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ERIC Number: ED559793
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 240
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3033-2973-9
Personal Epistemological Development of Chinese Engineering Doctoral Students in U.S. Institutions: An Application of Perry's Theory
Zhu, Jiabin
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Purdue University
The U.S. has experienced a large surge of foreign talent, as evidenced by the large number of international students enrolling each year in science and engineering fields (IIE, 2010). Among the foreign countries and economies, China ranks top in the number of doctorate degree recipients from U.S. institutions in science and engineering fields (NSF, 2010). Although prior studies have explored issues such as Chinese students' academic productivity, job satisfaction, and adjustment within U.S. institutions, little is currently known about the cognitive aspects of their academic experiences. For this reason, Perry's theory (1970), which describes college students' epistemological development from a dualistic to a constructivist view and can be grouped into four main developmental stages (i.e., "Dualism," "Multiplicity," "Relativism," and "Commitment within Relativism"), is utilized to study the epistemological development of Chinese engineering doctoral students who are pursuing degrees in U.S. institutions. An explanatory mixed methods research design (Creswell, 2008) was adopted to collect both quantitative and qualitative data from among Chinese engineering doctoral students at various stages of study from five Big Ten research universities. This research was composed of three major steps: First, an instrument that was based upon three of the four stages in Perry's theory ("Dualism," "Relativism," and "Commitment within Relativism") and validated among Chinese college students, namely, Zhang's Cognitive Development Inventory (ZCDI) (Zhang, 1995, 1997, and 2002), was modified through a process of content validity check to establish an instrument that can represent all of the four stages in Perry's theory. Second, the revised ZCDI was used to collect quantitative data from 147 Chinese engineering doctoral students about their epistemological development. The overall profiles obtained from the quantitative survey results showed that the prominent thinking styles of nearly 80% of the students fell into the higher level of thinking (i.e. "Relativism" or "Commitment within Relativism") in Perry's theory. Informed by the results of the quantitative data, nineteen students from the survey respondents representing the different epistemological developmental stages were then engaged in follow-up one-on-one interviews via a phenomenological method in an effort to understand students' perceptions of their own experiences in their own terms. Results from the qualitative data collection and analysis confirmed and refined the profiles of said students' epistemological development by the identification of practical instances of different thinking styles from the students' experiences. Factors that are potentially associated with the students' development of the higher level of thinking in Perry's theory were also explored. This research adds to the current body of knowledge in personal epistemology in several ways. First, the study provides a picture of the epistemological development of Chinese engineering doctoral students in U.S. institutions within the context of Perry's theory. Second, the focus on doctoral students allows the exploration of the higher developmental levels of Perry's theory, which was first developed among college students. Moreover, because of the emphasis on the engineering students, this study contributes to a better understanding about how engineering-specific beliefs or experiences can be incorporated into the epistemological development of foreign-born engineers by the operationalization of the thinking styles among these students. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A