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Western Washington Assessment Handbook[1]

Western Washington Assessment Handbook[1]

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Published by Brian Bailey

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Published by: Brian Bailey on Jul 12, 2011
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10/14/2012

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In the ffties and sixties, Harvard educational psychologist and student counselor
William Perry, Jr., used students’ own perceptions of overall changes in their
learning and development during college to formulate a model of intellectual
development that includes both the cognitive and affective development of
increasingly complex forms of thought about the world, one’s discipline, and
one’s self. Perry’s work underscores the notion that the deep learning most
faculty really want to see students achieve involves signifcant qualitative

changes in the way learners make meaning from their learning.

Perry’s “scheme” consists of nine hierarchical and integrative cognitive
“positions” defned by how people make meaning of their experiences. Each
position represents a quantum shift in thinking; like electrons jumping to higher
levels, students need some quanta of integrative experience to “jump” to higher
levels of complexity in their world views and behaviors. (See Table 1.5.)

Table 1.5: The Perry Model of Intellectual Development

1-2

3

4

5

Dualism

Multiplicity 1

Multiplicity 2

Contextual
Relativism

Truth is absolute
and defned by
an Authority.

Truth is absolute

and knowable,

but incompletely
defned by
Authority.

Truth can never

be known

with absolute

certainty.

Any act of

knowing requires

taking a point of
view.

Undergraduate college education generally involves development up to
positions 4 or 5. In particular, the shift from level 4 to level 5, where students
integrate their values with their evolving cognitive understanding, is regarded
as a particularly signifcant transition in intellectual development, and is

entirely consistent with Western’s mission as stated above.

19

Perry positions

1-2 = Dualism

3 = Multiplicity 14 = Multiplicity 2

5 = Contextual
Relativism

Truth is absolute
and defned by an
Authority.

Truth is absolute

and knowable,

but incompletely
defned by
Authority.

Truth can never

be known with

absolute certainty.

Any act of

knowing requires

taking a point of
view.

Bloom’s affective domain

Receiving
phenomena

Responding to
phenomena

Valuing

Organizing

Internalizing
values

Bloom’s cognitive domain

RememberUnderstand

Apply

Analyze

Evaluate

Create

Table 1.6: Bloom and Perry models compared

Table 1-6 is also consistent with Robert Kegan’s theory of lifespan development,
which asserts that we make sense of the world in three primary, evolving, and
interactive dimensions :

cognitive: how one makes sense of knowledge;
interpersonal: how one sees oneself in relation to others; and

intrapersonal: how one develops an internal belief system.

Because complex learning is a goal of higher education, and because people tend
to become “embedded” in their beliefs, it is essential that students be engaged,
challenged, and supported as they develop in all of these interacting dimensions.



The Bloom and Perry models together present an unifed way of looking at the
kind of integrative learning that Western strives for all graduates to achieve. Lower
levels of development are on the left, and higher on the right. (See Table 1.6.)

20

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