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The Relationship between Reflective Disposition and Persistence in Education

Peter Michael Robinson


Getting students to engage in reflective thought is a «wicked» problem in teaching. Students may demonstrate a resistance to any form of reflection, analysis or critical thought and instead automatically default to surface approaches which are non-productive in academic contexts. This resistance may involve an aversion which leads to students not persisting to higher levels of education and dropping out. The present study investigates the relationship between the resistance to reflective processing and persistence in education using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) and some additional survey items aimed at testing surface processing tendencies in non-academic contexts. It provides support for the hypothesis that a general aversion to reflective processing appears to inhibit academic progression and correlates with drop-out from courses midstream. It closes by suggesting that aversion to analytical thinking may be a threshold issue that needs to be addressed separately before students can progress to any challenging content.


surface processing; deep processing; reflection; intuition; CRT

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ecps-2022-025-robi

Copyright (©) 2022 Peter Michael Robinson – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

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Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies (ECPS)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (19/05/2010 n. 278)
Online ISSN 2037-7924 - Print ISSN 2037-7932

Research Laboratory on Didactics and Evaluation - Department of Education - "Roma Tre" University

Executive Editor: Gaetano Domenici - Associate Executive Editor & Managing  Editor: Valeria Biasci
Editorial Board: Eleftheria Argyropoulou - Massimo Baldacci - Joao Barroso - Richard Bates - Christofer Bezzina - Paolo Bonaiuto - Lucia Boncori - Pietro Boscolo - Sara Bubb  - Carlo Felice Casula - Jean-Émile Charlier - Lucia Chiappetta Cajola - Carmela Covato - Jean-Louis Derouet - Peter Early - Franco Frabboni - Constance Katz - James Levin - Pietro Lucisano  - Roberto Maragliano - Romuald Normand - Michael Osborne - Donatella Palomba - Michele Pellerey - Clotilde Pontecorvo - Vitaly V. Rubtzov - Jaap Scheerens - Noah W. Sobe - Francesco Susi - Giuseppe Spadafora - Pat Thomson
Editorial Staff: Fabio Alivernini - Guido Benvenuto - Anna Maria Ciraci - Massimiliano Fiorucci - Luca Mallia - Massimo Margottini - Giovanni Moretti - Carla Roverselli 
Editorial Secretary:
Nazarena Patrizi 

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