DECISION MAKING PROCESSES USED IN CURRICULUM TASKS PERFORMED BY EDUCATORS (COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY)

NATALIE ANNE SILVERSTEIN, Fordham University

Abstract

The current study investigated the effect of task complexity on the cognitive decision making behavior of eighteen adults when they judged a complex curriculum choice task (six alternatives), a simple complete curriculum choice task (two alternatives), and a simple incomplete curriculum choice task (two alternatives with a deliberately withheld dimension of information).^ The cognitive decision making processes were described through an analysis of verbal protocols produced by the subjects. Subjects' verbal reports were transcribed, unitized and categorized onto a verbal encoding grid (VREG).^ Eighteen subjects were selected from a pool of student volunteers who were enrolled in a post-masters professional diploma program in educational leadership at a private university.^ The study included three curriculum choice tasks with varying amount of information, designed to cause the subject to choose a new elective course for a secondary school. The attributes or dimensions of information related to each choice included the opinions of experts and scholars, local guidelines and syllabi, teacher competencies, classroom observational reports and student outcomes. The attributes were drawn from the Goodlad (1979) model for evaluation and decision making.^ The researcher concluded that subjects judging a simple complete curriculum task generated more cognitive decision making behaviors than subjects judging a complex curriculum task. Subjects judging a simple incomplete curriculum task generated more cognitive decision making behaviors than subjects judging a complex or simple curriculum task.^ The findings of this study suggest that cognitive decision making behavior may depend on the amount of information related to the task and the decision maker's internal representation of this task. The current study suggests the need to investigate the cognitive decision making behavior of other educators such as: teachers, administrators, supervisors and guidance counselors. Further study of students in educational administration could prove valuable if a comparative analytic investigation were done at the beginning and completion of a leadership training program.^ A close analysis of incomplete tasks should be studied in the future, in order to determine how absence of information affects the judgment of a decision maker. In addition to studying the cognitive behavior of subjects faced with making a decision with missing dimensions of information, a closer analysis of strategy comments may be worthy of investigation. The relationship between frequency and type of strategy comments when compensating for missing information may relate the decision maker's values, and belief systems as well as his ability to see educational implications of the information related to the choice. ^

Subject Area

Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

SILVERSTEIN, NATALIE ANNE, "DECISION MAKING PROCESSES USED IN CURRICULUM TASKS PERFORMED BY EDUCATORS (COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY)" (1984). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8423135.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8423135

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