Guidelines for the Preparation of a Synthesis

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(This order must be followed)

Title Page

Copyright Page

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Dedication/Acknowledgements (optional)

Preface/Foreword (optional)

List of Tables (if applicable)

List of Figures/ Maps/ Charts/ Illustrations (if applicable)

Table of Contents


(Typical order of chapters)

1. Grab readers' attention and set the scene ("Introduction")

2. Locate your work in the context of what others have done ("Literature Review")

3-# Main chapters

#. Take stock of where you have come and indicate future directions ("Conclusion")


Appendices (A-Z) (if applicable)

Endnotes (if applicable)


Supplementary Bibliography (optional)


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Example: Cover Page (note alignment and use of capitalization)

A Synthesis Project Presented

Submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston,

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of


December 1998

Critical and Creative Thinking Program

Example: Copyright Page (note the author’s name is as it appears on cover page)

c. 1998 by Mona E. Liblanc

All rights reserved

Example: Signatory Page (note alignment of text and full titles of each person)

A Synthesis Project Presented

Approved as to style and content by:


Delores Gallo, Associate Professor

Chairperson of Committee


Arthur Millman, Associate Professor



Delores Gallo, Program Director

Critical and Creative Thinking Program

Example: Abstract (note alignment and capitalization, not more than 350 words)



December 1998

Mona E. Liblanc, B.A., Mount Holyoke College

M.A., University of Massachusetts Boston

Directed by Associate Professor Delores Gallo

The Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program is a "community of inquiry" (Lipman 1991, 3) that fosters opportunities for "transformative events" (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 196) which have been catalysts for my epistemological evolution. I entered the program seeking insight into the causes or reasons for my dissatisfaction with my professional work choices. My work in this program provided the structure necessary to identify the characteristics of meaningful work and the vital role it plays in my self-actualization process. By providing learning opportunities which trigger "transformative events" (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 196), the Program has changed the way I see and value my thinking skills and their use in the workplace.

This paper chronicles three key events that triggered transformative insights and new ways of seeing myself. It describes the process by which the program integrates Matthew Lipman's (1991) reflective model of education; fostering opportunities for transforming events to occur. The transformative nature of these events is described and the shifts in my meaning making processes are analyzed using the epistemological framework developed by Mary Field Belenky and her colleagues (1986). By helping me to discover and acknowledge my skill (and the ever present desire for further development) as a "higher-order" (Lipman, 3) thinker, my experiences in this program were the catalyst for exposing my need for and clarifying my definition of personally meaningful work. It is with such clarity that I have secured a new position that demands professional integrity, rewards creative collaboration, and allows me to facilitate others' learning to improve their work lives.

Example: Table of Contents (note alignment and layout, titles exactly as in text)


Chapter Page
1.INTRODUCTION .......................................................................... 1
2.CONCEPTS AND THEORIES ........................................................... 6

Choice Points and Transformations ................................................ 6

Reflective Education & Community of Inquiry ................................... 8

Women's Ways of Knowing........................................................ 12

Summation ............................................................................ 19

Background ........................................................................... 20

Event #1 - Creativity is Forever..................................................... 21

Event #2 - A Sense of Agency....................................................... 26

Event #3 - Community of Inquiry & Higher Order Thinking.................... 30

Summation............................................................................. 35


Aspects of Personally Meaningful Work........................................... 37

Final Reflections - A New Position................................................. 41
BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................. 44

Example: Introduction (set this project in your life/work area of interest)



[It was] an experience in which the world split[s] open and life [wa]s irrevocably changed. (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 195)

I have been on a quest in search of the purpose of my life for the past fifteen years. My desire to make a positive contribution to society and my love of learning have motivated me to make my living in public service organizations and to pursue course work in a variety of domains. Balancing the need to survive with my longing for intellectual stimulation, I have wandered from work place to classroom, searching for the right place to be. My search eventually led me to a non-traditional learning environment where I could expand my thinking skills and address my philosophical issues with new insight.

Three years ago I took a course in creative thinking. It would prove to be the beginning of a journey of self discovery, a process of "claiming [my] passions and shaping [my life] in response to them" (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 195). In those first fourteen weeks, I rode an emotional and epistemological roller coaster; first wary then fearful then excited. A creative skill was exposed. New ways of thinking and problem solving were acquired. Others valued what I had always considered a fanciful weakness. The first course led to a second, then to considerations of a certificate, and finally the commitment to a Masters degree and to myself as a "higher order" thinker (Lipman 1991, 3).

For my synthesis project, I have elected to undertake a retrospective analysis of key tranformational experiences from my three years as a Masters candidate in the Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. These events provided piercing insight into my thinking processes, values, and work ethics. They influenced my process of meaning making and my definition of meaningful work. By undertaking this project, I will provide a chronicle of personal change which traces the development of specific creative and critical thinking skills that were essential for identifying and clarifying my position on the importance of personally meaningful work. While these turning points in my comprehension of my meaning making occurred as a direct result of coursework or classroom events, they were not always recognized at the time. Most often, real insight was gained only after reflection on the event or as the result of the cumulative impact of several similar experiences, reinforcing the value of a newly acquired meaning making schema.

Example: Brief introduction of experts used and why applicable to your work.

The theoretical underpinnings for my analysis are based on the work of Matthew Lipman, Claudia Bepko and Jo Ann Krestan, and Mary Field Belenky et. al. Lipman's concepts of the "reflective" (19) model of education and the "community of inquiry" (3), as described in Thinking in Education (1991), offer the most applicable description of the educational culture found in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. In Singing at the Top of Our Lungs (1993), Claudia Bepko and Jo-Ann Krestan define transformative events and explore the power and impact that such experiences have on the development of women's meaning making processes. Using their extensive phenomenological research on women's epistemological development, Mary Field Belenky and her colleagues offer an alternative view of women's meaning making in Women's Ways of Knowing (1986). Their work challenges the dominant male focused measures of women's thinking process. Taken together, these theories and concepts provide the framework by which I will assess the evolution of my definition of meaningful work.

Because this paper is an attempt both to chronicle events of personal insight and to evaluate my development as a thinker, I have modeled my work on the organizational learning history structure introduced by George Rothe and Art Kleiner in their 1995 article entitled "Learning Histories: 'Assessing' the Learning Organization". A learning history provides organizations that seek to emulate a "systems thinking" (Senge 1990, 185) approach to assessment with new ways to address questions such as: "How do we know we achieved something of value here?" (2). The processes for measuring new understanding that underpins a learning history echoes the philosophy of assessment and evaluation embraced by the Critical and Creative Thinking Program. Both are based on the assumption that "most people have an intrinsic ability to judge their [own] progress" (1).

The learning history approach embraces many of the fundamental attributes of good thinking reflected in the pedagogy of the Program. The process of producing a learning history "facilitates judgment, ... relies on criteria, ... is self correcting, ... [and is] sensitive to context" (Lipman 1991, 116). Most importantly, the learning history model exposes the participants' "underlying assumptions" (Rothe and Kleiner 1995, 1) about their learning processes and what they believe they have learned. By incorporating key aspects of "ethnography, journalism, action research, oral history, and theater," (1) this assessment method encourages a deeper appreciation for the complexity of the learning experience for individuals within organizations. By synthesizing the art of reflection with the journalist's drive to get "to the heart of a story in a way that draws people in" (Rothe and Kleiner 1995, 2) and the oral historian's art of weaving a meaningfully intricate image of complex events, a learning history is able to articulate the meaning of each experience as part of a larger learning process. The learning history approach to assessment brings a uniquely personal voice to the narrative and "help[s] readers ... understand how participants attribute meaning to their experience" (2).

Example: Preview the entire paper, chapter by chapter.

The architecture of a learning history is reflected in the structure of this paper. The theoretical and conceptual foundation for the analysis of my experiences in the Program is be provided in chapter two. The concept of "transformative events" (1993, 196) is drawn from the work of Claudia Bepko and Jo-Ann Krestan, clinical therapists and co-directors of Family Therapy Associates, to provide a psychological foundation by which to explain how cognitive and emotive changes are triggered. The work of Matthew Lipman, founder/director of the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children, is referenced to demonstrate the power of the reflective model of education and to illustrate how the "community of inquiry" (1991, 3) is an ideal setting to foster transformative experiences. Mary Field Belenky and her colleagues (1986), renowned researchers and university educators in psychology and related fields, developed the epistemological framework by which these changes will be identified and evaluated for their contribution to my evolving definition of meaningful work. In the third chapter, I will recount three transformative experiences in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program that triggered significant changes in my meaning making. The narrative includes an analysis of the transforming aspects of each experience and illustrates the instructors' methods for implementing the reflective model of education and fostering a community of inquiry, setting the stage for the event to occur. The change in meaning making that emerged from each event will be assessed to identify and measure shifts in my way of knowing myself and the world of work. In the final chapter, I will discuss how the cumulative effect of these changes in meaning making and self-concept have contributed to my current definition of personally meaningful work and helped me to secure a position which more closely matches those characteristics.

Example: Close the Introduction with why you want to write about this topic.

The program has reawakened a "sense of passion    the awareness of what moves [me]" (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 7). The process of discovering and claiming my passion for personally meaningful work has been and continues to be a process of "[u]nfolding [m]eaning" (Bohm 1985) on many levels. It has become a powerful force in my life as I reconsider how I will trade my mental and physical labor for the currency to survive.

Example: Literature Review (overview of what is to be covered, note extra spacing at subsections, give experts’ credentials)


[A]lthough raw experience is insufficient, by reflecting upon it the student could arrive at truth. (Belenky et. al 1986, 193)

The theoretical and conceptual framework for this paper is drawn from selected texts used in the Creative and Critical Thinking Graduate Program. This chapter will provide an overview of the particular aspect of each text that is germane to this project. From the work of Claudia Bepko and Jo-Ann Krestan (1993) on women and creativity, I will discuss the concepts of choice points and transformative experiences. Matthew Lipman's text on the reflective pedagogical approach provides the ideal description of the classroom environment found in the Program, the "community of inquiry" (1991, 3). Finally, it is by applying the research by Mary Field Belenky and her colleagues (1986) on the epistemological development of women that I am best able to provide an accurate analysis of the evolution of my meaning making.

Choice Points and Transformations.

Claudia Bepko and Jo Ann Krestan, clinical therapists and researchers on women's psychology, explore the purpose and value of transformational experiences in Singing at the Top of Our Lungs (1993). Their seminal work on female creativity and relationships is based on over three hundred interviews with a diverse group of women facing the daily challenge of resolving the conflicts raised when one tries to balance the need to be self-expressive with the desire to maintain connection with others. Four distinct models of woman's ways of constructing a meaningful life emerged from their research: "Lovers, Artists, Leaders, and Innovators" (10). Through in-depth analysis of the interviews, the authors found that each participant's awareness of an underlying desire to form her own life pattern was initiated by an event or experience of great transformative power. It is their analysis of the structure and impact of transformative events that will be applied in this paper.

Transforming events evoke a change in perception of the self and the world around us that demands our attention. When such "moments of 'vision' and connection" occur, "we [come to] realize some core truth about ourselves or the world" and we are no longer able "to think, talk, feel, or act the way we used to" (195). The sheer power of such moments of personal enlightenment has been likened to "a stab in the heart" (197).

"Recognition and reconnection" (197) are at the core of a transforming event. For some, the experience can be almost physical as if the "whole body [was] tell[ing] us that we need to pay attention" (198). While most moments of profound personal insight are enlightening, there are occasions when we become painfully aware of our darker side; "the part of ourselves we would disown or deny if its power didn't shake us to the core" (199). By recognizing and connecting with the "shadow" (199) self, we face the negative energies within ourselves that are part of our humanness. By working with our feelings of anger, grief and despair, we exercise our capacity for endurance and "move to a deeper level of understanding and integration" (200).

Transformational events force us to face options we either did not or could not see before. We are "faced with the need to make choices and to act" (207). For an event to have its full transformational effect, it must first be recognized then accepted as "some no longer deniable truth about the way one feels" (208). The "emotional resolution" (208) that comes with recognition and acceptance paves the way for action. At this point, the will to act and an "active commitment to self, to following through" (208) are vital. By avoiding action, we prolong the inevitable, "until another, often more harsh situation reminds us that we need to do something new" (209). If we face the choice point and commit to change, we open ourselves to "a deep sense of satisfaction and involvement that can't be bought in the currency of money" (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 209 210).

Transformational experiences are essential to "[t]he process of emerging into subjectivity" (195). The will to reject the socio cultural definition of self (as object) and to use one's "authentic inner energy" (28) to shape a personal self definition (as subject) requires that we experience a profound shift in our self awareness. The shift from object to subject imbues the individual with an "instantaneous sense of 'rightness' ... [that] must be more accessed and integrated in daily life" (198).

Example: Close each subsection with a summarizing paragraph about the relevance of this material to the thesis of your paper.
A change in setting is often necessary to open oneself to the experience of a transforming event. The frame of reference within a given environment (work, family, culture) is self generating and self reinforcing. Only by "step[ping] outside the normal boundaries of our lives ... at some developmental point of readiness" (198) can we open ourselves to a new experience or an alternative interpretation of what is thought to be known or familiar. It was the unique academic culture of the Critical and Creative Thinking Program that provided the setting change essential for my experience of the transforming events I shall describe and analyze later in this paper.
Reflective Education & A Community of Inquiry:
[Y]ou cannot teach me to think for myself but you can create an environment in which I can figure out how to teach myself to think for myself. (Lipman 1991, 261)

Academic programs that embrace the reflective paradigm of education have long recognized the truth of this statement. Practitioners of reflective pedagogy focus on "the autonomy of the learner" (19) by creating environments which encourage students to:

... form their own understanding of the world, and develop their own conceptions of the sorts of persons they want to be and the sort of world they would like it to be. (19)

Learning environments which encourage introspection, the analysis of one's underlying assumptions and recursive self correction, are fertile settings for experiencing transformational events and exploring their meaning (Belenky et. al. 1986, 190-213).

Example: Connect each subsection’s material with prior to build your arguments.

Matthew Lipman (1991) characterizes the reflective paradigm as seeking "achievement of understanding and good judgement" (14) and inspiring "think[ing] about the world when our knowledge of it is revealed ... to be ambiguous, equivocal, and mysterious" (14). Proponents of the reflective paradigm stress that "disciplines ... are neither nonoverlapping nor exhaustive" (14) and embrace the belief that "[t]he teacher's stance is fallibilistic ... rather than authoritative" (14). Students are expected "to be thoughtful and reflective, and increasingly reasonable and judicious" (14). The goal for both students and teachers is to concentrate "not on the acquisition of information but on ... grasp[ing] ... [the] relationships within the subject matters under investigation" (14). Programs that adopt the reflective paradigm of education have dispensed with the teacher dominated classroom in favor of fostering a "community of inquiry" (3) during each class meeting as well as within the institution at large. In a community of inquiry, teachers and students:

... listen to one another with respect, build on one another's ideas, challenge one another to supply reasons for otherwise unsupported opinions, assist each other in drawing inferences from what has been asked and seek to identify one another's assumptions. (15)

Lipman identifies five steps in creating a setting in which a community of inquiry can flourish. The selection and introduction of materials from external sources (e.g. texts, readings, etc.) initiates the process. Each resource should model the attributes of a community of inquiry both in content and presentation. In the second stage, teacher(s) and students collaborate on the form and content of the learning experiences. The resulting agenda identifies important content from the students' perspective and reflects the "group's cognitive needs" (242). Through the process of "dialogical inquiry" (242), the group moves into the third stage—solidarity. In this phase, individuals engage in "cooperative reasoning (e.g. building on each other's ideas, offering counterexamples or alternative hypotheses, etc.)" (242), develop and exercise their thinking skills, and gain competency at identifying meaningful differences in context. The group coalesces as individuals internalize "the overt cognitive behavior of the community" (242). In stages four and five, the community of inquiry appropriates the "academic tradition" (242) of the particular discipline and explores alternative perspectives in order to reach "practical judgments" (242) that are drawn from a "synthesis of the critical and creative" (243) thinking processes of the group.

The learning in a community of inquiry possesses a "deepened sense of meaning that comes with strengthened judgement" (243). While traditionalists may experience the discourse in a community of inquiry as unfocused and disconnected, Lipman contends that "the community of inquiry is not aimless" (229). Rather, the process within a community of inquiry:

... aims at producing a product ... has a sense of direction; ... is dialogical ... has a structure ... [in which] rationality and creativity apply ... to operationalize and implement the definitions of critical and creative thinking. (229)

To change both focus and process is especially necessary in adult educational settings where participants have had negative experiences with teacher directed learning. The dialogical nature of the community of inquiry opens these individuals to the power of their own minds.

The power of dialogue is best exemplified in Unfolding Meaning (1985) by David Bohm. His chronicle depicts an inclusive, interpersonal process in which:

People are no longer primarily in opposition ... they are participating in this pool of common meaning that is capable of constant development and change. (175)

Each participant is fully engaged in the exchange, becoming part of "new dynamic relationships in which no speaker is excluded" (175) and content is free flowing.

The synergy generated by the dialogical nature of a community of inquiry offers many opportunities for transformational experiences. Through the exploration of alternative points of view, the use of dialogue (rather than debate) in the search for reasonable explanations, and the process of judicious decision making, communities of inquiry become safe havens for personal discovery. A community of inquiry provides:
... a social matrix that generates social relationships, thereby setting the pattern for a variety of cognitive matrices that generates fresh cognitive relationships. (92)

It is in such environments, like the Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston, that new ways of knowing are encouraged and explored.

The instructors in this Program employ much of Lipman's reflective paradigm. Readings are selected to provide a foundation in the concepts of the domain and give participants a common language for communicating about creative and critical thinking. Individual and small-group classroom exercises provide opportunities for experiential learning and strengthening new thinking skills in a risk-free environment. The essential thread that runs through each course is journal keeping. The weekly journal writing requirement supports learning through reflection and provides source material for various reflective assignments. The process of thinking about thinking (metacognition), alone and in groups (on paper and aloud), concretizes the value of reflective learning for each student and frees individuals to experiment (alone and with others) with thinking in new ways; it allows the class to blossom into a community of inquiry.

Women's Ways of Knowing:

Like Bepko and Krestan, the work of Mary Field Belenky and her colleagues (1986) challenge the conventional ways of measuring and defining cognitive processes. They question the value of current theories in epistemological development that have:

... established men's experience and competence as a baseline against which both men's and women's development were then judged, often to the detriment or misreading of women. (7)

In response, they pursued exhaustive phenomenological research to discover the "models of learning, knowing, and valuing that maybe specific to, or at least common among, women" (6).

Example: Provide detail on the foundation of the work by each expert and its application to this paper.
Women's Ways of Knowing (1986), the product of their efforts, is based on one hundred thirty-five in depth interviews with a diverse cross section of women. The participants were recent graduates of or current enrollees in traditional academic programs or from women's parenting programs offered by local organizations, the "invisible colleges" (12). By using an open ended interview/case study approach, the researchers hoped to "hear what the women had to say in their own terms rather than test [their] own preconceived hypotheses" (11).

The interviews revealed "five different perspectives from which women view reality and draw conclusions about truth, knowledge and authority" (3) that challenge the conventional dogma in cognitive psychology and traditional philosophies of thinking and knowledge. Their work exposed the close relationship between a woman's "'ways of knowing'" (xiii) and her self concept at each phase, as well as the barriers faced by each of us as we "struggle[s] to claim the power of [our] own mind" (3). Of particular interest to this synthesis project is their finding that the women in their study cited family and educational institutions as having the most influence on their epistemological development.

Example: Give a concise summary of the themes/findings of each expert.

In the first epistemologial perspective, "women experience themselves as mindless and voiceless and subject to the whims of external authority" (15). They live in silence. Words and their vocalization are viewed as instruments of pain and disconnection, not as a means for exchanging knowledge. Women in this position fail to mention an inner voice or having had any occasion for internal dialogue. Their lack of capacity for "representational thought" (25) limits their way of knowing the world and themselves to "the present ... the actual ... the concrete ... the specific ... and to behaviors actually enacted" (26 27), totally disconnected from others. They cannot conceive of being able to learn from themselves or "from the words of others" (24).

Believing that they are isolated from any source of intelligence, silent women become ever more passive and dependent upon authority figures for direction:
... blind obedience ... [is] ... of utmost importance for keeping out of trouble and insuring ... survival because trying to know 'why' is not thought to be either particularly possible or important. (28)

The devastating effects of the failure to acknowledge (let alone follow) "the directives of their own inner voices" (28) is exemplified in their acquiescence to oppressive, stereotypical sex roles. These women believe …..

Example: Close the Literature Review chapter with a transition that sets the stage for the use of these experts’ materials in your unique work which is to follow.

The work of Belenky et. al. (1986) provides the ideal epistemological framework for interpreting the changes in my meaning making that were brought about by my work in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program. The phases of knowing which they describe are constructed from the experiences of women in various communities of inquiry or settings that support reflective, rather than separate, learning. More importantly, these women acknowledged that their new meaning making was triggered by transformative events experienced because of their involvement in these non-traditional learning environments. Like me, they were:

... in the midst of dramatic personal and intellectual changes ... [having experienced] ... transitions in the way they perceived the world around them. (4)

Example: Body (introduce the unique work of this paper)



[T]he deepest pain is to not be fully engaged with one's own life. To lack spirit, energy, enthusiasm, dedication ... in relationship or in work ... to fail to love what one does. (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 210)


It was my failure to be "fully engaged" (Bepko and Krestan 1993, 210) in my work, which motivated my search for a non-traditional academic program over three years ago. I had worked in various state government departments and non-profit agencies filling various health and human services research and policy positions. However, my assignments had grown to have little social impact, and the culture of the work setting was usually divisive and not supportive of individual growth. An all-time low was reached when I realized that my professional integrity was often viewed as a shortcoming.

The need for a change was painfully evident, but I was at a loss to enumerate just what I needed to find true pleasure in my work. I knew that I had a "good head on my shoulders" and that I enjoyed solving problems. I liked challenges and looked forward to using my analytical and interpersonal skills to get the job done. But I was chaffing under the over-watchful eyes of managers who supervised by criticism and underestimated the capacities of those who were "just staff".
Example: Tie in the unique work of this paper with the literature review material.
I sensed that there were many facets to my unhappiness at work and I knew that the role work played in my self-concept was more than a matter of take-home pay, but how it all fit together was a mystery. The one thing I did know was that I needed to be in an environment that encouraged thinking. I needed "to know that [I was] capable of intelligent thought, and [I needed] to know it right away" (Belenky et. al. 1986, 193).

What follows is a recounting and discussion of only three of the dozens of experiences, both in- and outside the classroom, that were triggered either by readings from or classroom events during my tenure in the Critical and Creative Thinking Graduate Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The first experience occurred during the Introduction to Creative Thinking; it re-awakened creative pleasures that had been left behind in childhood. The second transforming event, discovering the value of empathy and connection to others as essential creative thinking skills, was triggered by events in the Seminar in Women's Creativity. And, finally, it was as a result of my coursework for the Foundations of Philosophical Thought that I came to see the entire Creative and Critical Thinking Program as a "community of inquiry" (Lipman 1991, 3) and to define the essential characteristics of personally meaningful work.

Example: Beginning of the unique work of this paper.

Event #1 - Creativity is Forever:
An understanding of creativity can change your life .... (Davis 1983, x)
I took my first course in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program in the Spring of 1995; it would be the setting of my first and most powerful transforming experience. The methods of instruction used in the Introduction to Creative Thinking course are exemplary of Lipman's (1991) reflective pedagogy and are typical of those used by most instructors in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program. Experiential learning exercises with gradually increasing ambiguity and complexity allowed the class to become comfortable with taking risks and to practice our "divergent thinking" skills (Davis 1983, 298). We acquired an understanding of the characteristics of the creative thinking process and learned to enjoy experimenting with new thinking strategies in a risk-free and reflective manner.

Through my class work, I discovered that I had a degree of competence in several creative thinking skills and dispositions. Among my favorites were playful thinking, problem finding and an attraction to complexity. I was also enjoying the fact that my proclivity for "thinking too much" was considered by the experts in the field as an asset rather than a flaw. The guided imagery exercise late in the semester would prove to be the turnkey event that taught me that risk-taking could be fun. I would learn that the only failure would be not to use the opportunity to experiment. Failure was a learning opportunity, not a wasted effort….

Example: Summarize each “unique work” chapter and tie in the material with previous and subsequent chapters.


By December of 1997, I had learned a great deal from my experiences in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program. My first course reawakened a creative spirit that had been packed away with childhood when adult responsibilities began to demand all of my attention. Discovering that creative thinking aptitudes could produce useful outcomes triggered an epistemological shift in my way of defining problem solving skills. Where I had once depended exclusively on critical thinking for effective problem solving (as I had been taught by managers and experts in my field), I found that playfulness and flexibility were equally if not more valuable skills in complex situations. From that moment on, my source for defining effective problem solving and useful professional skills shifted; I had acquired "[t]he inner voice" (Belenky et. al. 1986, 52) of a subjective knower.

The second epistemological shift, to connected procedural knowing, resulted from the accumulation of a semester's worth of empathy among a small group of creative women and men. Watching classmates find the courage to reveal their creative selves and reap the reward of affirmation from their peers gave me the strength to practice the one creative skill which has haunted my progress toward self-actualization, risk-taking. It was the supportive ethos within this group that gave me the courage to embrace my need for new learning and work experiences.

Subtle shifts in my definition of personally meaningful work coalesced during the final course in the program. My leap to constructed knowing was prompted by the synergy in meaning making among classmates as we jointly identified aspects of personally meaningful work. That I was able to construct a learning experience from which my classmates could "[u]nfold" (Bohm 1995) their own new meaning regarding work gave me the courage to integrate my new meaning making schema into my search for fulfilling work. The repercussions from this experience would allow me to accept an offer for a new position in early 1998. It was an offer I could not refuse as it would allow me to use my thinking skills to help others make meaning from the chaos of their own jobs.

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