Welcome to the Website

I began work on the Reflective Judgment Model with my colleague Karen Strohm Kitchener when we were doctoral students at the University of Minnesota in the 1970s under the guidance of Professors Clyde Parker, James R. Rest, and Mark L. Davison. Since that time, colleagues at many other universities have joined this effort; collectively, this group of scholars and educators has greatly enriched our understanding of the development of epistemic assumptions and how young adults and adults learn to make truly reflective judgments. In 1994, we published Developing Reflective Judgment: Understanding and Promoting Intellectual Growth and Critical Thinking in Adolescents and Adults (Jossey-Bass, Inc.). Many of the ideas included here were introduced in that volume; many are discussed there in greater detail.

Two major observations have guided our work over the years: 1) individuals' understanding of the nature, limits, and certainty of knowing (their epistemic assumptions) affects how they defend their judgments; and 2) epistemic assumptions change over time in a developmentally related fashion. These observations have guided and motivated us to more fully describe, better assess, and carefully research the development of reflective judgment.

This website was initially designed with the considerable assistance of former doctoral students at the University of Michigan, Marie Kendall Brown and Nathan K. Lindsay; without their encouragement, thoughtful questions, and perseverance, this task would not have been accomplished. More recently, Woo-jeong Shim has assisted with its refinement. Thank you, Nathan, Marie and Woo-jeong!

— Patricia M. King, Professor of Higher Education, University of Michigan

Overview of the Website

This website provides information about the Reflective Judgment Model, its assessment, research base, and educational implications.It is designed for graduate students, educators, and educational researchers interested in the development of intellectual capacities that evolve from late adolescence through adulthood. This site includes information on the following topics:

  • The Reflective Judgment Model's theoretical framework
  • The Reflective Judgment Model and its description of how thinking evolves from pre-reflective to quasi-reflective to reflective thinking
  • Our rationale for choosing a stage model
  • The Reflective Judgment Interview (RJI)
  • The Reasoning about Current Issues Test (RCI)
  • A discussion of educational implications and areas for further research
  • Bibliography
  • The toolbar to the left shows the organization of information contained in this site.

Reflective Judgment as a Goal of Higher Education

Many (if not most) colleges and universities aspire to teach college students how to draw reasonable conclusions in the presence of incomplete and even conflicting data. In The Challenge of Connecting Learning, a report by the Association of American Colleges, the need for higher education institutions to teach students reflective thinking is clear:

"In the final analysis, the challenge of college, for students and faculty members alike, is empowering individuals to know that the world is far more complex than it first appears, and that they must make interpretive arguments and decisions-judgments that entail real consequences for which they must take responsibility and from which they may not flee by disclaiming expertise" (1991, pp. 16-17).

This quote aptly illustrate two main features of the Reflective Judgment Model, how individuals learn to grapple with the complexities of the issues they seek to understand, and how they learn to make judgments-and to take responsibility for their judgments-in the face of this complexity.

Sources for articles and other references on this topic can be found in the bibliography.