Strategy 2: “be conscious of students‟ level of development when presenting information and explaining principles” (6). Ask students question that are appropriate for their development level – a dualist may be fine with “right” or “wrong,” but a multiplicity student in that same class will find this frustrating. Try asking questions that will push the dualist student toward thinking in the multiplicity stage without leaving them in the dark; have them reflect.
Gribbin‟s Strategies cont. Strategy 3: “gear assessment of students‟ work to their level of development” (6). Make assignments very objective early on in the semester to help students build confidence in knowing that they “doing it right” and how to “fix” what they are “doing wrong.” With the clear firm foundation, the assignments can have less specific criteria because students will have tools to evaluate themselves.
Gribbin‟s Strategies cont. Strategy 4: “individualize work” (6). Utilize different strategies for different students. Have tactics not only for engaging the dualist students but also challenge the multiplicity and relativism students as well (help them reach their personal best).
ConclusionPerry‟s Scheme of Intellectual and Ethical Development remains aneffective tool for not only for comprehending young adultdevelopment during the college years, but for instigating betterstudent affairs practices including faculty pedagogy:“Student affairs staff use student development theory intheir everyday decision-making process. Questioning whatstudents will gain from a particular program or asking if acertain service meets the students needs should be acommon occurrence for staff in areas like residence life,
ReferencesGribbin, Ann. (2003). “Design and Critical Thinking: Applying Perry’s Theory of IntellectualDevelopment to Foundational Design Instruction.”Unstaked territory : frontiers of beginning design :proceedings of the 19th National Coference on the Beginning Design Student, Oklahoma StateUniversity, Stillwater, Oklahoma, April 3-5, 2003. Stillwater, OK: Oklahoma State University, Collegeof Engineering Architecture and Technology.Pascarella, E; Terenzini, P. (2005). How college affects students : a third decade of research. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass.Perry, William G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College years. NewYork: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston.Perrys Intellectual Scheme. (1999). New Directions for Student Services, (88), 5.Weaver, Laurie A. (1995). “Faculty Use of Perry’s Intellectual Development Model.” retrieved from:http://digitool.library.colostate.edu///exlibris/dtl/d3_1/apache_media/L2V4bGlicmlzL2R0bC9kM18xL2FwYWNoZV9tZWRpYS8zMTE2MA==.pdf