Academic Discourse and its Implications for Higher Education: Students' Cognitive Flexibility Development and its Backward Input in Academic Discourse Development

this paper is aimed at the Cognitive Flexibility analysis as a component of Sophisticated Thinking and possible prospects for its enhancement through both teachers' and students' academic activities. To test potential input of academic activities in cognitive flexibility development a special study was conducted. Throughout extra English classes with 5-month duration participants of the study (156 students in general) discussed research papers of their lectures as topics for the discussion. The papers were devoted to the students themselves as a part of the educational content interpreting and clarifying on the issues being of high interest among the youth. Thus, processing the papers supposed simultaneous students' involvement into academic activities. Prior to the experiment sessions and after, all participants were encouraged to pass Stroop Colour Word Test and Free association test to measure their current level of Cognitive Flexibility. After the last session on papers' discussion the students were simultaneously asked to perform Self-Reported Questionnaire. Both of the monitoring instruments are meant to verify each other to reveal and evaluate ongoing and subsequent levels of students' Cognitive Flexibility (degree of being categorical/rigid or lenient). This was measured by means of clarifying on the skills regarding utilization of elicited cause-and-effect connections; perceiving ability to be involved in teamwork; encouraging interest to new approaches of the renowned agenda; refusing from nonreversible reasoning; changing attitude to academic activities. The authors put forward the hypothesis suggesting a deliberate choice of the participants: as first and second-year students have vague motivation and relatively low level of Emotional Intelligence, they may have lowered Cognitive Flexibility. Still, five and six-year students are able to demonstrate far more developed skills mostly based on their working experience that supposes involvement into working atmosphere, thus contributing to enhanced Cognitive flexibility and less rigidity. Surprisingly, the results obtained through Self-Reported Questionnaires demonstrated the impressive rise in the participants Cognitive Flexibility level immediately after the third study session. The aforesaid witnesses that such activities allow research papers to be more practically-oriented, that, in its turn, inevitably increases their validity and further incorporation in formation of modern educational design.

Tikhonova E.V. 1 , Rezepova N.V.2
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  • 1 RUDN Univ, Moscow, Russia
  • 2 Plekhanov Russian Univ Econ, Moscow, Russia
Ключевые слова
academic discourse; cognitive flexibility; higher education; sophisticated thinking
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