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Process hierarchy theory: A holistic approach to theory building in education

Hill, Peter W. (1982) Process hierarchy theory: A holistic approach to theory building in education. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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A holistic approach, to theory building in education is explored, using as a starting point four well-known educational taxonomies. The study is in two parts. The first part is concerned with generating and synthesizing theory; the second part with the theory-confirming process and the use of quantitative, analytic methods.

In the first part, it is argued that the taxonomies of Bloom et al., Gagne, Ausubel and Robinson, and Merrill, are instances of attempts at classification based on a general theoretical view of learning which is referred to as "process hierarchy theory". At a more general level. the concepts involved in process hierarchy theory are those which have been used in describing a wide range of natural and artificial phenomena. These concepts are explored from a general systems perspective in order to provide a framework for comparing and contrasting process hierarchy theory with other hierarchical conceptions of learning and cognition.

In the second part, the mathematical modelling of process hierarchy theory is considered from a factor analytic perspective. Building on Guttman's radex theory, it is shown how Joreskog's general LISREL model can be used to specify various basic models to test the psychological assumptions of the theory. To illustrate this approach and to provide an empirical test of process hierarchy theory in two particular instances, two extensively-studied data sets are reanalysed using the LISREL method.

In the concluding chapter, the links between the theory building of the first part of the study and the modelling and theory testing of the second part are examined and an attempt is made to evaluate the general approach taken in the study and the specific ideas pursued using this approach.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): McGaw, Barry
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