The effects on graduate training...

The effects on graduate training... - The Effects of...

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The Effects of Graduate Training on Reasoning Formal Discipline and Thinking About Everyday-Life Events Darrin R. Lehman Richard O. Lempert Richard E. Nisbett University of British Columbia University of Michigan Law School University of Michigan ABSTRACT." The theory of formal disciplinenthat is, the view that instruction in abstract rule systems can affect reasoning about everyday-life eventsnhas been rejected by 20th century psychologists on the basis of rather scant evidence. We examined the effects of graduate training in law, medicine, psychology, and chemistry on statistical reasoning, methodological reasoning about confounded variables, and reasoning about problems in the logic of the conditional Both psychology and medical training produced large effects on statistical and methodological reasoning, and psychology, medical, and law training pro- duced effects on ability to reason about problems in the logic of the conditional Chemistry training had no effect on any type of reasoning studied. These results seem well understood in terms of the rule systems taught by the various fields and indicate that a version of the formal discipline hypothesis is correct. A few years ago an article appeared on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times urging that Latin and Greek be taught routinely to high school students in order to im- prove intelligence (Costa, 1982). The justification given for this recommendation was a study showing that stu- dents who had taken Latin and Greek in high school scored 100 points higher on the verbal portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than students who had not studied these languages. Although the editors of ap- parently thought that this argument was worthy of con- sideration by its readers, it seems likely that most aca- demically trained psychologists would be dubious on two different grounds. First, because of their methodological training, psychologists would be aware of the likelihood of substantial self-selection effects in any study of the kind described: High school students who take Latin and Greek are likely to be more intelligent than students who do not, and schools that include Latin and Greek in their curriculums are likely to have higher academic standards than schools that do not. Second, most psychologists are aware of the bad reputation of the "learning Latin" ap- proach to teaching reasoning. Thus, they believe reason- ing cannot be taught by teaching the syntax of a foreign language, by teaching principles of mathematics, or in- deed by any "formal discipline" procedure whereby the rules of some field are taught and then are expected to be generalized outside the bounds of the problems in that field9 Psychologists are, no doubt, right in their assertion that self-selection undercuts the argument for teaching Latin and Greek9 Are they equally justified, though, in assuming that teaching foreign languages or any other formal discipline has no generalized implications for rea- soning? The antiformal discipline view not only conflicts
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The effects on graduate training... - The Effects of...

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