Learning and metacognition

Metacognition is thinking about thinking. Metacognitive skills are an interrelated set of competencies for learning and thinking, and include many of the skills required for active learning, critical thinking, reflective judgment, problem solving, and decision-making. People whose metacognitive skills are well developed are better problem-solvers, decision makers and critical thinkers, are more able and more motivated to learn, and are more likely to be able to regulate their emotions (even in difficult situations), handle complexity, and cope with conflict. Although metacognitive skills, once they are well-learned, can become habits of mind that are applied unconsciously in a wide variety of contexts, it is important for even the most advanced learners to “flex their cognitive muscles” by consciously applying appropriate metacognitive skills to new knowledge and in new situations.

Lectica's learning model, VCoL+7 (the virtuous cycle of learning and +7 skills) leverages metacognitive skills in a number of ways. For example, the fourth step in VCoL is reflection & analysis, the +7 skills include reflective dispositionself-monitoring and awareness, and awareness of cognitive and behavioral biases.

Learn more

 

Learning in the workplace occurs optimally when the learner has a reflective disposition and receives both insitutional and educational support

Kegan’s Subject-Object Interview and the LSUA

Before I write about the relation between Kegan's Subject-Object Interview and the LSUA (the Lectical Self-Understanding Assessment), I'd like to explain some differences between these assessments. First, the SOI is both an interview and an assessment system. It was developed by studying the interviews of a small sample of respondents (Does anyone know how many?) who were interviewed on several occasions over the course of several years (Again, does anyone know how many or how often?). The level definitions and the scoring criteria in the SOI are tied to the subject matter of the interviews in the original sample (construction sample). For this reason, the SOI is called a domain-specific assessment. Researchers would say that the levels were defined by "bootstrapping" from the longitudinal data. Critiques of this kind of assessment point to bias in their level definitions (due to their small and culturally narrow construction samples), the related conflation (confusion) of particular conceptual content with developmental levels, and a weak articulation of the lowest levels, which are not based on direct empirical evidence from appropriate-aged respondents.

With respect to the LSUA, I want to clarify that it is scored with the Lectical Assessment System (LAS), a content-independent developmental scoring system that was created, in part, by identifying the dimension that underlies all longitudinally bootstrapped developmental assessment systems*. The SOI was one of the assessment systems I studied on the way to developing the LAS. Consequently, if the LAS does what it is supposed to do, it should capture the developmental dimension that underlies Kegan's system even better than his scoring system, because the LAS is a second generation developmental scoring system that is not restrained by a content-driven scoring process (Dawson, 2002; Dawson, Xie, & Wilson, 2003: There is much written about this in our published work, available on our web site.)

What is the relation between the LSUA and the Subject-Object Interview?

This is a difficult question to answer, partly because there is no research that directly compares the SOI and the LSUA. However, because the LAS is a domain independent scoring system that can be used to score any text that includes judgments and justifications, I have used it to score the SOI scoring manual. The developmental sequence for SOI levels 3 to 5 corresponds well to the dimension captured by the LAS, and levels 3-5 correspond roughly with Lectical Levels 10-12. However, Kegan's lower levels do not match up as well, possibly because his construction sample (the sample used to define his levels), as far as we can determine, did not include young children. (Kegan's original research was never published in a form that would allow us to evaluate the approach he took to defining his levels or the reliability and validity of the SOI. All we can locate are a few very small studies of inter-rater reliability, most of which are unpublished [Kegan, 2002].)

Comparisons of the Subject-Object Interview with other developmental assessment systems

There is some research comparing the SOI with other developmental assessment systems. In general, this research finds that the SOI and these other systems are likely to tap the same developmental dimension (see Pratt, et. al., 1991).

Ideally, we would like to conduct a direct comparison of the LAS and the scoring system Kegan developed to score the SOI, as we have done with other developmental assessment systems. (We are working with a graduate student who is planning do do this kind of comparison.) In the mean time, we can point to comparisons between the LAS and several other developmental assessment systems (Kohlberg, Armon, Kitchener & King, Perry) that were developed using methods similar to those used by Kegan, and have routinely found strong correlations (above .85) between these scoring systems and the LAS, especially when they are used to score the same material (Dawson, 2000, 2001 2002a, 2004; Dawson, Xie, & Wilson, 2003 ).

Finally, some of Kegan's level definitions are almost identical to those of Kohlberg and Selman. In fact, I would argue that they are primarily an extension of Selman's original work on socio-moral perspective, which has informed most domain-based developmental assessment systems (including all of the systems mentioned here) since it was introduced in the 1960's (and was a great help to me when I was developing the LAS).

*The claim that there is a single developmental dimension that underlies these systems is NOT the same thing as a claim that an individual will be at the same level in different knowledge/skill areas.

References

Commons, M. L., Armon, C., Richards, F. A., Schrader, D. E., Farrell, E. W., Tappan, M. B., et al. (1989). A multidomain study of adult development. In D. Sinnott, F. A. Richards & C. Armon (Eds.), Adult development, Vol. 1: Comparisons and applications of developmental models. (pp. 33-56). New York: Praeger Publishers.

Dawson, T. L. (2000). Moral reasoning and evaluative reasoning about the good life. Journal of Applied Measurement, 1(4), 372-397.

Dawson, T. L. (2001). Layers of structure: A comparison of two approaches to developmental assessment. Genetic Epistemologist, 29, 1-10.

Dawson, T. L. (2002a). A comparison of three developmental stage scoring systems. Journal of Applied Measurement, 3, 146-189.

Dawson, T. L. (2002b). New tools, new insights: Kohlberg’s moral reasoning stages revisited. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 26, 154-166.

Dawson, T. L., Xie, Y., & Wilson, M. (2003). Domain-general and domain-specific developmental assessments: Do they measure the same thing? Cognitive Development, 18, 61-78.

Dawson, T. L. (2004). Assessing intellectual development: Three approaches, one sequence. Journal of Adult Development, 11, 71-85.

Kegan, R. (2002). A guide to the subject-object interview. Unpublished Scoring manual. Harvard Graduate School of Education.

King, P. M., Kitchener, K. S., Wood, P. K., & Davison, M. L. (1989). Relationships across developmental domains: A longitudinal study of intellectual, moral, and ego development. In M. L. Commons, J. D. Sinnot, F. A. Richards & C. Armon (Eds.), Adult development. Volume 1: Comparisons and applications of developmental models (pp. 57-71). New York: Praeger.

Lambert, H. V. (1972). A comparison of Jane Loevinger's theory of ego development and Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moral development. University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Pratt, M. W., Diessner, R., Hunsberger, B., Pancer, S. M., & Savoy, K. (1991). Four pathways in the analysis of adult development and aging: Comparing analyses of reasoning about personal-life dilemmas. Psychology & Aging, 6, 666-675.

Sullivan, E. V., McCullough, G., & Stager, M. A. (1970). A developmental study of hte relationship between conceptual, ego, and moral development. Child Development, 41, 399-411.