Exploring the conceptual frameworks guiding developmental research and practice in higher education: Some challenges for transdisciplinary work
This article examines questions initially raised at a meeting that took place 50 years ago on the topic of the development of knowledge in higher education where Jean Piaget coined the term "transdisciplinarity"and distinguished it from interdisciplinarity. We consider the question of why transdisciplinary scholarship has been so challenging for the field of developmental science. We argue that shifts in the guiding metatheoretical framework of theory and research, away from split-mechanistic paradigms and towards process-relational ones, do not always align with the conceptual frameworks used in educational practice. Using the example considered by Piaget and others at the original conference on higher education and the development of knowledge and also examining the domain of identity development, we find support for ways developmental scholarship has embraced the shift to a relational-developmental metatheory. In contrast, we argue that the relational-developmental paradigm has not been fully adopted by practitioners, with evidence of some using the Cartesian-split-mechanistic paradigm and others using some aspects of the relational-developmental paradigm. We highlight the importance of examining the conceptual frameworks guiding developmental scholarship and practice, suggesting that alignment of conceptual frameworks is an essential ingredient for progress in transdisciplinary scholarship and practice to take place. Conceptualizations at the metatheoretical level condition each and every aspect of theory, research, and practice, giving meaning to both theoretical and empirical activities and guiding practice-based work. Debates often occur at the metatheoretical level, and thus are not open to empirical adjudication. We conclude that metatheoretical alignment between scholars and practitioners is critically important to transdisciplinary efforts in developmental science and therefore more attention to the metatheoretical assumptions of the process-relational paradigm is critical for work with practitioners to succeed.
Budwig, Nancy and Alexander, Achu Johnson, "Exploring the conceptual frameworks guiding developmental research and practice in higher education: Some challenges for transdisciplinary work" (2021). Psychology. 177.