Citation
Cognitive dissonance in post-secondary classrooms

Material Information

Title:
Cognitive dissonance in post-secondary classrooms relationships with students' attitudes toward continued learning
Creator:
Peterson, Kim M
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
280 leaves : ; 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Cognitive dissonance ( lcsh )
Education, Higher ( lcsh )
College students -- Attitudes ( lcsh )
Continuing education ( lcsh )
Cognitive dissonance ( fast )
College students -- Attitudes ( fast )
Continuing education ( fast )
Education, Higher ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 263-280).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Kim M. Peterson.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
53886875 ( OCLC )
ocm53886875
Classification:
LD1190.E3 2003d P47 ( lcc )

Full Text
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IN POST-SECONDARY CLASSROOMS
RELATIONSHIPS WITH STUDENTS ATTITUDES TOWARD
CONTINUED LEARNING
by
Kim M. Peterson
B.A., University of Utah, 1984
M.A., Brigham Young University, 1988
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Kim M. Peterson
has been approved
by
Ellen Stevens
4,

*3
/
Date


Peterson, Kim M. (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
Cognitive Dissonance in Post-Secondary Classrooms: Relationships with Students
Attitudes Toward Continued Learning
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Ellen Stevens
ABSTRACT
The relationship between adult students perceptions of dissonance and their
attitudes toward continued learning was investigated. Students dissonances were
compared with accepted dissonance research paradigms including a) Free-Choice, b)
Belief-Disconfiimation, c) Effort-Justification, d) Induced-Compliance, and e)
Psychological Discomfort. The situated dissonances associated with classes and the
contextual dissonances associated with teachers were identified and their distinct
relationships with students attitudes toward continued learning were compared.
A correlative design was used to compare students perceptions of dissonance
and their attitudes toward continued learning. The existence and amount of
dissonance was verified using variations of the Dissonance Thermometer designed to
identify students classes and teachers as the sources of dissonance. A Survey of
Attitudes Toward Continued Learning was designed to quantify students attitudes
and delineate their relationship to students perceptions of dissonance.
m


A descriptive design was used to define, identify, and enumerate the types of
dissonances experienced by students and intended by teachers. Quantitative data were
gathered within the framework of dissonance research paradigms.
Results showed a consistently negative correlation between dissonance and
students attitudes toward continued learning. The students in this study distinguished
between their classes and teachers as sources of dissonance associated with learning.
The relationship between students attitudes toward continued learning when teachers
were identified as the sources of dissonance was also significant. Students identified
teachers techniques according to the dissonance research paradigms. When
compared with teachers justifications for using dissonant teaching techniques,
students offered disparate descriptions of these dissonances. These data described a
disjointed relationship between teachers intentions to create dissonance and students
perceptions of those dissonances.
Recommendations for further research include explorations of consonant
teaching techniques, of discrepant dissonant techniques, of the effects of sources and
amounts of student perceived dissonance, and of students attitudes toward continued
learning. Potential applications for this study include teacher awareness of the types
and amounts of dissonance experienced by their students and the development of
motivational alternatives to dissonant teaching techniques. Students may also benefit
by identifying and monitoring dissonance in their educational experiences.
IV


This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed
Ellen Stevens
v


DEDICATION
This dissertation is reminiscent of teachers who gave me enough choice to
grow, enough faith to wonder, enough challenge to become strong, enough
inducements to love learning, and enough comfort to succeed. I dedicate this
dissertation to those stellar teachers in each phase of my education.
Mrs. Brittain (Momingside Elementary)
Senior Croff (Wasatch Junior High School)
Ms Hronek (Skyline High School)
Dr. Edward Kick (University of Utah)
Dr. R. Wayne Pace (Brigham Young University)
Dr. Ellen Stevens (University of Colorado at Denver)
And to many others who helped along the way:
Ms.Knudsen, Mrs. Ball, Mrs. Walker, Ms. Craig, Mrs. Degner, Mrs. Higgins, Mr.
Neeley, Mr. Jensen, Mr. Williams, Coach Thomas, Mr. Gates, Mrs. Coon, Terry
Aubrey, Steven Jones, Robert Heywood, Gerald Peterson, Mr. Pool, Dorothy and
Bob Antrum, Dr. Peterson, Dr. Sanders, Dr. Goodwin, Dr. Wilson.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I sincerely appreciate those who have made personal investments in this
process. The faculty and staff in the College of Education at the University of
Colorado at Denver have been more than patient, more than supportive, and more
than inspirational in the development of this study. The Post-Secondary Teaching and
Learning Lab have offered invaluable feedback, timely encouragement, and valuable
insights along the way.
Ellen Stevens invited me to the intellectual dance a decade ago and has
been a powerful mentor, an inspiring teacher, and a patient friend. She refined casual
musings into viable hypotheses. Her dedication to students and commitment to
learning continue to challenge and motivate me.
The work of my doctoral committee should also be mentioned. Their guidance
through this process has clarified ambiguity and allowed me to develop vagaries into
more coherent thoughts. Dr. Laura Goodwins suggestions were especially helpful.
Im grateful to the teachers and students in this study. These passionate
teachers demonstrated expertise. The students were willing to share their opinions,
and let me watch.
Mostly, I appreciate the sacrifice my wife Terri has made while Ive spent less
time with her than with my computer. Her patience is as admirable and her


companionship is priceless. My children, Bryn and Sarai, also allowed me to pursue
this dissertation at the expense of some snowboarding, movies, swim meets, and
family time. I hope this endeavor will not only make me a better father, but also a
better teacher for them.
Finally, I acknowledge the association of many exemplary teachers with
whom I am delighted to interact, and whose teaching I admire. One day, I hope to
teach as well as Lynn Cope, David Christensen, John Bytheway, Harald Harb,
Jennifer and Todd Metz, Bob Barnes, Jim Shaw, or Grant Anderson.
Thank You.


CONTENTS
Figures........................................................xix
Tables.........................................................xx
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION..................................................1
Statement of the Problem.................................. 3
Conceptual Framework.......................................6
Sources of Dissonance in Students Experience.......6
Research Strategies for Creating Dissonance.........7
The Free-Choice Paradigm.....................7
The Belief-Disconfirmation Paradigm..........8
The Effort-Justification Paradigm............8
The Induced-Compliance Paradigm..............9
Psychological Discomfort....................10
Students Attitudes Toward Continued Learning......10
Summary............................................11
Research Questions........................................13
Methodology...............................................14
Structure.................................................14
IX


2. LITERATURE REVIEW
16
A Definition of Dissonance in Adult Education................18
Effects Associated with Dissonance....................20
Some Positive Effects Associated with
Dissonance.....................................22
Some Negative Effects Associated with
Dissonance.................................... 23
The Unpredictable Nature of Dissonance in
Adult Education................................24
Students Attitudes Toward Continuing Their Education........26
Students Perceptions of Dissonance in Their
Classroom Experiences.................................31
Students Perceptions of Teachers and Teaching
Techniques............................................32
Students Perceptions of the Subject Matter...........33
Students Perceptions Content Relevance...............35
Students Perceptions of Problem-Based Curricula......38
Students Intentions to Continue Their Education......39
Conclusion............................................40
Teachers as Sources of Dissonance in Adult Education.........41
The Unintentional Conditions of Dissonance in
Adult Education.......................................45
The Intentional Use of Dissonant Techniques in
Adult Education.......................................47
x


Techniques as Foreign Inconsistencies................48
Free-Choice as a Technique....................49
Belief-Disconfirmation as a Technique.........54
Effort-Justification as a Technique...........60
Induced-Compliance as a Technique.............65
Psychological Discomfort as a Technique.......71
Conclusion.................................................75
3. METHODOLOGY....................................................77
Design.....................................................79
Subjects...................................................80
Demographic Information..............................81
Instruments................................................82
Teacher Interview Questions..........................82
The List of Dissonant Teaching Techniques............84
The Dissonance Thermometers..........................88
Distinctions Between Class and Teacher
Dissonance Thermometers.......................92
The Survey of Attitudes Toward Continued Learning...94
Interview Questions for Students.....................98
Data Collection Procedures................................100
Data Analysis Procedures..................................102
xi


Analysis of Data Related Question #1: What is the
relationship between the degree of perceived
dissonance and students attitudes toward
continued learning?.................................103
Analysis of Data Related to Question #2: What
techniques do adult educators intentionally use
to create dissonance for their students?............104
Analysis of Data Related to Question #3: Do
students distinguish between the dissonance
associated with the course and the dissonance caused
by the teachers teaching techniques?................105
Analysis of Data Related to Question #4: What is
the relationship between students perception of
dissonance and their desire to continue learning
teachers techniques are identified as the source
of dissonance?.......................................105
Summary.....................................................107
4. RESULTS.........................................................108
Question #1: Results........................................109
The Correlation of Scores on the Class Dissonance
Thermometer and the Survey of Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning...................................Ill
Responses to Student Email Questions Related
to Question #1.......................................114
Summary of Results Related to Question #1............118
Question #2: Results........................................118
Free-Choice Techniques...............................120
Belief-Disconfirmation Techniques....................122
xii


Effort-Justification Techniques.......................123
Induced-Compliance Techniques.........................124
Psychological Discomfort Techniques.... ..............125
Summary of Results Related to Question #2.............127
Question #3: Results.........................................127
Class and Teacher Dissonances Associated with
Free-Choice...........................................130
Class and Teacher Dissonances Associated with
Belief-Disconfirmation................................131
Class and Teacher Dissonances Associated with
Effort-Justification..................................134
Class and Teacher Dissonances Associated with
Induced-Compliance....................................135
Class and Teacher Dissonances Associated with
Psychological Discomfort..............................136
Summary of Results Related to Question #3.............137
Question #4: Results.........................................138
The Correlation of Scores on the Class Dissonance
Thermometer and the Survey of Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning....................................139
Results from Teachers Interviews Related to
Question #4...........................................144
Teachers Justifications for Free-Choice.......145
Teachers Justifications for Belief-
Disconfirmation ...............................147
xm


Teachers Justifications for Expecting
Student Effort.................................148
Teachers Justifications for Induced-
Compliance.....................................150
Teachers Justifications for Causing
Psychological Discomfort.......................151
Results from Student Email Interviews Related to
Question #4...........................................153
Summary of Results Related to Question #4.............155
5. DISCUSSION......................................................157
Discussion of Question #1....................................158
Students Resignation to Dissonance...................161
Resignation to Free-Choice Dissonances.........161
Resignation to Belief-Disconfirmation
Dissonances....................................162
Resignation to Effort-Justification
Dissonances....................................163
Resignation to Induced-Compliance
Dissonances....................................164
Resignation to Psychological Discomfort........166
Successful Class Dissonances..........................167
Conclusion............................................169
Discussion of Question #2....................................170
Free-Choice Techniques Defined........................170
xiv


Belief-Disconfirmation Techniques Defined............172
Effort-Justification Techniques Defined..............174
Induced-Compliance Techniques Defined................176
Psychological Discomfort Techniques Defined..........179
Dissonances Used in Concert One with Another.........181
Bipartite Dissonances.........................182
Tripartite Dissonances........................184
Quadpartite Dissonances.......................186
Quinpartite Dissonances.......................188
Conclusion...........................................189
Discussion of Question #3...................................190
Distinctions Between Class and Teacher
Dissonances..........................................190
Conclusion...........................................192
Discussion of Question #4...................................193
Free-Choice Comparisons..............................194
Belief-Disconfirmation Comparisons...................196
Effort-Justification of Comparisons..................199
Induced-Compliance Comparisons.......................201
Psychological Discomfort Comparisons.................203
Conclusion...........................................206
xv


6. IMPLICATIONS and APPLICATIONS
208
Limitations.................................................209
Dissonance as a Conceptual Framework for Research...........211
Implications of Dissonance as a Conceptual
Framework............................................214
Applications of Dissonance as a Conceptual
Framework............................................215
Consonant Teaching Techniques...............................215
Implications for Further Research on Consonant
Teaching Techniques..................................219
Applications for Consonant Teaching Techniques.......221
Teachers Dissonance Discrepancies...........................221
Implications for Further Research on Dissonance
Discrepancies........................................223
Applications for Dissonance Discrepancies............224
Sources and Amounts of Dissonance...........................225
Teachers as Sources of Dissonance....................226
Implications for Further Research on
Teachers as Sources of Dissonance.............226
Applications for Teachers as Sources of
Dissonance....................................227
Students Attitudes Toward Continued Learning...............227
Implications for Further Research on Students
Attitudes Toward Continued Learning..................228
xvi


Applications for Students Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning...................229
Conclusion................................229
APPENDIX
A. DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY..........................232
B. TECHNIQUES DERIVED FROM TEACHING
LITERATURE................................ 233
C. ORIGINAL DISSONANCE THERMOMETER.............236
D. CLASS DISSONANCE THERMOMETER................237
E. TEACHER DISSONANCE THERMOMETER..............238
F. SURVEY OF ATTITUDES TOWARD CONTINUED
LEARNING....................................239
G. TEACHERS FREE-CHOICE TECHNIQUES............240
H. TEACHERS BELIEF-DISCONFIRMATION
TECHNIQUES..................................242
I. TEACHERS EFFORT-JUSTIFICATION
TECHNIQUES..................................245
J. TEACHERS INDUCED-COMPLIANCE
TECHNIQUES..................................247
K. TEACHERSPSYCHOLOGICAL DISCOMFORT
TECHNIQUES..................................250
L. STUDENTS COMMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH
FREE-CHOICE.................................253
M. STUDENTS COMMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH
BELIEF-DISCONFIRMATION......................255
xvii


N. STUDENTS COMMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH
EFFORT-JUSTIFICATION.......................257
O. STUDENTS COMMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH
INDUCED-COMPLIANCE.........................259
P. STUDENTS COMMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH
PSYCHOLOGICAL DISCOMFORT...................261
REFERENCES........................................ 263
xvm


FIGURES
Figure
4.1 Correlation of Class Dissonance and Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning.................................................112
4.2 Correlation of Class Dissonance and Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning by Class........................................114
4.3 Correlation of Teacher Dissonance and Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning.................................................140
4.4 Correlation of Elevated Teacher Dissonance and Attitudes
Toward Continued Learning..........................................142
4.5 Correlation of Teacher Dissonance and Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning by Teacher......................................144
6.1 Attitude Emphasis..................................................212
6.2 Dissonance Emphasis................................................213
6.3 Balancing Attitudes and Dissonances................................214
xix


TABLES
Table
2.1 Free-Choice Techniques..............................................54
2.2 Belief-Disconfirmation Techniques.................................. 59
2.3 Effort-Justification Techniques.....................................64
2.4 Induced-Compliance Techniques.......................................70
2.5 Psychological Discomfort Techniques.................................74
3.1 Data Collection Strategies..........................................78
3.2 Internal Consistency for Items in the Dissonance Thermometer........90
3.3 Reliability Coefficients for the Class Dissonance Thermometer.......91
3.4 Reliability Coefficients for the Teacher Dissonance Thermometer.....91
3.5 Reliability Coefficients for the Survey of Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning..................................................98
3.6 The List of Dissonant Techniques...................................104
4.1 Estimations of Validity and Reliability for the Class Dissonance
Thermometer and the Survey of Attitudes Toward Continued
Learning...........................................................Ill
4.2 Class Rankings for Class Dissonance and Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning.................................................113
4.3 Estimations of Validity and Reliability for the Class Dissonance
Thermometer and the Teacher Dissonance Thermometer.................128
xx


4.4 Estimations of Validity and Reliability for the Teacher Dissonance
Thermometer and the Survey of Attitudes Toward Continued
Learning............................................................139
4.5 Teacher Rankings for Teacher Dissonance and Attitudes Toward
Continued Learning..................................................143
4.6 Teachers Justifications for Free-Choice Techniques.................146
4.7 Teachers Justifications for Belief-Disconfirmation Techniques......147
4.8 T eachers Justifications for the Expectation of Effort.............149
4.9 Teachers Justifications for Induced-Compliance Techniques..........150
4.10 Teachers Justifications for Causing Psychological Discomfort.......152
5.1 Statements of Resignation Associated with Belief-Disconfirmation...162
5.2 Statements of Resignation Associated with Effort-Justification......163
5.3 Statements of Resignation Associated with Induced-Compliance........165
5.4 Statements of Resignation Associated with Psychological
Discomfort..........................................................166
5.5 Positive Comments Associated with Dissonance........................168
5.6 Bipartite Dissonances...............................................183
5.7 Tripartite Dissonances..............................................185
5.8 Quadpartite Dissonances.............................................187
5.9 Components of Potential Class and Teacher Dissonances...............191
5.10 Teachers Justifications and Students Perceptions of
Free-Choice.........................................................194
5.11 Teachers Justifications and Students Perceptions of
Belief-Disconfirmation..............................................197
xxi


5.12 Teachers Justifications and Students Perceptions of
Effort Justification..................................................199
5.13 Teachers Justifications and Students Perceptions of
Induced-Compliance....................................................201
5.14 Teachers Justifications and Students Perceptions of
Psychological Discomfort..............................................204
6.1 Consonant T eaching T echniques........................................217
6.2 Teachers Dissonance Discrepancies.....................................222
XXII


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Education traditionally centers on the acquisition of knowledge and the
development of skills. Holistic education must also attend to the attitudes of
students. In this view, teachers affect more than students understanding, they
reasonably have an impact on students attitudes also. As teachers of adults attempt
to involve students in learning activities, they may simultaneously access and affect
students attitudes toward learning. This research centers on the relationship
between teaching techniques and students attitudes toward continuing their
education.
The preservation of positive attitudes toward education plays a significant
role in the success of adult educational experiences. Thus, adult educators have
searched for motivational strategies that honor subject matter while fostering the
desire for learning in their students. The motivational spectrum of adult educational
strategies describes both challenging and supportive interventions. Since students
learning preferences vary widely, strategies perceived supportive by some can be
simultaneously perceived as inane, boring, tedious, and insulting to others. On the
other hand, strategies perceived challenging by some students are simultaneously
threatening, intimidating, debilitating, and ominous to others.
1


Intentional learning represents purposeful, reasoned behavior for adults.
Both the intrinsic motivation of the adult learner and the extrinsic intentions of the
adult educator mediate the adult learning experience (Palmer, 1998; Sternberg,
1977). While adult educators have little control over students intrinsic motivations,
teachers instructional techniques may affect adult students attitudes toward
continued learning. As teachers attempt to motivate student learning, they will likely
create an antecedent psychological state for their students. For example, teachers
questions precede students compulsion to answer. The presentation of problems
precedes students drive to solve the problems. Even the reality of grades can create
an antecedent condition where students strive to earn the grade they desire. These
antecedent psychological conditions are not necessarily differentiated as positive or
negative and can accurately be described as dissonances (Elliot & Devine, 1994).
In adult learning, the intent to introduce dissonance can be manifest
implicitly in the curriculum or explicitly in teachers techniques (Joseph, 2000a).
Regardless of intent, students will feel motivated to reduce dissonance and achieve
consonance (Festinger, 1957) by using various dissonance reduction strategies
(Elliot & Devine, 1994). The dissonance reduction strategies used by students are
often associated with successful learning.
Dissonance motivates students. The motivational effects of dissonance
however, are often unpredictable. In addition to the positive learning outcomes
mentioned, dissonance can lead to misinterpretation, misperception, rejection of the
2


information, or attempts to persuade others of spurious conclusions (Harmon-Jones
& Mills, 1999). In some cases, students may not be able to resolve dissonance. In
these instances, dissonance may eventually decrease motivation for continued
learning, cause a resistance to change, or result in attempts to avoid the causes of
dissonance (Festinger, 1957).
Statement of the Problem
Since dissonance is psychologically uncomfortable, it will motivate the
person to try to reduce dissonance and achieve consonance (Chochran-Smith, 1991;
Festinger, 1957; Scher & Cooper, 1989). Students attempts to reduce dissonance
can have positive learning repercussions (Pike & Mansfield, 1996). For example,
construction of new understandings can be driven by a state of dissonance. (Brooks
& Brooks, 1993, p. 21). Some educators of adults endorse dissonance in hopes of
promoting long-term growth (Malaguzzi, 1993). By introducing tension, promoting
a psychologically aversive state, or creating disequilibrium, dissonance encourages
individuals to reconsider personal cognitions, feelings, and abilities (Brooks &
Brooks, 1993; Festinger, 1957; Wlodkowski, 1985a).
Dissonance can also preserve and instill motivation in adult learners
(Langer, 1993; Scher & Cooper, 1989; Weiner, 1994). Some educators describe
their role in motivating students to include presenting problems, posing questions
(Nicaise & Barnes, 1996), and disrupting equilibrium (Knoblauch & Brannon,
3


1993). Other teachers consider dissonance, conflict, and violation of expectations as
valuable pedagogy (Knoblauch & Brannon, 1993;Paley, 1990; Siegler, 1991).
These educators may hope that as students attempt to reduce dissonance they will
also construct new views, reconsider their beliefs, apply relevant information, or
increase their capacity to resolve problems.
While these and other desirable outcomes are possibilities, the
undifferentiated motivation that results from dissonant techniques may promote
feelings of neutrality, a desire to avoid the dissonant situation, or helplessness
(Festinger, 1957). Teaching techniques that result in neutrality, avoidance, or
helplessness may concurrently affect students attitudes toward their continued
education.
Adult students decision to continue their education is both experiential and
practical. While all education is experiential, not all experiences are educative
(Dewey, 1938b). Based on their experiences, students may decide to continue or
abort their educational endeavors (Cross, 1981). Even though education remains
viable for adults throughout adulthood (Baltes, Kliegl, & Dittmann-Kohli, 1988),
the desire to pursue educational opportunities is clearly linked to previous
educational experiences (Belanger, 1994). Unlike children, adults are the agents of
their own education (Cross, 1981). This agency is manifested in both the choice to
continue and the choice to abort education after the classroom experience has ended.
4


The intent to continue educational endeavors indicates a positive attitude toward
learning (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989; Cross, 1981).
Dissonance may account for some students decisions to abort their
education. Students who experience dissonance may avoid situations similar to ones
that caused dissonance in the past (Cooper, 1999; Festinger, 1957). Both the teacher
and the content of a course can be sources of dissonance (Chochran-Smith, 1991;
Dewey, 1938b; Lord, Lepper, & Preston, 1984; McKeachie, 1986; Wlodkowski,
1978). When course content is identified as the cause of dissonance, students will
likely avoid similar classes. Similarly, when students identify the teacher as the
source of dissonance, they will likely avoid the teachers who teach in similar
fashion (DeCharms, 1968; Sternberg, 1977).
In their attempts to motivate students to learn, teachers conceivably create
dissonance for some students. In addition to the dissonance related to the course
content, this dissonance created by the teacher may also require resolution. Students
may choose to resolve dissonance in ways that are beneficial to learning or to avoid
future similar learning situations that would promote dissonance. Simply stated, this
research will explore the relationship between students perception of dissonance
and their attitudes toward continuing their education.
5


Conceptual Framework
This study is framed within the concepts of dissonance and students attitudes.
These psychological phenomena will be identified within educational settings. The
usefulness of these findings will be described in educational applications. For the
purpose of this study, dissonance will be defined as any condition that requires
resolution by violating students expectation or by pairing discrepant cognitive
elements.
Sources of Dissonance in Students Experience
Dissonance can be classified as one of the drive theories of motivation
(Middleton & Toluk, 1999). Festinger (1957) described dissonance as follows:
Cognitive dissonance can be seen as an antecedent condition which leads to
activity oriented toward dissonance reduction just as hunger leads to activity
oriented toward hunger reduction" (p. 3).
Both the source and target of dissonance are important factors when
considering dissonance in educational settings. McGregor (1999) labeled natural
dissonance or native inconsistencies as naturally occurring inconsistencies that
are not behaviorally induced by a researcher (p. 328-329). The term foreign
inconsistencies could reasonably be used to represent dissonances intentionally
introduced by researchers or adult educators. Sources for dissonance in students
lives can be categorized as native or foreign inconsistencies. When educators
6


promote dissonance in their classrooms, they become a source of dissonance
(foreign inconsistencies) and their students inevitably become the target of
dissonance.
Research Strategies for Creating Dissonance
Techniques used by teachers to create dissonance for their students tend to
resemble strategies employed by dissonance researchers who create dissonance for
subjects in laboratory settings. Strategies for creating dissonance include a) the
Free-Choice Paradigm, b) the Belief-Disconfirmation Paradigm, c) the Effort-
Justification Paradigm, and d) the Induced-Compliance Paradigm (Harmon-Jones &
Mills, 1999). Current research on dissonance also includes psychological discomfort
as an accurate paradigm for dissonance research (Elliot & Devine, 1994). Following
is a list of dissonant techniques espoused by educators and categorized by their
comparative dissonant research paradigm respectively.
The Free-Choice Paradigm. Increased autonomy promotes dissonance
(Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999). As the number or difficulty of choices increase,
students autonomy to resolve choices will give rise to dissonant cognitions. The
Free-Choice Paradigm proposes that difficult decisions arouse more dissonance than
easy decisions. Similarly, some teachers suggest difficult learning situations
involving traumatic experience, disturbing problems, and embarrassment can
enhance the learning process (Dewey, 1938a; McCormick, 1990). When adult
7


educators promote difficulty in decision making, students dissonance will likely
increase.
The Belief-Disconfirmation Paradigm. Beliefs are susceptible to dissonance
(Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999). The Belief -Disconfirmation Paradigm suggests that
dissonance is aroused when people are exposed to information that is inconsistent
with their beliefs. Some adult educators attempt to create learning communities that
value criticism, controversy, and belief revision (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1992).
Johnson, Kelly, and LeBlanc (1995 ) endorse teachers agreeing with students
counter-attitudinal arguments as a valuable teaching technique. Similarly,
dissonance is promoted when teachers introduce contradictory or disturbing data,
play devil's advocate to motivate students to reflect on their responses (Wlodkowski,
1978), invite students to read conflicting accounts (Frager & Thompson, 1985), or
expose students to conflicting information (Hirumi & Bermudez, 1996) in an
attempt to encourage learning.
The Effort-Justification Paradigm. The expenditure of effort creates a need
to justify the effort (Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999). As the amount of effort
increases, dissonance will also increase. The Effort-Justification Paradigm suggests
that dissonance is aroused when an individual is involved in an unpleasant or
strenuous activity to achieve a desirable goal. Some teachers of adults attempt to
permit a humane degree of student mistakes and frustrations in hopes of motivating
students to find their own answers and resolutions (Wlodkowski, 1978). Other adult
8


educators strive to make learning effortful in an overt attempt to promote dissonance
(Hughes, 1983). In these cases, learning (a desirable outcome) is promoted by
increased effort (an unpleasant activity for some students). As the effort required for
success increases, students ability to control and predict the success of their
education will decrease (Koschmann, Myers, Feltovich, & Barrows, 1994). For
example, as the volume of educational project work increases, as tests become more
strenuous, and as assignments increase in intensity, students tolerance for new
information may decrease. This antecedent condition will require students to resolve
the conflict between the effort required and the desirability of learning.
The Induced-Compliance Paradigm. Rewards encourage dissonance
(Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999). The Induced-Compliance Paradigm suggests that
dissonance is aroused when an individual says or does something that is inconsistent
with their extant personal attitudes or beliefs because of some inducement. Teachers
can increase dissonance by eliciting supporting explanations for concepts that are
inconsistent with students' beliefs (Frager & Thompson, 1985) and by encouraging
students to think more complexly (Brown & Campione, 1996, p. 15). Considering
opposite possibilities and alternate explanations (Lord et al., 1984) or creating
incongruity based on critical perspective (Chochran-Smith, 1991) will also create
dissonance for some learners. As teachers elicit, encourage, and support these
activities, students may feel compelled to comply. This compulsion will result in
dissonant cognitions.
9


Psychological Discomfort. Psychological discomfort also describes
antecedent techniques that compel students to seek resolution. When viewed as
psychological discomfort (Elliot & Devine, 1994), dissonance describes multiple
techniques espoused by adult educators including the violation of self-concept
(Aronson, 1997) and unconventionality (Frager & Thompson, 1985; Wlodkowski,
1978). Galbraith (1992) encourages teachers to instill tentativeness in students to
promote genuine questions. As teachers intentionally introduce these potentially
uncomfortable psychological states, students will naturally feel compelled to resolve
their discomfort. To the degree adult educators advocate these discomforts, they
simultaneously incite dissonance for some students.
This list of dissonant techniques demonstrates the prevalence of practices
designed to introduce dissonance into the adult learning experience. This list also
indicates a relationship between techniques endorsed by adult educators and extant
dissonance research paradigms. Each of these paradigms for creating dissonance
will be explored extensively in Chapter 2.
Students Attitudes Toward Continued Learning
Dissonance affects attitudes (Bern, 1965; DeCharms, 1968). Students
attitudes have affective, cognitive, and behavioral antecedents (Scher & Cooper,
1989). When faced with behaviors, knowledge, information, contexts, or situations
inconsistent with extant attitudes, students will work to resolve the inconsistency.
10


These inconsistencies describe the parameters of dissonance (Stone, 1999).
Resolutions of these inconsistencies may simply require changing the attitude that is
inconsistent with behavior (Edwards, 1990). Since attitude changes are not all
positive, some students may experience the degradation of their attitudes toward
continued education as a result of dissonance. Students educational experiences
mediate their desire to continue learning (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993).
Students may never explicitly recognize the impact of dissonance on their
motivation to continue or discontinue their education. Instead, students tend to infer
their attitude from their behavior (Bern, 1965). If students find themselves engaging
in dissonance reduction activities, they may infer that they have a negative attitude
toward continuing their education. Conversely, students who successfully mediate
dissonance in their educational experience may infer that they have a positive
attitude toward continuing their education. Students can also change their attitudes
to be consistent with their behavior (Edwards, 1990). In these scenarios, students
who discontinue their education may also change their attitude toward education.
This malleable component of attitudes suggests that attitudes change to
accommodate students experience.
Summary
If students have negative educational experiences, they will likely have
negative attitudes toward continuing their education (Wlodkowski, 1985b).
11


Consequently, some adult educators promote the importance of positive affective
outcomes in teaching (Cannon & Simpson, 1985; Edwards, 1990; Estrada, Isen, &
Young, 1994). Positive affect, however, is fragile (Cooper, 1999). Students who
experience a decrease in positive affect will also experience an increase in
dissonance. If education is disproportionately geared toward positive affect,
desirable aspects of dissonant teaching may be ignored (Isen, Nygren, & Ashby,
1988). Imbalanced applications of positive affect can even cause students to suspect
the attitudes inferred from their own behavior (Lord et al., 1984). While challenge,
difficulty, exertion, may cause dissonance for some students; these cognitions may
actually increase the value of the task for others (Pintrich, 1989). Clearly, a balance
between dissonance and positive affect is preferable to maintain and bolster
students attitudes toward continued learning.
Dissonance is both an existential and contextual phenomenon. Subsequently,
the relationship between dissonance and students attitudes is unpredictable. Since
education will always remain the authentic interplay of free personalities (Kneller,
1962, p. 297), and students experience dissonance in an unpredictable educational
environment (Holt, 1996), students individual abilities to resolve dissonance may
relate to their desire to continue learning. When added to the native inconsistencies
associated with learning inconsistencies, foreign inconsistencies intentionally
introduced by teachers increase the likelihood of dampening students attitudes
12


toward continuing their education. Quite possibly, teacher imposed dissonance may
be the proverbial straw that breaks the attitudinal back of some students.
Research Questions
The unpredictable nature of dissonance presents a problem for adult
educators: when is it appropriate to use dissonant techniques in an attempt to instill
motivation in adult learners? The relationship between students attitudes toward
their continued education and the dissonance they experience as part of education
defines each of the following research questions:
1. What is the relationship between the degree of perceived dissonance and
students attitudes toward continued learning?
2. What techniques are intentionally used by adult educators to create
dissonance for their students?
3. Do students distinguish between the dissonance associated with the course
and the dissonance caused by the teachers teaching techniques?
4. What is the relationship between students perception of dissonance and
their desire to continue learning when teachers techniques are identified as
the source of dissonance?
13


Methodology
This descriptive study is correlational. The identification of relationships
between dissonance and adult students attitudes toward continued learning requires
the recognition of dissonance in adult students, the identification of teachers intent
to use dissonance as a teaching technique, and the comparison of students attitudes
toward continued learning. This examination of relationships will employ survey,
observation, and interview techniques. The identification of dissonance in adult
students will rely on questionnaires and interview questions constructed from
accepted descriptions of dissonance. The identification of teachers intent to use
dissonance will involve an examination of their proposed techniques and matching
those techniques to accepted methods for inducing dissonance in research subjects.
In order to demonstrate both the existence of dissonance and its relationship to
students attitudes toward continued learning, qualitative and quantitative data will
be used.
Structure
Chapter 1 has described the purpose for this study, introduced a conceptual
framework, briefly reviewed the background information for the study, and
identified the research questions. Chapter 2 will explore the relevant literature and
develops operational definitions. Chapter 3 will delineate the methodology
including the design, instrumentation, procedures, and analysis for this study.
14


Chapter 4 will presents the findings. Chapter 5 will discuss the findings to the
research questions. Chapter 6 presents the implications and potential applications of
the findings.
15


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
Lifelong learning represents purposeful, reasoned behavior for adults. Both
the intrinsic motivation of the adult learner and the extrinsic intentions of the adult
educator mediate the attitudes of adult learners toward their learning experiences
(Greeno, 1997; Malone, 1981; Middleton & Toluk, 1999). Adult students attitudes
toward continuing learning can be influenced by teachers methodologies (Check,
1986; Greenwald & Gillmore, 1997b; Harmon-Jones, 1999; Weiner, 1994). While
the distinction between learners intrinsic and extrinsic motivation may not be
useful (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989), students perceptions of formal learning
experiences are frequently associated with the decision to continue learning
(Boulton-Lewis, Wills, & Mutch, 1996; Bravmann, 2000; Middleton & Toluk,
1999).
Lifelong learning is inherently tied to a redefinition of non-neutrality
(Belanger, 1994). In other words, students must continually be involved in refining
and redefining their knowledge. Discomfort urges students to move from neutrality
to commitment (Pike & Mansfield, 1996). While discomfort may be a necessary
part of learning, too much discomfort may also result in emotions averse to the
continuation of learning (Deffenbacher, 1978). Traditionally, the affective
16


component of attitudes has included emotions, feelings, or drives associated with an
attitude object (Edwards, 1990).
When learning is the attitude object, teachers intentions to create discomfort
for their students may cause students to become confused about intent of the
discomfort (Boler, 1997). Some educators perceive teaching as inclusive of the
responsibility to present problems, pose question (Nicaise & Barnes, 1996), and
disrupt equilibrium (Knoblauch & Brannon, 1993). Other teachers consider
dissonance, conflict, and violation of expectations as valuable pedagogy (Knoblauch
& Brannon, 1993; Paley, 1990; Siegler, 1991). Confrontational teaching techniques
can promote dissonance in learners (Hirumi & Bermudez, 1996; Hughes, 1983; Pike
& Mansfield, 1996). These methodologies may motivate students to participate but
result in the degradation of students attitudes toward continuing their education.
Students relate emotionally, as well as intellectually, to subject matter
(Mcniel, 1981) and respond to discomfort both rationally and emotionally. While
inconsistencies, intentionally introduced, can affect more than students attitudes
(Scher & Cooper, 1989), emotional responses are characterized by more extreme
disequilibria and are more difficult to resolve (Gorsky & Finegold, 1994).
Understandably, these traumatic experiences may have an impact on students
attitudes toward similar activities (McCormick, 1990; Middleton & Toluk, 1999).
An increased understanding of the parameters and effects of dissonance may
promote a more careful and thoughtful application of dissonant techniques. This
17


review of literature will explore the relationship between students attitude toward
continuing their education and the foreign inconsistencies they encounter as a part
of their learning experience.
A Definition of Dissonance in Adult Education
Dissonance describes states of inconsistency, incongruity, and discomfort.
Outside the realm of the social-behavioral sciences, dissonance is used frequently as
a musical term to denote tones that require resolution or produce a disagreeable
effect (Apel, 1977; Baker, 1978). The need for resolution is a common theme in
definitions of dissonance. In adult education, the need for resolution or dissonance
reduction is associated with a student motivation (Hughes, 1983; Johnson et al.,
1995; Littlejohn, 1983; Scher& Cooper, 1989; Zimbardo, 1969).
Cognitive dissonance is perhaps the form of dissonance most familiar to the
discipline of education. In its simplicity, cognitive dissonance explains the
compulsion humans feel to reconcile the tension that results from a violation of
expectations or pairing discrepant elements. Cognitive dissonance was described by
Festinger (1957) as an antecedent condition which leads to activity oriented toward
dissonance reduction just as hunger leads to activity oriented toward hunger
reduction (p. 3). Festingers definition couples hunger and hunger reduction as
18


cognitive elements:
Dissonance is not anything which exists all by itself. It is a
characterization of a relationship between cognitive elements. Thus,
determining whether or not dissonance exists should take the form of
first specifying the cognitive elements, or clusters, which are under
consideration and then examining whether, considering either one
alone, the obverse follows. (Festinger, 1957, p. 279)
Festinger does not appear to have used the term obverse in accord with the
dictionary definition (Mills, 1999). Instead, dissonance seems to represent a
psychological state that requires dissonance reduction. Littlejohn (1983)
summarizes dissonance as tension or stress that pressures the individual to change
so that the dissonance is thereby reduced" (p. 150).
More recently, dissonance has been described as psychological discomfort
(Devine, Tauer, Barron, Elliot, & Bance, 1999; Elliot & Devine, 1994). This broad
view of dissonance includes the affirmation that dissonance is an affective state
(DeCharms, 1968) and will dissipate after a dissonance-reduction strategy is
implemented (Devine et al., 1999). This psychological discomfort differs from
discomfort per se. Cooper (1999) suggests that "...dissonance is a process that is
aroused in all people wherever they are responsible for bringing about an aversive
consequence" (p. 155). Simply stated, when an individual feels hunger, activities
that lead to hunger reduction would be expected; when the individual feels hunger
but does not engage in the activities of hunger reduction, cognitive dissonance
would occur.
19


An operational definition of dissonance in adult education must include
more than the traditional view of cognitive dissonance. Since Festingers original
treatise, authors have broadened the application of dissonance to include conflicting
ideas (Frager & Thompson, 1985), counter-attitudinal behavior, inconsistent
cognitions (Johnson et al., 1995), cognitive discomfort (Pike & Mansfield, 1996),
and cognitive disequilibria (Wlodkowski, 1985a). For the purpose of this study,
dissonance will be defined as any condition that requires resolution by violating
students expectation or pairing discrepant cognitive elements. This definition is not
only inclusive of traditional notions of cognitive dissonance but also broader
schema that include, confusion, controversy, negative affect, confrontation, and
criticism.
Effects Associated with Dissonance
Dissonance is a cognitive state, but not all consequences of dissonance are
cognitive. The potential discomfort, tension, stress, and negative affect that result
from dissonance could affect students emotions, self-esteem, performance,
satisfaction, and efficacy (Amey, 1990; Aronson, 1997; Pintrich & Schunk, 1996;
Wicklund, 1976). Indeed, dissonance affects a broad range of human responses
including tension (Napier & Gershenfeld, 1973), behavioral change (Scher &
Cooper, 1989), and the ability to make practical applications (Bogart, Geis, Levy, &
Zimbardo, 1969).
20


The potential effects of dissonance exceed the cognitive domain (Scher &
Cooper, 1989). A tripartite representation of students needs is frequently found in
the corpus of teaching literature. Cognitive, psychomotor, and affective categories
can be found in theoretical models, research, instruments, textbooks, and literature
attempting to describe students. Veal and Compagnone (1995) fashion a description
of students perceptions of effort and skill around physical, affective, and cognitive
categories. Pintrich and Schunk (1996) distinguished between cognitive and
affective self-judgments of students performance as they relate to self-esteem and
the cognitive, motivational, and behavioral aspects of students tasks. Eagly and
Chaiken (1993) conclude that there are cognitive, affective, and behavioral
evaluations of attitude. Subsequently, they define the cognitive category as thought,
the affective category as feelings, and the behavioral category as actions. Rosenberg
and Hovland (1960) also describe the cognitive, affective, and behavioral
components of attitudes. Knowles (1980) identifies knowledge, attitudes, and skills
as possible behavioral changes that can result from training.
Dissonance potentially affects cognitive, affective and psychomotor states.
Middleton (1999) notes that affective reactions resulting from dissonance may be
considered relevant information when making judgments. Students seem to respond
to dissonance both rationally and emotionally (Gorsky & Finegold, 1994).
Dissonance can also cause students to become bewildered or angry (Joseph, 2000b).
21


Consideration of the potentially universal consequences of dissonance illustrates the
potency of dissonance as a motivation in adult education.
Some Positive Effects Associated with Dissonance. While dissonance is by
definition uncomfortable, some deem the effects of dissonance worth the
momentary discomfort. Dissonance partially mediates epistemic rigidity (McGregor
et al., 1999). As was stated earlier, lifelong learning requires a commitment to non-
neutrality. Similarly, Hih (1998) notes that inquiry is important to successful
lifelong learning. Fear may also be useful in learning (Palmer, 1998). In fact, the
fear of dissonance may lead to reluctance to commit oneself (Festinger, 1957; Mills,
1999). This reluctance can be useful in adult education:
Change, not stasis, is the condition of life: the instructional
challenge, accordingly, is not to force open obstinately closed minds
but to intervene creatively in processes of change that are already
underway, making use of the intellectual disequilibrium that the
university can foster in the interest of learning (Knoblauch &
Brannon, 1993, p. 13).
Accordingly, students attempts to resolve disequilibrium are powerful
learning experiences (Scher & Cooper, 1989). Aronson (1999) associates this
dissonance reduction with self-justification that renegotiates newly acquired
knowledge. Without this renegotiation, students may fail to connect newly acquired
knowledge as a valuable part of problem solving (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989;
Dominowski, 2002). When students engage in the activities of dissonance reduction,
they practice new standards of conduct (Aronson, Cohen, & Nail, 1999). These
22


positive effects of dissonance justify the use of dissonant techniques for some
teachers.
Some Negative Effects Associated with Dissonance. In addition to the
positive effects of dissonance, dissonance can result in negative consequences.
Dissonance violates students extant preferences and commitments (Zimbardo,
1969). A dissonant approach to adult education includes introducing students to
unwanted information, activities, and situations (Cooper, 1999). As stated earlier,
teachers may allow for aversion in the hope that dissonance reduction will produce
more desirable outcomes. For some students, however, this aversion may result in
avoidance of the information, situation, or persons associated with dissonance
(Cooper, 1999; DeCharms, 1968; Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999; Littlejohn, 1983).
Some of the emotional effects of dissonance have already been presented in
this chapter. Other negative affects include bewilderment, anger (Joseph, 2000b),
and tension (Frager & Thompson, 1985). Sometimes dissonance can lead to extreme
disequilibrium including despair, rejection, and skepticism, (Gorsky & Finegold,
1994). While some of these emotions may promote a curiosity or desire for
resolution, these emotions may also cause students to become defensive and
resistant to learning (Argyris, 1994).
Some adults may actually conclude that they are unable to learn because
they are unable to resolve dissonance (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule,
1997; Dominowski, 2002). These failures will be particularly distressing to students
23


who expect learning to be associated with failure avoidance. In these situations,
students may become preoccupied with avoiding failure instead of being
preoccupied with learning (Covington, 1999). The failure to reconcile their
dissonant experiences may simply cause students to resort to coping tactics that
have little to do with learning (Chan, Burtis, & Bereiter, 1997).
Those who persist in learning, in spite of their failures, may adopt relativistic
thinking (Brooks & Brooks, 1993; Frager & Thompson, 1985), attempt to justify
conclusions by soliciting support from others (Chan et al., 1997; Harmon-Jones,
1999), come to believe that problems require bizarre solutions (Dominowski, 2002),
or twist information to fit with extant beliefs (Chan et al., 1997). Students who
advocate behavior that is inconsistent with their private beliefs will not be as
motivated by dissonance (Bogart et al., 1969).
These associations with dissonance may taint the application of information
in other situations. For example, collaboration may be hindered because of
dissonance (Malaguzzi, 1993; Pike & Mansfield, 1996). Students who regularly
experience dissonance will not only try to integrate incongruities that they encounter
but they may seek to create incongruities if there are none readily available (Lepper,
Keavney, & Drake, 1996). These negative effects of dissonance certainly mitigate
the value of dissonance as a panacea for motivating students.
The Unpredictable Nature of Dissonance in Adult Education. Students learn
individually; no two students claim the same learning experience (Bravmann, 2000;
24


Cross, 1981; Dominowski, 2002). Similarly, teachers teach individually (Pintrich,
1989; Sternberg, 1977). Even similar learning experiences will produce different
knowledge acquisition across learners (Reynolds, Sinatra, & Jetton, 1996). The
effects of dissonance are also disparate for adult students. Since students vary in
their behavioral commitment and resistance to change (Hughes, 1983), they will
also vary in their susceptibility to dissonance. Similarly, students may not always be
mystified by what they don't know and may be unable to perceive meaningful
conflict (Chan et al., 1997; Scher & Cooper, 1989).
The effects of dissonance on learning are unpredictable (Holt, 1996). There
is no hard evidence that a certain stimulus always produces a predicted affect
(DeCharms, 1968). In order to effectively apply the techniques of dissonance,
teachers would not only need to identify discrepant elements, they would also have
to predict the degree of dissonance produced by the elements (Harmon-Jones, 1999;
Middleton & Toluk, 1999). Similarly, an imbalance between cognitive elements
produces pressure toward change. This pressure may invoke a change where no
change is needed or desired (Heider, 1958). Wlodkowski (1985a) suggests that the
essential functional need that motivates us is cognitive disequilibrium (p. 168).
That disequilibrium, however, is unpredictable and will cause students to alter their
cognitive structures in unpredictable ways (Burbules & Linn, 1988).
25


Students Attitudes Toward Continuing Their Education
Attitudes are psychological tendencies that are expressed by evaluating
behaviors with favor or disfavor (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Understandably,
students decisions to pursue learning suggest favorable evaluations of prior
learning experiences. Affective concerns and behavioral pre-dispositions are also
manifest in students attitudes (Millar & Millar, 1990; Poison, 1994). Students
evaluations, affect, and behavioral pre-dispositions play a critical role in
determining whether or not students will engage in learning. The success of learning
is mediated by students attitudes toward learning (Boulton-Lewis et al., 1996).
Attitudes are explicitly tied to motivation (Wlodkowski, 1985b). In other words,
attitudes enable evaluation of a behavior and motivations provide the impetus to act
according to that evaluation (Olson & Zanna, 1993; Pintrich, 1989; Schuette &
Fazio, 1995). Eagly and Chaiken (1993) surmise, ...motives energize and direct
attitudinal functioning (p. 22).
There are cognitive, affective and behavioral components of attitudes
(Schuette & Fazio, 1995). In other words, attitudes are composed of thoughts,
feelings, and actions (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). The behavioral component of
attitudes emerges reflexively as students observe and define behavior (Palmer,
1998) and even each other (Middleton & Toluk, 1999). Bern (1965) suggests that
motivation can be attributed individually much like a man who eats brown bread
regularly and subsequently concludes that he likes brown bread.
26


Students may infer their attitudes about learning from their learning
behaviors. For example, students who fail will likely use failure-avoiding tactics.
(Olson & Zanna, 1993; Pintrich, 1989). It would logically follow that students who
engage in failure avoidance would conclude that they dont like the activities that
result in failure. Affective components can also be described as cognitive structures
that frame the decision to continue learning (Middleton & Toluk, 1999; Olson &
Zanna, 1993).
Students emotions also mediate between causal thinking and action; how
we think determines how we feel (Weiner, 1994). Fear, enjoyment, and desire are
three affective components of students attitudes. Fear is stronger influence on
attitudes than on behavior (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Learning that is fim is more
likely to be continued (Belanger, 1994; Cross, 1981). Dewey (1938b) considered
students desire to learn as the moving spring of education (p. 70). Similarly,
Wlodkowski (1985a) concludes that if anything can be learned, it can be learned in
a motivating manner (p. 13). These emotions are intricately tied to students
attitudes toward learning.
Not only do students attitudes impact learning, learning affects attitudes. In
fact, changes in attitude may be important indicators of learning (Dewey, 1938b;
Ford, 1994; Knowles, 1980). This reciprocity in students learning experiences
illustrates the connection between attitudes and motivations. One of the assumptions
of andragogy (adult learning theory) is that adults are motivated to learn (Beaudin &
27


Williams, 1990; Knowles, 1980). DeCharms (1968) boldly concludes however, that
motivation is a concept invented to help understand behavior and is not forced on
students by empirical observations or experimental data. It would be naive to
conclude that an enhanced understanding of students motives and attitudes would
guarantee that teachers could motivate students and cause positive attitudes.
Regardless of their origin, motivations and attitudes are important considerations
when teaching adults (Dalellew & Martinez, 1988).
Students typically have more than one reason to engage in learning (Cross,
1981). Not only do students learn disparately, they also espouse disparate attitudes
toward shared learning experiences (Pintrich, 1989). These attitudes are both
constructed and existential (Honebin, Duffy, & Fishman, 1993). Even knowledge is
individualistic, modifiable, and situated (Alexander, 1996; Lave & Wenger, 1991).
Students form attitudes from their learning experiences and use those attitudes as a
way to decide whether or not to engage in similar learning activities in the future
(Como & Mandinach, 1983; Dewey, 1938b; Middleton & Toluk, 1999; Rose,
1995).
Students experiences can contribute profoundly to the educational process
(Dewey, 1938b; Gilbert, 1989; Inagaki & Hatano, 1977). Inagaki (1977) concluded,
Experiential learning is described not as what happens to us but rather what we did
with something that happened to us (p. 418). Experiential learning incorporates the
current experience of the student and draws generalizations that transfer learning
28


beyond that immediate experience (Seeman, 1988). This powerful classroom
technique accesses both the motivations and attitudes of the students by allowing
students to re-generalize previous conclusions based on new experiences (Brooks &
Brooks, 1993). Students experiences with learning can work similarly to promote
attitudes toward future learning. In fact, the amount of knowledge acquired from
experiential sources exceeds the knowledge obtained in formal educational
situations (Harris, 1989).
Students learn experientially with or without explicit intent (Hsu, 1989).
Prior experience with subject matter can influence students attitudes toward subject
matter (Simpson & Oliver, 1985), application of new skills (Dweck, 1986), and
attitudes toward leaning (Belanger, 1994). Both experiences extrinsic to formal
education and the experiences of education contribute to students attitudes toward
continuing their education (Alexander, 1996). Subsequently, students use
knowledge from the past to work out dilemmas they face in the present (Como &
Mandinach, 1983; Paley, 1990). Obviously, some students experiences can impede
their learning (Poison, 1994). Good teaching promotes lifelong learning. (Wankat &
Oreovicz, 1988).
Students motivations to continue education can be intrinsic or extrinsic
(Covington, 1999; Greeno, 1997). Malone (1981) suggests that intrinsic motivations
can be described as curiosity, challenge, or fantasy. By comparison, preparation for
a career is the most prevalent extrinsic motivation for the pursuit of a college
29


education (Belanger, 1994; Cross, 1981; Fardanesh, 1983; Valentine, 1997).
Commitment to lifelong learning seems to transcend education that is imposed on
students. Cross (1981) defines lifelong learning as a phenomenon that results from
the fact that adults are the agents of their own education. Students choice to
continue learning results from their perception of the value of that learning
(Middleton & Toluk, 1999). Lifelong learning is therefore a cumulative decision:
those who choose to continue their education tend to be those who had better and
longer initial education (Belanger, 1994). The most elevated purpose for learning is
to encourage a love for learning now and for a lifetime. Love of learning is
embodied in intellectual autonomy, becoming intellectually independent and
declaring personal freedom from ones intellectual environment (Covington, 1999;
Zimbardo, 1969).
In the following sections, students attitudes toward continuing their
education will be explored in light of their perceptions of dissonance, their
perceptions of techniques used by their teachers, and their perceptions of the subject
matter. Finally, students intent to continue their education will be discussed as an
indicator of their attitudes toward continuing their education.
30


Students Perceptions of Dissonance in Their Classroom
Experiences
Many teachers feel compelled to create dissonance in order to motivate
students to learn (Cross, 1981). Dissonance categorizes learning experiences and
may cause an emotion to be associated with a similar activity in the future
(Middleton & Toluk, 1999). This categorization may actually encourage students to
avoid similar experiences (Cooper, 1999; Festinger, 1957). In this way, dissonance
may covertly affect students attitudes toward continuing their education when they
perceive that continuing their education will promote dissonance.
Dissonance in the classroom takes many forms including, but not limited to,
the following:
1. Tension (Napier & Gershenfeld, 1973).
2. Pressure to change (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993; Mikel, 2000)
3. Ambivalence (Napier & Gershenfeld, 1973).
4. Force (Kneller, 1962).
5. Provocation (Wlodkowski, 1978).
6. Inducement (Windshitl & Joseph, 2000).
Each of these manifestations of dissonance, and the techniques used to produce
them, will be discussed in later sections of this chapter. Teacher imposed
dissonances are likely to affect students attitudes. Students may even associate the
desirability of a class with teachers teaching techniques (Check, 1986). In an
31


attempt to reduce dissonance students may change their attitude about the
desirability of education (DeCharms, 1968; Scher & Cooper, 1989).
Students Perceptions of Teachers and Teaching
Techniques
Adults learn differently from children and require different teaching
techniques (Knowles, 1980). Wooden (1994) suggests that adults come to
educational settings with diverse life experiences, need challenges to both cognitive
and affective domains, seek to find meaning in experiences, and search out practical
applications. Some commonly held beliefs about adult learning include notions that
adults perceive learning as essentially joyful, that adult learners are innately self-
directed, that there is a unique adult learning style, and that there is a unique adult
teaching style (Brookfield, 1992). Obviously, not all students hold the same beliefs.
Teachers can have an impact on students attitudes toward learning.
Students attitudes toward courses are largely affected by their perceptions of the
teacher who teaches them (Check, 1986; Hamachek, 1985). Similarly, students can
be generally satisfied with content but disappointed with teachers' techniques
(Check, 1986). From the students perspective, teacher effectiveness is commonly
associated with the warmth they display to students, the use of lecture coupled with
discussion, speaking to students (as oppose to speaking at students), and good
testing (Dominowski, 2002; Wankat & Oreovicz, 1988). Buoyancy, pleasantness
32


and friendliness are also characteristics associated with teachers' effectiveness (Barr,
1960). Teacher enthusiasm seems to encourage positive attitudes toward subject
matter (Covington, 1999). Even the way teachers think affects students motivations
to learn (Singer, 1996).
Much of schooling is comprised of teachers imposing activities on students
(Honebin et al., 1993). These impositions can influence how students learn in the
classroom. .(Como & Mandinach, 1983). Students consequently hold teachers
responsible for the effects of classroom activities. Demonstrations, time saving
techniques, explicit expectations, visual presentations, a relaxed atmosphere, and
working with same-level learners are all desirable techniques for adult learners
(Thibodeau, 1980). Students expect teachers to sort and prioritize the information
presented in the classroom (Covington, 1999). These, and other, techniques can
impact not only students learning success, but also their attitudes toward learning.
Students Perceptions of the Subject Matter
Aside from students perceptions of the teacher and the classroom
experience, the subject matter can affect students attitudes toward continued
learning. Students can dissociate their satisfaction with content from their
dissatisfaction with a teacher (Check, 1986). Appreciation for the subject can
nonetheless offset other disappointments in students learning experiences
(Covington, 1999). Adult students can experience conflict between an achievement
33


orientation and their desire to like the subject (Covington, 1999; Rau & Heyl, 1990).
Dewey (1938b) noted that the content of learning could exceed students grasp. In
these cases teachers actively mediate between learners and content" (Joseph,
2000b, p. 59).
Students also seem to learn only those things they want to learn and will
have great difficulty learning material in which they are not interested (McKeachie,
1986). Cross (1981) notes that between 1969 and 1975 the greatest growth by
subject area occurred in social life and recreation followed by personal and family
living. Apparently, this growth indicates adult learners preference for content
related to leisure, social, and family activities. Not surprisingly, liking the subject
matter and interest in further study are correlated with positive student course
ratings (Greenwald & Gillmore, 1997b). While teachers regulate the depth and
breadth of content presented it is clear that there should be a balance between a
constant bombardment of stimuli and rigid structure (Scardamalia, Bereiter,
McLean, Swallow, & Woodruff, 1989).
Extrinsic rewards may actually sabotage students perception of subject
matter. The pursuit of grades and development of an interest in course material are
not necessarily compatible (Dominowski, 2002). However, when extrinsic rewards
are removed, both learning and subject matter appreciation will wane (Covington,
1999).
34


Optimal engagement in learning relies on a match between students
abilities, the learning contexts, and the subject matter (Honebin et al., 1993). In an
effort to bolster students perceptions of the subjects taught in school, Belanger
(1997) calls for a shift in both contents and contexts:
There is a need for a different quality and content of adult education,
which signals a generic and paradigmatic shift from education to
learning and from single to differentiated learning contexts. New
information and communication technologies can change the way
education is organized. Instead of a supply-led and heavily
institutionalized system, the new conditions allow for a demand-led
approach, where motivated learners can obtain the education they
desire for diverse sources and in ways they themselves plan" (p. 14).
This shift would align school learning with knowledge necessary for life outside of
school. Conceivably, this demand-led approach would encourage the pursuit of
learning even after the culmination of a class.
Students Perceptions of Content Relevance
The relevance of the subject matter mediates the likelihood of pursuing
additional education. Adult students operate from a larger experience base than
children (Knowles, 1980). This experience base serves to evaluate the relevance of
any new information encountered by the student. "Experience and education cannot
be directly equated to each other for some experiences are mis-educative" (p. 25)
(Dewey, 1938b). Relevant curricula emphasize personal growth, integrity,
autonomy, and unique meaning (Petrina, 1992). Relevant content initiates learning
35


experiences for adults (Petrina, 1992). Content is more meaningful when teachers
and students relate it to familiar information (Reigeluth, 1983). In this way, teachers
are responsible for presenting information in language that is relevant to students
(Dominowski, 2002; Hirumi & Bermudez, 1996; Langer, 1993).
There is a potential conflict when teachers attempt to impose information on
students that is relevant to the teacher but not to students. Teachers teach in a variety
of ways. Teachers determine what students should learn, but dont necessarily
determine what students want to learn (Dominowski, 2002). Because teachers are
essentially subject matter experts, they tend to focus their attention on the content
that they understand or deem important (Svinicki & Dixon, 1987). Teachers
content emphases may actually alienate their students.
Students perceptions of content relevance describe their attitudes toward the
subject matter. For example, students are more motivated to perform on tasks that
are "self-relevant" (p. 93) (Como & Mandinach, 1983). The adult students
knowledge base is in some ways a scaffold that supports the constmction of all
future learning (Alexander, 1996; Fenwick & McMilan, 1992). Content relevance is
associated with students attitudes in the following ways:
1. Adults learn more readily in situations derived from real problems (Veri &
Haar, 1970).
2. Students are motivated to solve relevant problems (Wlodkowski, 1978).
36


3. A paucity of relevant activities in learning situations can hinder learning
(Thibodeau, 1980).
4. Long-term engagement in a task is related to students perception of the
tasks usefulness (Wigfield & Eccles, 1992).
A holistic view of learning includes engaging students in activities that are
applicable outside of school and embedded in the authentic use of the information
(Galbraith, 1992; Honebin et al., 1993). Understandably, adults seek to justify their
efforts in education through the relevant application of new information (Thibodeau,
1980).
Establishing the relevance of subject matter is not easy. Mcniel (1981)
considers the following to be essential to relevant curricula:
1. Participation: There is consent, power sharing, negotiation, and joint
responsibility by co-participants. It is essentially non-authoritarian and not
unilateral.
2. Integration: There is interaction, inter-penetration, and integration of
thinking, feeling, and action.
3. Relevance: The subject matter is related to the basic needs and lives of the
participants and is significant to them, both emotionally and intellectually.
4. Self: The self is a legitimate object of learning.
5. Goal: The social goal or purpose is to develop the whole person within a
human society.
37


Within these curricular parameters, students are provided the opportunity to
examine the relevance of the subject matter in a controlled situation and determine
what will be useful outside the classroom (Greeno, 1997; Laabs, 1991). Ultimately
students enthusiasm is related to their perception of relevance of the subject
(Covington, 1999).
Students Perceptions of Problem-Based Curricula
Some educators conclude that thinking is only initiated when students
perceive a problem (Sinclair, 1994). Renkl (1996) questions whether or not all of
learning should be based on problems:
Should all learning be problem oriented? If not, how should problem-
oriented and other instructional units, such as teacher presentations
be sequenced? Do teacher need some training to implement problem-
oriented learning in their classrooms"(p. 119).
The milieu of problems presented to adult students is largely the choice of then-
teachers and may or may not be perceived as relevant by students (Gilbert, 1998).
Students, however, do more than accept the problems, they proceed to adopt the
problems and make them their own (Greene, 1985).
The more distinctly adult students have defined their problems, the less
satisfactory traditional learning will be (Cross, 1981). This suggests that students
not only evaluate the relevance of new information, but that teachers are not
completely capable of satisfying students need for relevance. This may be true
38


because of diametric differences in the motivations of teachers and the adult
students they teach (Dominowski, 2002). Green (2000), for example, illustrates the
potential tension between teachers desire to have students perform well on tests and
students desire to learn skills that will be useful in the workplace. In order to
promote the use of knowledge after formal learning experiences, the problems
presented, and the techniques used to solve them, must resemble similar problems
already understood by the student (Dominowski, 2002; Salomon, Perkins, &
Globerson, 1991). Teachers should therefore question not only how information
should be presented, but also how it might potentially be used (Gilbert, 1989).
Students Intentions to Continue Their Education
The intent to continue educational endeavors indicates a positive attitude
toward learning (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989; Cross, 1981). As noted, teachers
play an important role in helping students determine interests and continue learning
(Weisz, 1990). Students who get the most out of a course are likely to be most
satisfied with the course (Greenwald & Gillmore, 1997a). After a course ends,
students persistence and continuance in education indicate an intrinsic desire for
learning (Nastasi, Battista, & Clements, 1990). Indeed, learning takes place in other
environments outside the constraints of formal schooling (Moore, 1988). Once
finished with their formal education, students may be thrust into cultures that
39


encourage learning (Caffarella, 1994). Those who have negative attitudes toward
continued learning may find themselves alienated from these cultures.
Conclusion
Each of the conditions examined affects attitudes toward learning or the
continuation of learning. Researchers concur that voluntary participation is more
descriptive of effective adult learning than searching for one best way to educate
adults (Glogoff & Flynn, 1987). Lord (1984) concludes that students reliance on
positive experiences can influence their attitudes. Teaching for positive student
affect is therefore, justified and necessary (Cannon & Simpson, 1985). The history
of higher education in the United States seems to illustrate how society has dictated
not only who has access to learning, but also what they will learn and what the
outcome of education should be (Altman, 1996). Subsequently, if students desires
and aspirations are dichotomous with societal norms, their attitudes toward future
education will likely wane.
Societal and organizational needs can override the needs of adult students
(Kiel, 1999). Instruction that is intrinsically motivating would be relevant. Teachers
who help to instill this motivation would be warm and caring and the dissonance
experienced by students would be motivating but not debilitating (Malone, 1981).
There seems to be a need to educate not only the understanding, but also the desires
40


and attitudes of adult students (Cross, 1981). Simply stated: "education needs to be
popular if it is to be effective" (Holt, 1996, p. 1).
The choice to continue one's education is related to a belief that to do so will
help obtain a valuable goal (Cannon & Simpson, 1985). Cross (1981) reports that
most people in the United States are motivated to participate in education and that
the removal of situational, institutional, and dispositional barriers will permit them
to do so. Dissonance circumscribes the internal and external barriers to education
intentionally or unintentionally created by educators. The impact of dissonance
created by adult educators will be examined in the next section.
Teachers as Sources of Dissonance in Adult Education
When adult educators attempt to foster conceptual change, they
simultaneously assume responsibility for students learning by activating prior
knowledge, providing concepts, and evaluating the outcomes of learning (Chan et
al., 1997). Adult educators may attempt to foster conceptual change by provoking
students into action (Windshitl & Joseph, 2000), introducing conflict (Edwards,
1996) and challenging students' interpretations (Almasi, 1995). Similarly, when
teachers use techniques to invoke learning, they assume that students either cannot
or will not learn by themselves. Palmer (1998) simply concludes that students die in
the classroom because teachers use techniques that assume students are dead.
41


Farber (1990) boldly concludes that students dont exist until teachers create
them. If this is true, students have arguably little influence on the techniques that
create them. For example, McKeachie (1986) suggests that teachers independently
design course objectives prior to the selection of teaching techniques or soliciting
feedback from students. Writing to prospective teachers, he continues:
When you choose appropriate teaching methods you should use the
course objectives to dictate how you teach...your choice in the matter
is determined as much by our own personality as by your course
objectives (McKeachie, 1986, p. 16).
This autocratic approach epitomizes teacher-centered instruction (Schieman, Teare,
& McLaren, 1992). By comparison, student-centered paradigms reflect teachers
regard for student development (Singer, 1996) and a cessation of teacher activity
(Dominowski, 2002). Reynolds (1996) suggests that the teachers role is to help
individuals learn their way around the conceptual domain (p. 101). A balanced
approach like this, highlights the responsibilities of both teachers and students in
successful education.
The question of balanced, effective teaching has puzzled educators since the
inception of formal education (Check, 1986). Perhaps the puzzlement originates
with educators unwillingness to accept the fact that there is no one best method of
instruction (Sternberg, 1977) and that teachers and students have discrepant views
of effective teaching (Dominowski, 2002). For example, teachers values and
prejudices may also influence students learning experiences (Honebin et al., 1993 ;
42


Kneller, 1962; Sternberg, 1977). When teachers select the methods and techniques
of teaching they simultaneously project the condition of their souls onto their
students and their subjects (Palmer, 1998).
Teaching techniques can be mismatched with students expectations (Harris,
1989). Mismatched and discrepant techniques can result in dissonance when
students consider their personal responses to teacher behavior. In fact, when
students behave in a manner inconsistent with their extant expectations, dissonance
will naturally follow. Since dissonance is not anything that exists all by itself. It is a
characterization of a relationship between cognitive elements. Thus, determining
whether or not techniques are dissonant should take the form of first specifying the
cognitive elements of that technique, and then examining whether, considering
either one alone, the obverse follows (Festinger, 1957).
Current researchers in dissonance theory suggest that Festinger (1957) did
not use the term obverse according to an accepted dictionary definition (Mills,
1999). Instead, obverse seems to indicate the opposite of an expected cognition
(Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999; Hughes, 1983). Consequently, when students change
their beliefs, behaviors or attitudes in response to teachers activities, they will
likely experience dissonance. In order for teaching techniques to qualify as
dissonant, they must meet one or both of the following requirements: 1) the
technique must prompt a comparison of cognitive elements that reveals a
discrepancy; or 2) the technique must be a violation of students expectations.
43


Dissonant teaching may be unintentional and unplanned (Joseph, 2000c;
Weisz, 1990). Not surprisingly, teachers may be unaware of the dissonance they
cause for students. In fact, teachers may be predisposed to dissonance as a result of
their own teacher training (Chochran-Smith, 1991; Glogoff & Flynn, 1987). Brooks
(1993) concludes that when teachers attempt to capture students understanding,
they do it from the perspective of their own understanding. Kolstad (1997) warns
that teachers can only be role models of learning if they are free of dissonance. This
epistemic contradiction between the inevitability and undesirability of dissonance
for teachers is manifest each time a teacher creates dissonance for their students
(Palmer, 1998).
Requiring teachers to be both aware of, and free from dissonance may be
unrealistic. Teachers should, however, prudently reveal themselves through the
techniques they choose (Windshitl & Joseph, 2000). When dissonance is
intentionally introduced into the classroom, its effectiveness depends on the
accuracy with which teachers predict students recognition of the dissonant elements
and students ability to accommodate dissonant ideas (Edwards, 1996). Knoblauch
(1993) questions the claim to moral authority teachers assume when they impose
these kinds of curricula on their students:
Suppose students dont want to be enlightened in the ways that
critical teachers believe they must be? How far do teachers have a
right to go in celebrating their values while critiquing others? (p. 56).
44


In lieu of changing students educational desires, Cross (1981) advocates
understanding student motivation in order to adapt to it, compensate for it, and
hopefully capitalize on it. Similarly, Bravmann (2000) purports that a focus on
development of self and spirit seem to create no unnatural barriers.
Unnatural barriers to learning are certainly the stepchildren of some teaching
techniques. For example, there exists a difference between the cognitive conflicts
generated by teachers for students and those that students create for themselves
(Stefife, 1990). Students experience two types of dissonance: dissonance that is the
natural result of the human experience, and dissonance that is intentionally
introduced into their experience by others. McGregor (1999) identified native
inconsistencies (or dissonances) as "naturally occurring inconsistencies that are not
behaviorally induced by a researcher" (p. 328-329). Native inconsistencies can also
describe dissonances not intended by an educator but still perceived by adult
learners. It would logically follow that foreign inconsistencies describe dissonances
intentionally introduced by an educator into the education process.
The Unintentional Conditions of Dissonance in Adult
Education
Students may experience dissonance without revealing to a teacher that they
are experiencing dissonance (Carkenord & Bullington, 1993). Hence, teachers may
45


unintentionally promote dissonance for students. Following is a list of some
educational conditions that may inadvertently foster dissonance in adult students:
1. Whenever a teacher constructs a learning activity that violates students self-
concept, the students will experience dissonance (Aronson, 1997).
2. When teachers agree with students counter-attitudinal arguments
dissonance will occur (Johnson et al., 1995).
3. People who are experiencing a state of positive affect are more likely to
experience dissonance from negative utilities (techniques) (Isen et al., 1988).
4. When a teacher attempts to employ unconventional teaching methods, their
students are likely to feel dissonance (Frager & Thompson, 1985).
5. The consideration of an individuals experience, a societys mores, and
existential logic may produce a state where obverse conclusions follow
(Festinger, 1957).
6. Traumatic experience, disturbing problems, and embarrassment can make
learning a dissonant endeavor (McCormick, 1990).
Each of these aforementioned dissonant conditions could also be intentionally
introduced for the purpose of creating dissonance. The examples cited, however,
seem likely to occur without teachers express intent. Dissonance is a reality in adult
learning. Adult education frequently includes situations that require resolution,
violate expectation, and produce disagreeable effects. Recognition of the conditions
46


under which dissonance occurs will attune adult educators to its potentially positive
effects and possible averse consequences.
The Intentional Use of Dissonant Techniques in Adult
Education
The intentional introduction of dissonance into adult educational experiences
can produce increased reflection (Burbules & Linn, 1988), open closed minds
(Knoblauch & Brannon, 1993), increase the desire to formulate resolutions (Frager
& Thompson, 1985), and promote relevance (Brooks & Brooks, 1993). Wlodkowski
(1978) endorses the following dissonant strategies to perhaps promote positive
resolutions:
1. Introduce contradicting or disturbing data and information to motivate
students to examine data and information.
2. Permit a humane degree of student mistakes and frustrations to motivate
students to find their own answers and resolutions.
3. Play the devil's advocate to motivate students to reflect on their responses.
4. Be unpredictable so that students will be more genuine in their learning.
Teachers demonstrate intentional dissonance when they encourage students
to consider opposite possibilities (Lord et al., 1984), foster incongruity from
endorsing critical perspective (Chochran-Smith, 1991), introduce problems that
require resolution (Dewey, 1938a), trap students into thinking deeply (Brown &
47


Campione, 1996), expose students to conflicting information (Hirumi & Bermudez,
1996), and make learning effortful (Hughes, 1983). The prevalence of these
intentionally dissonant techniques illustrates the acceptance of dissonance as a
useful strategy in adult education. Dissonant techniques are no doubt used in the
hope that the successful resolution of dissonance will outweigh any momentary
negative consequences (Frager & Thompson, 1985; Holt, 1996; Knoblauch &
Brannon, 1993). While the unintentional introduction of dissonance may result in
similar consequences, the intentional use of dissonance places the responsibility for
dissonant consequences squarely on the shoulders of adult educators. When the
techniques of dissonance are used with the intent of creating dissonance for
students, they qualify as foreign inconsistencies.
Techniques as Foreign Inconsistencies
Techniques used by teachers to create dissonance for their students tend to
resemble strategies employed by dissonance researchers who create dissonance for
subjects in laboratory settings. Strategies for creating dissonance include a) the
Free-Choice Paradigm, b) the Belief-Disconfirmation Paradigm, c) the Effort-
Justification Paradigm, and d) the Induced-Compliance Paradigm (Harmon-Jones &
Mills, 1999). Current research on dissonance also includes Psychological
Discomfort as an accurate paradigm for dissonance research (Elliot & Devine,
1994). These research paradigms accurately describe techniques used by teachers to
48


purposefully create dissonance for their students. Each paradigm will be described
and its techniques identified in the following sections. As stated previously,
teaching techniques qualify as dissonant when they 1) the technique must prompt a
comparison of cognitive elements that reveals a discrepancy; or 2) the technique
must be a violation of students expectations. It should be noted also that
discrepancy alone is not enough to create dissonance:
According to the aversive-consequences revision, a sufficient
cognitive discrepancy is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause
dissonance and discrepancy reduction. Instead, feeling personally
responsible for the production of foreseeable aversive consequences
is necessary and sufficient (Harmon-Jones, 1999, p. 74).
Free-Choice as a Technique. Autonomy is motivating (Malone, 1981). The
Free-Choice Paradigm proposes that difficult decisions arouse more dissonance than
easy decisions (Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999). Some educators suggest difficult
learning situations involving traumatic experience, disturbing problems, and
embarrassment can enhance the learning process (Dewey, 1938a; McCormick,
1990). The Free-Choice Paradigm also suggests that students independence,
autonomy, and freedom will foster a need to reconcile outcomes with decisions
(Festmger, 1957). In these cases, students will likely extol the virtues of chosen
alternatives and emphasize the negative aspects of rejected alternatives (Harmon-
Jones & Mills, 1999).
Wlodkowski (1985a) describes the innate need people have to be competent,
self-determining and effective. He continues, These strivings form the
49


psychological basis for their intrinsic motivation and lead them to seek out and
conquer challenges that are optimal for their capacities (p. 217). Authentic
intellectual freedom and individual uniqueness, however, are unavoidable in adult
education (Kneller, 1962). By contrast, (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989) contend that
free learning environments are bound by students goals, teachers goals, and
situational constraints. Despite the impositions of criteria, pace, course content, and
activities, students are ultimately responsible for their participation. From this
perspective, learning is neither a static or one-dimensional state, but rather
interactive and self-directed (Kasworm & Yao, 1992). For many adult educators,
student autonomy is synonymous with intellectual growth, cognitive development,
and learning (Knoblauch & Brannon, 1993; Petrina, 1992). While autonomy is
ultimately part of each students experience, teachers can unduly promote choices
for students.
Educators seem to emphasize the value of increased student autonomy.
Students engage in learning for multiple and varied reasons. The perceived
importance of the task, its relevance, and students interest address the question of
why students learn (Pintrich, 1989). Students value the freedom to pick and choose
different ways of pursuing what ever invites their attention (Covington, 1999).
Freedom from dependence lies at the foundation of motivation (Zimbardo, 1969).
Following are some examples of educators who extol the virtues of students
freedom, choice, and autonomy:
50


1. Self-regulated learning is a higher form of cognitive engagement (Como &
Mandinach, 1983).
2. Students must negotiate with the teacher the specific problems they will
address for the experience to be constructivist (Winschitl, 2000).
3. The student should engage in the development of meaningful and relevant
learning (Kasworm & Yao, 1992).
4. Learning is best when students have control over the nature and direction of
the learning process (Bravmann, 2000).
5. Student's ownership of the project is the keys to defining authentic learning
environments (Honebin et al., 1993).
6. Students leam best when they direct their own learning and link learning
directly to work (Sohoran, 1993).
7. Teachers should be facilitators rather than dictators of learning activities
(Kasworm & Yao, 1992).
8. If teachers ignore the importance of freedom to direct the learning
environment, the resulting curriculum may be so sophisticated that students
will fail to assimilate or understand it (Groen, 1978).
Dewey emphasized the tendency for skilled teachers to reduce their control
over the classroom activities (Dewey, 1938b). As teachers reduce their control,
students freedom to direct and construct learning activities will increase
proportionately. For the learning to be truly self-directed, students must also be
51


involved in the process of constructing learning objectives (Stanberiy, 1995).
Subsequently, as students exert control over their learning environment they may
also perform at higher levels (Pintrich, 1989). Without this ownership of learning
activities, students may fail to develop the essential skills for performance in the
transfer environment (Honebin et al., 1993).
Student autonomy and choice are inexorably tied to some aversive
consequences. Boulton-Lewis (1996) report that self-directedness is an empirical
rarity, and adults may feel discomfort when they are required to assume
responsibility for their own learning. Students are not naturally self-directed; they
need to be taught how to be self-directed (Brookfield, 1988; Koschmann et al.,
1994). Even the most independent students need assistance, direction, and even
permission to learn (Caffarella, 1994). Even though most adults ask for increased
autonomy, the resulting ambiguity can frustrate their learning (Mikel, 2000; Reece,
1993; Scardamalia et al., 1989). Obviously, the amount of desirable freedom varies
from situation to situation and from student to student (Cross, 1981; Dewey, 1938b).
Cross (1981) laments, Paradoxically, if we could only require that people be
motivated to learn voluntarily, most of our problems would be solved" (p. 43).
Teachers apparently have to provide enough autonomy for students to
discover consciousness, contrast their experience to those around them, draw
conclusions, and form opinions. This balance between control and autonomy is
52


preferable to self-directedness in adult education (DeCharms, 1968; Taylor & Kaye,
1986).
The Free-Choice Paradigm illuminates teachers tendency to promote
student autonomy as an important goal of education]. In addition to the hard choices
prevalent in students lives naturally, the responsibility of choosing how they learn
will increase the dissonance felt by adult students. When teachers relinquish control
of learning activities, they simultaneously create an antecedent condition for
students to reconcile outcomes with choices. In keeping with the qualifications of
dissonant techniques, Free-Choice techniques qualify as dissonance when they
violate students expectations and/or create a discrepancy between what students
want and what they choose. Generally, discrepant cognitive elements in Free-Choice
techniques center on autonomy, freedom, and choice. Table 2.1 illustrates the
techniques of Free Choice that may result in dissonance for some students.
53


Table 2.1. Free-Choice Techniques
Free-Choice Teaching Techniques Descriptions of Dissonant Characteristics
Use questions to encourage independent learning (Hih, 1998). Expectations: Students who rely on the teacher to supply answers will feel an increase in dissonance.
Discrepant Elements: Choice in answers and the consequences of those answers.
Let groups decide their own activities (Kowalski, 1995; McKeachie, 1986). Expectations: Students who depend on teachers to direct activities will feel dissonance.
Discrepant Elements: Autonomy and the consequences of the chosen activities.
Allow students to share the responsibility for evaluation (McKeachie, 1986). Expectations: Students who rely on the verification of the teacher will experience dissonance.
Discrepant Elements: freedom to inflate or deflate grades and actual student performance.
Have students generate their own examples (Hamilton, 1997). Expectations: Students who look to experts to give examples will feel dissonant about self- generated examples.
Discrepant Elements: Content of the class and the relevance of the generated examples.
Allow students the opportunity to discover their own ideas through journals (Schieman et al., 1992). Expectations: Some may expect to discover their ideas in a social context through feedback and interaction.
Discrepant Elements: the freedom to discover and the applicability of personal ideas.
Allow students to choose activities that are most appropriate for them (Schieman et al., 1992). Expectations: Some students may expect to be told which activities are appropriate.
Discrepant Elements: personal choice of activities and the consequences of those activities.
Belief-Disconfirmation as a Technique. Student autonomy is closely related
to students beliefs. The truly autonomous student will challenge their personal
beliefs and values in order to become an autonomous thinker (Joseph, 2000b;
54


McGregor et al., 1999). The Belief -Disconfirmation Paradigm suggests that
dissonance is aroused when people are exposed to information that is inconsistent
with their beliefs (Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999).
Learning creates an environment for belief revision (Scardamalia & Bereiter,
1992). Without an opportunity to compare their beliefs with others, students ability
to examine beliefs will acquiesce (Joseph, 2000b; Lord et al., 1984). Indeed, if
students miss the opportunity to consider and revise their beliefs, they will likely
reject any information that is inconsistent with their beliefs (Evans, Barston, &
Pollard, 1983). In one view, the goal of education is to change students minds by
helping them think in new ways (Dominowski, 2002). Another view supports the
collaboration between students and teachers to scrutinize assumptions surrounding
the epistemic foundations for knowledge (Windshitl & Joseph, 2000). In either
view, belief revision is equated with learning.
One popular way to encourage belief revision involves supporting students
counter-attitudinal conclusions. When presented with a conflict between their
beliefs and attitudes, students will likely change attitudes to accommodate beliefs.
For example, Johnson (1995) found that when a confederate agreed with subjects
counter-attitudinal statements, subjects were more likely to change their attitudes to
agree with the confederate. When teachers encourage students to make statements
counter to their attitudes, they simultaneously disconfirm students beliefs. The
resulting epistemic curiosity qualifies as dissonance (Malone, 1981). Similarly,
55


when adult educators endorse having students generate their own examples of target
concepts, students may feel compelled to generate examples that concur with
teachers ideas but are counter-attitudinal for students (Hamilton, 1989).
Other methodologies related to belief disconfirmation include creating
learning communities that value criticism, comparison, and controversy to
encourage belief revision (Hamilton, 1997; Malone, 1981; Scardamalia & Bereiter,
1992; Windshitl & Joseph, 2000). Each of these techniques will produce an
antecedent need for students to reconcile their own attitudes with the teachers
expression of support. Similarly, dissonance is promoted when teachers introduce
contradictory or disturbing data, play devil's advocate (Wlodkowski, 1978), invite
students to read conflicting accounts (Frager & Thompson, 1985; Hirumi &
Bermudez, 1996), or encourage students to consider opposite possibilities (Lord et
al., 1984) to encourage learning.
Discussions can be used to provide students with an opportunity to weigh
their personal beliefs against the perspective of other students (Dominowski, 2002).
Debates, demonstrations, and critical problems qualify as dissonant activities when
they create a need for students to reconcile their personal beliefs with learning
activities (Chan et al., 1997; Gorsky & Finegold, 1994). Gorsky & Finegold (1994)
conclude that belief revision will be more likely when teachers express
dissatisfaction with existing concepts, introduce new concepts, or designate a
concept as plausible.
56


Perhaps the most common technique associated with belief disconfirmation
is questioning. Since questions promote independent learning (Hih, 1998), they are
closely related to the issues of choice, self-directedness, and autonomy. Teachers
also attempt to persuade students to examine their cognitions through questions
(Kneller, 1962). Wlodkowski (1978) advocates questions that neither intimidate nor
manipulate students into a response. Knoblauch (1993), however, notes that the
questioner has a rhetorical advantage and that Socratic dialogue is manipulative: it
isnt dishonest but it does maintain firm control of its outcomes (p. 115). This
intentional manipulation and control distinguish Belief-Disconfirmation questions
from other techniques associated with the Free-Choice Paradigm.
In the spectrum from manipulative to probing questions, a typology of
questions can be found. From least to most manipulative, the spectrum may appear
as follows:
1. Objective questions (Wooden et al., 1994).
2. Adjunt questions (Fenwick & McMilan, 1992).
3. Provocative questions that solicit feelings (Wlodkowski, 1978).
4. Interpretive questions (Wooden et al., 1994).
5. Connective questions (McKeachie, 1986).
6. Comparative questions (McKeachie, 1986).
7. Self-assessment question (Fenwick & McMilan, 1992).
8. Critical Questions (McKeachie, 1986).
57


9. Reflective questions (Wooden et al., 1994).
10. Decisional questions (Wooden et al., 1994).
11. Assigned questions (Fenwick & McMilan, 1992).
12. Formal examination questions (Fenwick & McMilan, 1992).
The commonality between each of these kinds of questions is the antecedent state
they produce for students: students will be compelled to answer questions. The
degree of compulsion depends on the kind of question (Wlodkowski, 1978).
Students, however, will turn every question into a problem to be solved (Palmer,
1998). The process of answering a question illuminates for both the teacher and the
student the implicit beliefs held by the student.
Certainly, questions have multiple sources; students are expected to ask and
answer questions (Bravmann, 2000; Greeno, 1997). By reflecting on students
questions, teachers may begin to decipher students values (Paley, 1990). Hih
(1998) asserts that questioning leads to believing while answers lead to belief.
Answers and beliefs are inseparable. Students may acknowledge the truth of a
statement but reject its bearing on their beliefs (Chan et al., 1997).
Like other dissonant techniques, the techniques of Belief-Disconfirmation
qualify as dissonant when they violate students expectations and/or pair discrepant
cognitive elements. Generally, the techniques of Belief-Disconfirmation violate the
expectations of students who anticipate support for their extant beliefs. The
techniques of Belief-Disconfirmation generally introduce dissonant cognitive
58


elements in the form of new and discrepant information. Table 2.2 shows some of
the techniques of Belief-Disconfirmation and their potential for causing dissonance.
Table 2.2. Belief-Disconfirmation Techniques
Belief-Disconfirmation Teaching Techniques Descriptions of Dissonant Characteristics
Accept erroneous student contributions (McKeachie, 1986). Expectations: Students: who expect teachers to correct their contributions will experience dissonance.
Discrepant Elements: Teachers acceptance and students recognition of erroneous information.
Introduce contracting or disturbing data and information. (Wlodkowski, 1978). Expectations: Students may expect information to be harmonious and comfortable.
Discrepant Elements: New information contradictory to extant information.
Play the devil's advocate (Wlodkowski, 1978). Expectations: Students may look to the teacher for support as opposed to challenge.
Discrepant Elements: Teachers advocacy and current beliefs.
Use cognitive conflict to encourage students to explain (Gorsky & Finegold, 1994). Expectations: Some may look to teachers to help them avoid or resolve conflict.
Discrepant Elements: The elements that comprise the conflict.
Encourage dialectical thinking (Frager & Thompson, 1985). Expectations: Some may expect simple acceptance of their beliefs and ideas.
Discrepant Elements: Erroneous ideas and logic.
Stimulate critical reflection (Galbraith, 1992). Expectations: Some students may have not experienced critical reflection.
Discrepant Elements: Extant beliefs and objectification.
59


Table 2.2 (Cont.)
Belief-Disconfirmation Teaching Techniques Descriptions of Dissonant Characteristics
Present discrepant facts and use conflicting accounts, cause disagreement (Chan, 1997; Frager, 1985; Burbules, 1988;Edwards, 1996; McKeachie, 1986). Expectations: Adults may engage in learning to expressly avoid conflict, disagreement, and discrepancy.
Discrepant Elements: Conflict and disagreement require discrepant cognitions.
Destabilize familiar procedures to create divergent thinking (Chan et al., 1997). Expectations: Some students may be hoping for stabilization and reinforcement of their beliefs.
Discrepant Elements: Extant thoughts and new diverging thoughts.
Use analogy to establish structure between dissimilar elements (Vosniadou, 1988). Expectations: Students may not find dissimilarities in the elements.
Discrepant Elements: The need for structure and dissimilarities in the analogy.
Have students identify semantic differences (Erickson, 1998). Expectations: Students may not recognize any semantic differences.
Discrepant Elements: Opposing or divergent elements of the semantic differential.
Help students develop self-questioning strategies (Fenwick & McMilan, 1992). Expectations: Some learners may expect to question other things but not themselves.
Discrepant Elements: Students beliefs and the beliefs to which students are exposed.
Discrepant Elements: Previous conclusions and the need to question.
Effort Justification as a Technique. The Effort-Justification Paradigm
suggests that dissonance is aroused when an individual is involved in an unpleasant
activity to achieve a desirable goal (Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999). As the effort
required for learning increases, students ability to control and predict the success of
60


their education will decrease (Koschmann et al., 1994, p. 247). In these cases,
learning (a desirable outcome) is promoted by increased effort (an unpleasant
activity for some students). Students will attempt to ameliorate this antecedent
condition. Increased efforts constitute an antecedent condition to the justification of
effort. In other words, as their efforts increase, students will feel compelled justify
the increase in effort. Some adult educators strive to make learning effortful in an
overt attempt to promote dissonance (Hughes, 1983). Other teachers of adults
attempt to permit a humane degree of student mistakes and frustrations in hopes of
motivating students to find their own answers and resolutions (Wlodkowski, 1978).
Effortful learning has been a cultural moray for more than a century. Joseph
(2000b) reports that in the 19th and 20th centuries, education to promote virtue was
replaced by educating the mind as a muscle.
Although the belief in the mind as muscle may have vanished as a
serious model for learning theory, advocates of this curricular
orientation explicitly portray genuine learning as discipline, struggle,
strengthening, expanding and training replete with pain (Joseph,
2000b, p. 59).
When viewed from the students perspective, painful learning is a paradox. On the
one hand, tasks must be difficult in order to even qualify as problems (Dominowski,
2002). On the other hand, pain is not necessarily a part of learning (Langer, 1993).
When students perceive that an unpleasant task will produce mastery of new
knowledge, they will likely persevere (Lord et al., 1984). However, some students
are unable to reconcile the anxiety associated with difficult tasks even when they
61


successfully negotiate the task (Pintrich, 1989). This paradoxical relationship
between effort and enjoyment illustrate the cognitive elements of the Effort-
Justification Paradigm.
These cognitive elements mediate students abilities to reconcile their efforts
expended to complete the tasks. For example, students are more likely to exert effort
in their learning when the content of learning tasks is relevant to student goals
(Pintrich, 1989). Conversely, students are less likely to persist in learning activities
that may result in failure (Malone, 1981). When tasks are difficult or complicated,
students may ignore details in the task to make a simpler problem (Dominowski,
2002). Reimann (1996) suggests that mindless activities do not foster competence. It
would also follow that mindless activities do not justify the effort required to
complete the activity.
Effort -Justification is closely related to Induced-Compliance. Middleton
(1999) concludes, When effort invested in trying to achieve a desirable outcome
increases, disappointment is greater if the effort is unsuccessful and the relief is
stronger if it is successful (p. 110). Simply stated, students will consent to
complete difficult tasks if completion of the task is perceived to be worthwhile and
possible. Students who pursue learning goals seem to exert effort in order to realize
intrinsic rewards (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Lepper et al., 1996). Intrinsic motivation
is positively correlated to task difficulty only to a point (McCullers, 1978). Tasks
however, can be too difficult and result in a decrease in intrinsic motivation.
62


Effort-Justification is also closely aligned with Belief-Disconfirmation. The
justification of extant beliefs requires effort. The difficult transformation of thought
requires effort over an extended period of time (Dominowski, 2002; Hih, 1998).
Dominowski (2002) also concludes that when students exert effort in the
justification of their beliefs, values, and decisions, the increased effort may result in
dissonance.
Techniques associated with Effort-Justification include writing assignments
that require thought (Dominowski, 2002), note taking (Dominowski, 2002), and
studying for tests (Lamberth & Knight, 1974). The effort required for students to
generate examples of concepts will also create a necessity to justify the example
(Hamilton, 1989). Larger problems require more effort (Dominowski, 2002).
Weighted assignments create the antecedent need to justify the expenditure of effort
according to the weight of the assignment. As the perceived worth of the assignment
increases, the amount of effort necessary to complete the assignment will also
increase (Dominowski, 2002). Some educators advocate long-term engagement in
learning projects (Winschitl, 2000). Each of these teaching techniques will create
the need for students to justify the effort required to successfully complete the
activity.
The techniques of Effort Justification generally qualify as dissonant when
students expect not to expend a certain amount of effort in their learning. The
discrepant cognitive elements associated with Effort-Justification usually involve
63


weighing the amount of effort required against the value of the outcome. Table 2.3
lists some of the techniques of Effort-Justification along with delineations of the
cognitive elements and violations of students expectations.
Table 2.3. Effort-Justification Techniques
Effort-Justification Teaching Techniques Descriptions of Dissonant Characteristics
Facilitate the search and recognition of incomplete Gestalts (Wlodkowski, 1978). Expectations: Some students may not expect to expend the energy required to resolve incomplete ideas.
Discrepant Elements: The importance of the Gestalt and the effort required to complete it.
Present problematic situations as the basis for assignments to initiate thinking and promote self-directedness (Dewey, 1938b; Taylor, 1986; Weisz, 1990). Expectations: Some may hope that learning will solve problems instead of creating them.
Discrepant Elements: The effort associated with resolving problematic situations and the value of self-directedness.
Make learning challenging for students (Galbraith, 1992). Expectations: Students may expect learning to be free from challenge.
Discrepant Elements: The effort required to resolve the challenges and the value of learning.
Use homework as a basis for discussion (Dominowski, 2002). Expectations: Some students may expect the discussions to be self-explanatory or to be able to participate in discussions without completing homework.
Discrepant Elements: The effort required for homework and the value of participating in the discussion.
Promote note taking for more active information processing (Dominowski, 2002). Expectations: Some may expect to be able to process without expending effort in taking notes.
Discrepant Elements: The effort of taking notes and the value of the information.
64


Induced-Compliance as a Technique. The Induced-Compliance Paradigm
suggests that dissonance is aroused when an individual is induced to say or do
something that is inconsistent with their extant personal attitudes or beliefs
(Harmon-Jones & Mills, 1999). The presence of inducements distinguishes Induced-
Compliance from Effort-Justification and Belief-Disconfirmation. When students
are induced to learn for any other reason than for the sake of learning itself, the
inducements qualify as external motivations (Patel & David, 1996). Middleton
(1999) associated dissonance arousal with the presence of reinforcement or
punishment contingencies. In order to qualify as dissonant, techniques associated
with Induced-Compliance must create the antecedent need for students to reconcile
their counter attitudinal behaviors with the inducements. While not every
inducement qualifies as dissonant, each extrinsic reward holds the possibility of
creating dissonance for some students.
Every class reflects some type of reward structure. The academic work
required for the class is embedded in the implicit or explicit reward associated with
the class (Doyle, 1983). These reward structures reveal teachers' views about what it
takes to be successful (Covington, 1999; Windshitl & Joseph, 2000). It is clear that
reward structures mediate student motivation (Malone, 1981). Rewards do not,
however, have one clear-cut effect on performance (DeCharms, 1968; McCullers,
1978). It is not even clear that rewards categorically enhance students desire to
learn. Kaplan (1997) notes that students possess natural desires that can actually be
65


thwarted by extrinsic motivations. Motivations derived from and orchestrated
through the teacher are categorically extrinsic motivations.
The debate over the effectiveness of extrinsic motivations contains relevant
insights. For example, the benefits of extrinsic rewards include the following:
1. Contingent rewards can change performance on learning activities (Lepper
et al., 1996).
2. Cooperative reward structures have positive effects on student motivation
and can facilitate performance (Pintrich, 1989).
Patel (1996), however, concluded that rewards might have a detrimental effect on
motivation and run counter to adult-learning theory. The consequences of extrinsic
rewards include the following:
1. Students can view their behavior as extrinsically motivated even when it is
intrinsically motivated (Lepper et al., 1996).
2. There is a negative relationship between rewards and attitudes (Bern, 1967)
3. Rewards can have adverse effects on intrinsic motivation and objective task
performance (Lepper & Greene, 1978b; Malone, 1981; McCullers, 1978).
4. Rewards are associated with less voluntaiy time on tasks (Kohn, 1996).
5. When rewards are terminated, students may continue to expect the reward
(Lepper et al., 1996).
6. Rewards tend to undermine the intrinsic valuation of academic tasks
(Middleton & Toluk, 1999).
66


Reward structures are also susceptible to over-justification (Lepper & Greene,
1978a). In these instances, students suspect the value of intrinsically motivating
behaviors when additional rewards are promised. The Induced-Compliance
Paradigm describes both positive and negative consequences associated with
extrinsic rewards.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous inducement in adult learning is grades. Students
deliberately manipulate their circumstances to balance grades with learning
(Covington, 1999) and grades significantly detract from students' intrinsic
motivation (Middleton & Toluk, 1999). Grades also carry the feeling of being
controlled and diminish engagement (Covington, 1999). Supplemental to the
manipulation associated with grades, Covington (1999) notes that students complete
assignments to achieve the highest grade possible and that developing an
appreciation for what one is learning is less important.
In addition to grades, other extrinsic rewards endorsed by adult educators
include, but are not limited to:
1. Verbal praise (Cameron & Pierce, 1996).
2. Frequent tests to encourage attendance (Dominowski, 2002; Fritschner,
2000; Goldwater & Acker, 1975).
3. Relating stories to pique interest (Joseph, 2000b).
4. The use of humor (Kaplan & Pascoe, 1977).
67


5. Group work that pressures students into participation (Mikel, 2000; White &
Wehlage, 1995).
6. Discussions based on homework assignments (Dominowski, 2002).
7. Modeling desirable learning behaviors and requiring students to respond
accordingly (Dominowski, 2002).
8. Threatening students with retaking exams (Lamberth & Knight, 1974).
9. Establishing token societies (Hughes, 1983).
Even non-verbal cues like moving around (Check, 1986), eye contact (Dominowski,
2002), and teacher proximity (Dominowski, 2002; Weisz, 1990) can induce students
to participate. Rau (1990) consequently warns about the implications when teachers
hover over students to encourage participation.
The conditions of Induced-Compliance relate closely to those ofBelief-
Disconfirmation. Dialogue, for example, requires students to mediate previously
formed beliefs in order to process divergent perspectives (Willets, Boyce, &
Franklin, 1995). At the same time, dialogue encourages students to participate.
Students who are induced to perform counter-attitudinal roles will also elaborate
their support for that role (Kruglanski, 1978). These elaborations include belief
revision. Even questions are an inducement to reconcile beliefs with possible
answers (Dominowski, 2002).
The conditions of Induced-Compliance also resemble Effort-Justification.
For example, when presented with multiple means for attaining the same goal,
68


students will choose the easiest (Lepper et al., 1996). Students will also endure the
negative effects of a stimulus if they suspect that the effort involved in reducing the
stimulus outweighs the effects of the stimulus itself (DeCharms, 1968). In these
instances the amplitude of the reward mediates the dissonance that results from
justifying the expenditure of effort. In other words, barely sufficient rewards will
create more dissonance (Kruglanski, 1978). Understandably, when the valence of an
activity is negative, students will only engage in it if the rewards compensate the
effort (Middleton & Toluk, 1999). For example, if students perceive that a teacher is
boring, they will likely attend classes as long as it takes more effort to transfer
classes than just to endure the tedium.
Teachers can mediate the gap between task value and effort. For example,
teachers can increase dissonance by eliciting supporting explanations for concepts
that are inconsistent with students beliefs (Frager & Thompson, 1985) and by
encouraging students to think more complexly (Brown & Campione, 1996, p. 15).
Considering opposite possibilities and alternate explanations (Lord et al., 1984) or
creating incongruity based on critical perspective (Chochran-Smith, 1991) will also
create dissonance for some learners. When teachers attempt to motivate students to
participate in these activities it suggests that teachers simultaneously doubt that
students motivation to participate on their own.
The techniques of Induced-Compliance qualify as dissonance when students
expect to participate without inducements. The discrepant elements of Induced-
69


Compliance place inducements against students beliefs or attitudes. Table 2.4 lists
some potentially dissonance inducements and identifies violations of expectations
and the resultant discrepant cognitions.
Table 2.4. Induced-Compliance Techniques
Induced-Compliance Teaching Techniques Descriptions of Dissonant Characteristics
Urge students to involve themselves emotionally in the acquisition of knowledge (Kneller, 1962). Expectations: Students may hope to be involved without being urged.
Discrepant Elements: Beliefs about the knowledge and urging from the teacher.
Use questions to encourage students to think of possible answers (Dominowski, 2002). Expectations: Some students may think of answers before being questioned.
Discrepant Elements: The question and possible answers.
Elicit explanations and performance (Frager & Thompson, 1985; Hirumi & Bermudez, 1996). Expectations: Students may expect to remain anonymous.
Discrepant Elements: Performance with and without elicitation.
Place emphasis on skill development (Shakarian, 1995). Expectations: Students may expect to emphasize things other than skill development.
Discrepant Elements: Attitudes about the skill and the emphasis.
Help students participate to encourage commitment to the course (Weisz, 1990). Expectations: Students may be expecting to participate and wonder about the necessity of being encouraged to participate.
Discrepant Elements: Participation and encouragement.
Help students develop enthusiasm for learning (Erickson, 1998). Expectations: Students may wonder why they need help developing enthusiasm.
Discrepant Elements: Beliefs about learning and help from the teacher.
Weekly quizzes to improve student learning (Goldwater & Acker, 1975). Expectations: Students may not expect quizzes regularly or frequently.
Discrepant Elements: The value of learning and quiz performance.
70


Table 2.4 (Cont.)
Induced-Compliance Teaching Techniques Descriptions of Dissonant Characteristics
Promote discussion to develop motivation and practice in thinking (McKeachie, 1986; Rau & Heyl, 1990). Expectations: Some may expect to be motivated without participating in discussions.
Discrepant Elements: Beliefs about the content of the discussion and the need for promotion by the teacher.
Reward students with access to other resources (library, internet, books) (Schieman et al., 1992). Expectations: Students may expect access to all resources.
Discrepant Elements: Access to other resources and the performance required to attain access.
Use eye contact to encourage participation (Dominowski, 2002). Expectations: Students may expect to remain anonymous.
Discrepant Elements: Attitudes toward participation and the inducement of eye contact.
Warn students that an exam is coming, and use tests as teaching tools (Dominowski, 2002; Erickson, 1998). Expectations: Students may expect to associate learning with more than just the ability to pass an exam.
Discrepant Elements: Attitudes toward learning and test performance.
Change voice pitch and move around to encourage student attention (Dominowski, 2002). Expectations: Students may pay attention without any variety.
Discrepant Elements: Attitudes toward participation and teachers verbal emphasis or proximity.
Move from group to group to encourage students to stay on task (Weisz, 1990). Expectations: Students may stay on task without encouragement from the teacher.
Discrepant Elements: Attitudes toward group work and the proximity of the teacher..
Psychological Discomfort as a Technique. Each of the paradigms described
thus far, illustrate discomfort that results from a consideration of discrepant
71


cognitive elements or a violation of students expectations. When viewed as
psychological discomfort (Elliot & Devine, 1994), dissonance describes various
conditions associated with adult teaching and learning. Discomfort is a necessary
part of learning (Cross, 1981; Pike & Mansfield, 1996). For example, students may
feel uncomfortable answering questions front of a group (Dominowski, 2002).
Frowns, wry smiles, and gruff voices from teachers can make students feel
uncomfortable (Fritschner, 2000). Large classes increase inhibitions and make some
students uncomfortable (Dominowski, 2002). Some may feel uncomfortable if the
pace of the class is too rigorous (Dominowski, 2002). Students may also feel
uncomfortable when their work is displayed publicly (Winschitl, 2000).
Psychological discomfort categorically prompts the use of dissonance
reduction strategies that result in a reduction of discomfort (Devine et al., 1999;
Elliot & Devine, 1994). To the extent that dissonance is experienced as
psychological discomfort, it manifests itself as an elevated feeling (Devine et al.,
1999; Elliot & Devine, 1994). In other words, psychological discomfort is an
antecedent condition that results from the paradigms described thus far. As a
description of dissonance, however, Psychological Discomfort includes more than
the sum of discomforts created in the other paradigms. Psychological discomfort
can result from techniques that create inconsistencies, incongruities, tension,
disharmonies, or counter-attitudinal advocacies (Festinger, 1957; Frager &
Thompson, 1985). Inconsistent cognitions qualify as dissonance only when they
72


implicate self-concept (McGregor et al., 1999). When teachers intentionally cause
inconsistencies, incongruities, or disharomonies, students will naturally feel
compelled to resolve their discomfort.
In order to qualify as dissonant, techniques that cause discomfort must also
violate students expectations or pair discrepant cognitions. The Psychological-
Discomfort Paradigm describes multiple techniques espoused by adult educators
including the violation of self-concept (Aronson, 1997) and unconventionality
(Frager & Thompson, 1985; Wlodkowski, 1978). Galbraith (1992) encourages
teachers to instill tentativeness in students to promote genuine questions. Even
unfamiliarity will cause discomfort. Examples, used to illustrate the subject matter
may be familiar to the teacher but unfamiliar to students. This unfamiliarity
constitutes an antecedent condition where students will likely attempt to reconcile
the example with the subject (Dominowski, 2002). When teachers respond with
ambivalence to students queries, students will experience a psychological
discomfort (McGregor et al., 1999; Napier & Gershenfeld, 1973). Some adult
educators endorse making students uncomfortable in order to promote learning
(Cross, 1981).
Generally, the techniques of Psychological-Discomfort violate the
expectations of students who hope or anticipate that learning will be a comfortable
experience. The techniques of Psychological Discomfort are usually the result of
73


discrepant cognitions. Table 2.5 illustrates some of the techniques associated with
psychological discomfort and the conditions of dissonance.
Table 2.5. Psychological Discomfort Techniques
Psychological Discomfort Descriptions of Dissonant Characteristics
Teaching Techniques____________________________________________________
Introduce contradicting or Expectations: students may anticipate data
disturbing data and information, to be congruous. ___________________________
(Wlodkowski, 1978),_______________Discrepant Elements: Contradicting data

Permit a humane degree of student mistakes and frustrations (Wlodkowski, 1978). Expectations: Students are likely to expect teachers to assist in avoiding mistakes and frustrations. Discrepant Elements: Frustration and the fact that the teacher allowed mistakes.
Be unpredictable; use surprise. (McKeachie, 1986; Wlodkowski, 1978). Expectations: Students will likely expect the teacher to behave predictably. Discrepant Elements: The source of the surprise and the need to assimilate the surprise.

Use minicrisis to help students Expectations: Students probably expect to
reconstruct knowledge (Chan et be able to avoid crisis in learning._______
al., 1997). Discrepant Elements: The source of the
crisis and the need for resolution.
Use stunning statements or scenarios. Present new information to provoke students. (Chan et al., 1997). Expectations: Some will anticipate learning to consist of predictable, congruous statements. Discrepant Elements: Provocative information and the assimilation of the information.
Arouse students curiosity (McKeachie, 1986). Expectations: Some students may think that they already know the information and not expect to have their curiosity aroused. Discrepant Elements: Curiosity and students extant knowledge.
74


Table 2.5 (Cont.)
Psychological Discomfort Teaching Techniques Descriptions of Dissonant Characteristics
Perturb students into action (Edwards, 1996). Expectations: Students likely expect to want to act.
Discrepant Elements: Action and the perturbed emotional state.
Correct misconceptions and polish students responses (Dominowski, 2002). Expectations: Students may anticipate approval for their responses.
Discrepant Elements: Misconceptions and the resulting response.
Conclusion
Dissonance may be an unavoidable phenomenon in adult education. The
amount of dissonance perceived by students may impact both the motivation to be
involved in learning and the desire to continue learning. The impact of dissonance
varies from class to class, from teacher to teacher, and from student to student
(Middleton & Toluk, 1999). Since teachers experiences are categorically different
from students (Dominowski, 2002), there exists a difference between the cognitive
conflicts generated by teachers for students and those that they create for themselves
(Steffe, 1990). In short, teachers may not recognize the impact of dissonance on
their students.
Andragogy suggests that learners should be in an environment where they
are comfortable and the behavior of the teacher is predictive of the participation of
75


their students (Knowles, 1980). If adult learning cannot be free from dissonance,
adult educators should at least be aware of the potential impact of dissonance.
The effects of dissonance are unpredictable (Harmon-Jones, 1999). The
stress, frustration, and tension that are associated with dissonance can reduce
students ability to participate in learning (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Adult educators
could consider the needs of learners early in the design of a curriculum. The
resulting curricula could be adapted to the needs of learners as opposed to requiring
learners to adapt to the constraints of the curriculum (Newstrom & Lengnick-Hall,
1991).
Balance between external imposition and free expression is critical to
learning. Learning is controlled by two great principles: participation in something
inherently worthwhile and the perceived relationship between a means and its
consequences.(Archambault, 1964). Dissonance may limit participation and mystify
the perceived relationship between learning and the rewards of learning.
Consequently, students needs are more critical to success than teaching techniques.
In fact, technique is what teachers use until the real teachers arrive (Palmer, 1998).
This dismal view of teaching technique illustrates the role of teachers as more than
technicians. When teachers purposefully introduce dissonance into the learning
environment, they are culpable for its consequences even when those consequences
include a reduced desire by students to continue learning.
76


CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
This research examined the relationship between teachers teaching
techniques and students attitudes toward continued learning. The four research
questions were:
1. What is the relationship between the degree of perceived dissonance and
students attitudes toward continued learning?
2. What techniques do adult educators intentionally use to create dissonance for
their students?
3. Do students distinguish between the dissonance associated with the course
and the dissonance caused by the teachers teaching techniques?
4. What is the relationship between students perception of dissonance and
their desire to continue learning when teachers techniques are identified as
the source of dissonance?
The examination of dissonance required the recognition of dissonance in
adult students, identification of teachers intent to use dissonance as a teaching
technique, and delineation of the relationship between dissonance and students
attitudes toward continued learning. The examination of attitudes required the
recognition of attitudes, exploration of students association of attitudes with
77


dissonance, and evidence that students acknowledge teachers intentions to create
dissonance.
The identification of dissonance in adult students relied on questionnaires
and interview questions constructed from accepted descriptions of dissonance.
Comparatively, the identification of teachers intent to use dissonance involved
examination of teachers espoused techniques in comparison with accepted methods
for inducing dissonance in research subjects. The examination of students attitudes
toward continued learning relied on a questionnaire and interviews designed from
accepted descriptions of students attitudes. In order to demonstrate both the
existence of dissonance and its relationship to students attitudes toward continued
learning, qualitative and quantitative data were used. Table 3.1 illustrates the
relationship between the research techniques and the research questions of this
study.
78


Full Text
Vosniadou, S. (1988). Analogical Reasoning as a Mechanism in Knowledge
Acquisition: a Developmental Perspective Washington DC: Office of
Educational Research and Improvement.
Wadington, E., & Hicks, K. (1995). Using the big book experience with adult
literacy students. Adult Learning^May/June), 14-16.
Wankat, P. C., & Oreovicz, F. S. (1988). What is good teaching? ASEE Prism, 5(1),
16.
Weiner, B. (1994). Integrating social and personal theories of achievement striving.
Review of Educational Research, 64(4), 557-573.
Weisz, E. (1990). Energizing the classroom. College Teaching, 38, 74-76.
White, J., & Wehlage, G. (1995). Community collaboration: if it is such a good
idea, why is it so hard to do? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis,
77(1), 23-38.
Wicklund, R. A, (1976). Perspectives on Cognitive Dissonance. Hillsdale:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. (1992). The development of achievement task values: a
theoretical analysis. Developmental Review, 12, 265-310.
Willets, J. W., Boyce, M. E., & Franklin, C. A. (1995). Praxis as a new method in
the academy. Adult Leaming(July/August), 10-11.
Windshitl, M. A., & Joseph, P. B. (2000). Confronting the dominant order. In P. B.
Joseph, S. L. Bravmann, M. A. Windschitl, E. R. Mikel, &N. S. Green
(Eds.), Cultures of Curriculum (pp. 194). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates.
Winschitl, M. A. (2000). Constructing understanding. In P. B. Joseph, S. L.
Bravmann, M. A. Windschitl, E. R. Mikel, & N. S. Green (Eds.), Cultures of
Curriculum (pp. 194). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Wlodkowski, R. J. (1978). Motivation and Teaching a Practical Guide. Washington
D. C.: National Education Association.
279


Wlodkowski, R. J. (1985a). Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn. San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass Inc.
Wlodkowski, R. J. (1985b). How to plan motivational strategies for adult
instruction. Performance and Instruction Journal, 11, 1-6.
Wooden, S., Baptiste, N., & Reyes, L. (1994). Oriding: an adult teaching-learning
technique. AdultLearningQulylAugust), 18-19.
Zimbardo, P. G. (1969). Conclusion. InP. G. Zimbardo (Ed.), The Cognitive
Control of Motivation: the Consequences of Choice and Dissonance (pp.
264-283). Glenview: Scott, Foresman and Co.
280