King & Kitchener’s Reflective Judgment Model
About the Authors
Patrica King is associate professor and acting chair of the Department of Higher Education and Student Affairs at Bowling Green State University.
Dr. Karen Kitchener is a professor in the College of Education and the director of the counseling psychology program at the University of Denver.
Printable Summary (PDF)
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Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory
Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory:
- Pre-Reflective Thinking (Stages 1, 2, and 3)
- Stage 1
- View of knowledge: Knowledge is assumed to exist absolutely and concretely; it is not understood as an abstraction. It can be obtained with certainty by direct observation.
- Stage 2
- View of knowledge: Knowledge is assumed to be absolutely certain or certain but not immediately available. Knowledge can be obtained directly through the senses (as in direct observation) or via authority figures.
- Stage 3
- View of knowledge: Knowledge is assumed to be absolutely certain or temporarily uncertain. In areas of temporary uncertainty, only personal beliefs can be known until absolute knowledge is obtained. In areas of absolute certainty, knowledge is obtained from authorities.
- Stage 1
- Quasi-Reflective Thinking (Stages 4 and 5)
- Stage 4
- View of knowledge: Knowledge is uncertain and knowledge claims are idiosyncratic to the individual since situational variables (such as incorrect reporting of data, data lost over time, or disparities in access to information) dictate that knowing always involves an element of ambiguity.
- Stage 5
- View of knowledge: Knowledge is contextual and subjective since it is filtered through a person’s perceptions and criteria for judgment. Only interpretations of evidence, events, or issues may be known.
- Stage 4
- Reflective Thinking (Stages 6 and 7)
- Stage 6
- View of knowledge: Knowledge is constructed into individual conclusions about ill-structured problems on the basis of information from a variety of sources. Interpretations that are based on evaluations of evidence across contexts and on the evaluated opinions of reputable others can be known.
- Stage 7
- View of knowledge: Knowledge is the outcome of a process of reasonable inquiry in which solutions to ill-structured problems are constructed. The adequacy of those solutions is evaluated in terms of what is most reasonable or probable according to the current evidence, and it is reevaluated when relevant new evidence, perspectives, or tools of inquiry become available.
- Stage 6
Application of Theory to Practice
This section is designed to provide student affairs professionals, staff, and faculty members with tips and tools to apply theory to practice.
Annotations of Associated Literature
Annotations listed below are associated with the author’s original work to provided a more in-depth look at the theory.
King, P. M., & Kitchener, K.S. (1994). Developing reflective judgment: Understanding and promoting intellectual growth and critical thinking in adolescence and adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
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