Cognitive, Moral, and Emotional Development of Students


The college years are a time of significant growth and change for students as they confront new ideas and experiences that may challenge what they already know and believe. Faculty members who understand these changes can design courses and activities that meet students’ needs and support their continued development. The links below present theories, research, and information on students’ cognitive, moral, and emotional development in college. They are divided into four categories: Cognitive Development; Moral Development; Cognitive and Moral Development and Diversity; and Emotional Development.


Cognitive Development

Perry Network and Center for the Study of Intellectual Development, William S. Moore,Coordinator.
This is a website dedicated to Perry's Model of intellectual development, its assessment and research support. Click on "Overview of Perry Scheme" for a complete description of Perry's model of cognitive and affective growth during the college years.

Summary of Women's Ways of Knowing, Belenky et al. Basic Books 1986 (Ferris State University, Center for Teaching, Learning, and Faculty Development). 
A concise summary of the five stages of knowing from Belenky et al.'s book.

A Guide to Feminist Pedagogy” (Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching, written by seven graduate students and one CFT assistant director).
Presents a philosophy, a theory of teaching and learning that integrates feminist values and understandings “to inform a deliberate application in specific classrooms.”

"Models of Cognitive Development: Piaget and Perry," Chapter 14 from Teaching Engineering, Phillip C. Wankat and Frank S. Oreovicz, McGraw-Hill, 1993.
This book chapter provides in depth descriptions of Piaget's and Perry's theories of cognitive development. The authors also include the contributions of Belenky, et al (1986) to a better understanding of different methods of knowing than those postulated by Piaget and Perry. Implications for Engineering Education could apply to many disciplines in higher education. The chapter concludes with activities and teaching methods that encourage cognitive growth.

Reflective Judgement, Patricia M. King (University of Michigan). 
A website dedicated to the Reflective Judgement Model that describes the "development of reasoning from adolescence to adulthood." Contains a description of the model, instruments for assessing RJ, research, educational implications, and references.

"Strengthening Practice with Theory," Martha E. Casazza (National Louis University). From the Journal of Developmental Education, Vol 22, No 2, Winter 1998.
Using case studies of three college students, this article examines several theories of cognitive development and different ways of understanding what knowledge is. These theories are applied to the case studies and used to develop a framework for understanding cognitive growth.

Improve with Metacognition.  (Created by Lauren Scharff, U.S. Air Force Academy; John Draeger, SUNY Buffalo State; Aaron S. Richmond, Metropolitan State U. of Denver, Colorado. A team of colleagues will regularly contribute blog posts & submit resources.)
An interactive site on metacognition, the development of higher level thinking about ones own learning processes, about ones own thinking.  Designed for faculty who want to learn about metacognitive instruction and for students who wish to develop their higher level thinking skills.  Provides resources such as short videos and a weekly archived blog that invites readers’ comments.

Promoting Student Metacognition,” Kimberly D. Tanner, Life Sciences Education, Vol. 11, Summer 2012.
Strategies for teaching students metacognition skills to improve their learning.  Has chart with questions students might ask themselves for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluating a class session, a task or homework assignment, and a quiz or exam.  Other strategies include writing about The Muddiest Point and keeping a Reflective Journal.

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Moral Development

Moral Development and Moral Education: An Overview, Mary Elizabeth Murray, (University of Illinois at Chicago). 
Reviews the major developmental theories on moral education and provides information on where to find additional materials on each.

Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development,
Summarizes Kohlberg's work on moral development.'s%20Stages%20of%20Moral%20Development.htm

Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice, Chuck Huff (St. Olaf College).
Provides a summary of Gilligan's theory of stages of moral development for women and comparison to both Piaget and Kohlberg.

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Cognitive and Moral Development and Diversity

"Encountering Diversity on Campus and in the Classroom: Advancing Intellectual and Ethical Development," Lee Knefelkamp and Timothy David-Lang (Teachers College, Columbia University). Diversity Digest, Spring/Summer 2000.
This article presents evidence that students' levels of cognitive development influence their encounters with diversity in college courses and on campus. In designing diversity courses, faculty should be aware that students might not be intellectually and psychologically ready for this learning experience and sequence these encounters to enhance reflection and cognitive growth.

"Higher Education and Reducing Prejudice: Research on Cognitive Capabilities Underlying Tolerance," Victoria L. Guthrie (Ohio University), Patricia M. King and Carolyn J. Palmer (Bowling Green University). Diversity Digest, Spring/Summer 2000.
The authors explore the relationship between tolerance for diversity and intellectual level. They review research in this area and describe their own research using the Reflective Judgment Model, offering evidence that tolerance is related to a student's level of intellectual development and reflective judgment. 

"New Arguments for Diversifying the Curriculum: Advancing Students' Cognitive Development," Hans Herbert Kogler (University of North Florida). In Diversity Digest, Summer 1999.
Argues that multicultural education advances students' cognitive capabilities as well as enhancing their moral and social development.

"Charting Cognitive and Moral Development in Diversity Classes," Maurianne Adams (University of Massachusetts, Amherst). Diversity Digest, Fall/Winter 2002. 
Describes research conducted in the author's undergraduate course on social diversity and social justice in which students demonstrated growth toward multiplistic thinking by the end of the course.

"Diversity and Higher Education: Theory and Impact on Educational Outcomes," Patricia Gurin, Eric L. Dey, Sylvia Hurtado, Gerald Gurin (University of Michigan). Harvard Educational Review, Vol.72, No. 3, Fall 2002.
Reviews the theoretical foundations and educational research that demonstrate the positive effect of a diverse student population on students’ cognitive and social growth.

Journal of College and Character, published by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and sponsored by the Hardee Center for Leadership and Ethics, Higher Education Program, Florida State University . 
This online journal features articles on college students’ moral development and other ethical issues on college campuses. Articles include scholarship as well as practice.

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Emotional Development

Emotional Intelligence Information, John D. Mayer (University of New Hampshire, Durham). 
A site devoted to "communicating scientific information about emotional intelligence." Defines and describes it, offers articles, EI assessment measures, and other resources.

A Guide to Feminist Pedagogy:  The Role of Experience & Emotions” (Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching, written by seven graduate students and one CFT assistant director).
This section of the feminist guide discusses the role of personal experience and emotions in learning and knowing.

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