On the nature of congruency and incongruency between teachers" cognitive reality and their observed behavioral reality

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1982

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Abstract

In an attempt to clarify questions dealing with the nature of congruency and incongruency between a person"s thoughts and actions, the study sought to examine and refine a synthetic theoretical framework relying on approaches used by ethnosemanticists in anthropology and phenomenological sociologists. The framework focuses on the conceptualization of cognitive reality. Cognitive reality is conceived to be the primary source of explanation of observed behavioral reality. A person"s cognitive reality is conceptualized as consisting of two types of elements or items of information: cognitive elements and sub-cognitive elements. Cognitive elements are conceived to be hierarchically structured with lower level cognitive elements providing the meaning for higher, more general level cognitive elements. The extent of relevancy of these cognitive elements for the person is indicated by sub-cognitive elements that deal with the credibility and lack of credibility of cognitive elements. The theoretical model was refined through the study of standards for student behavior (norms) in relation to two teachers in a private school setting. Methodologically, the investigator used techniques and strategies appropriate to this synthetic theoretical framework. In particular, ethnographic methodology was stressed involving concentrated observation over a three month period of time in conjunction with a variety of semi- and unstructured interviews. Data was collected and analyzed following a constant comparative approach utilizing triangulation techniques. Exemplar norms were sampled in relation to this approach Findings from this study indicated that the theoretical model is viable. Thus, a teacher"s behavior must be understood in relation to a complex configuration of different thoughts (cognitive and sub-cognitive elements). For example, it was found that the fact that a teacher cognitive element is incongruent with this teacher"s classroom behavior can be explained with reference to more relevant cognitive elements that exist at the same or higher cognitive level. Also, the methodological role that intersubjective understanding between the investigator and people being studied can play in social scientific and educational research became evident from the study. Finally, it was proposed that by gaining insights from the study, educational personnel may be better able to deal effectively with their school environments.

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Keywords

Cognition, Teachers--Attitudes, Educational psychology

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