Thursday, March 19, 2009

Underprepared & Underaware

I've been doing some work lately that has caused me to revisit a theme that I was quite fascinated with a few years ago.

In "Unskilled and Unaware of it" James Kruger and David Dunning describe a phenomenon whereby individuals with incompetence in some area (humour, writing, etc.) are unable to detect their own incompetence because of a lack of metacognitive ability about the particular skill or ability in question.  This has some interesting applications in education and students' willingness to engage in the process.

If they are incompetent in any of a number of academic areas, but don't know that, how receptive will they be to new opportunities to learn?  Will they engage?

James Prochaska's Transtheoretical Model (particularly the "Stages of Change" he identified with Norcross) has some interesting connections to these ideas as well.  If an individual is at a very early level in terms of their "readiness for change" how do they respond to efforts like first-year initiatives that seek to change academic attitudes and behaviours.  What risk do we run when we try to engage students that aren't ready to change?

Expect some more on this in the coming months.  I'm working on a paper and conference presentation exploring these issues.

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