- Development and Assessment of Self-Authorship: Exploring the Concept Across Cultures
Self-authorship and the developmental evolution leading to its attainment by individuals have received significant attention in constructive developmental and student affairs literature during the past 15 years. The work of Robert Kegan (1982, 1994) and Marcia B. Baxter Magolda (1992, 2001, 2009) have contributed greatly to our understanding of this important developmental capacity, and how to support development toward its achievement. This book presents a collection of papers written by self-authorship scholars for a working conference, Self-Authorship Theory Development and Assessment Across the Lifespan and Across Cultures, held in Switzerland in May 2008. These conference papers, presented as individual chapters in the book, collectively attempt to refine and extend the concept of self-authorship in three important ways. First, the book presents the most current theoretical understandings and research on self-authorship. Second, it specifically examines the influence of culture and context on self-authorship development. Lastly, it addresses current challenges and methodologies related to assessing self-authorship.
The first three chapters, presented in part 1 of the book, articulate the theoretical foundations and assumptions of self-authorship. In chapter 1, Boes, Baxter Magolda, and Buckley, utilize narratives from Boes' research and Baxter Magolda's 22-year longitudinal study to illustrate key components of self-authorship. Baxter Magolda continues in this direction in chapter 2, where she details the most current conceptualization of her theory. She centers much of her discussion on the three dimensions of self-authorship (i.e., epistemological, intrapersonal, and interpersonal) identified by Kegan, which Baxter Magolda found her research participants experienced as "How I know? Who am I? What relationships do I want?" (p. 25). Baxter Magolda contends that these dimensions/questions manifest and interact differently particular to an individual's personal or contextual characteristics resulting in multiple pathways to self-authorship.
Chapter 3 presents a developmental model of students' constructions of learning and good teaching proposed by van Rossum and Hamer based on their research on Dutch students. The authors detail how their 6-stage model of epistemology links and shares commonalities with related developmental models derived from research on U.S. participants, including Kegan's meaning-making model and Baxter Magolda's epistemological reflection and self-authorship models.
Part 2, chapters 4 through 8, examines the influences of cultural differences on the development of self-authorship. In chapter 4, Torres utilizes data from her longitudinal study of Latino/a college students to demonstrate how issues of ethnic identity interact with dimensions of self-authorship. She illustrates, through interview excerpts, how making meaning of being a minority and experiencing racism creates dissonance that can be facilitative of self-authorship development as described by Baxter Magolda. [End Page 503]
In chapter 5, Meszaros and Duncan Lane report some emerging self-authorship in adolescents based on the qualitative results of their study on academically at-risk, mostly African American, high school students enrolled in a residential youth development program.
Brownlee, Berthelsen, and Boulton-Lewis, in chapter 6, demonstrate through their study of students studying to be child care workers in Australia that students with more complex epistemological beliefs hold more sophisticated and multiple perspectives regarding how children learn. They argue that enhancing self-authorship through engaging such students in critical personal reflection may be an effective method to improve the quality of child care workers.
Chapters 7 and 8 present research that challenges the applicability of Western derived models of epistemology and self-authorship to non-Western cultures. In comparative quantitative studies of Jewish-Israeli and Bedouin-Israeli adolescents conducted by Weinstock (chapter 7) , and American and Japanese college students by Hofer (chapter 8), both found that the responses from non-Western groups were significantly more absolutist in their views of knowledge and authority. Both Bedouin and Japanese culture are more collectivist and authority based than Jewish or American culture. Weinstock and Hofer individually conclude that epistemological and self-authorship development are greatly influenced by...