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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cognitive strategies in judgment : the effect of purpose, cue dimensionality, and cognitive complexity on student evaluation of instructors Kishor, Nand


This investigation focused on describing cognition in performance judgment of teaching in higher education. The influence of appraisal purpose and cue dimensionality was observed on subjective importance and utilization of information. Information integration strategies were examined in relation to purpose and cognitive complexity. Exploratory analysis focused on the measurement of good instructor schema profiles, and on the effect of cognitive complexity on halo in performance ratings. Seventy subjects were assigned randomly to two purpose conditions in the experiment: summative and formative judgment. Two questionnaires, two rating tasks, and a Role Construct Repertory grid were adminstered for data collection. The data were analyzed through regression modeling at the individual level and via analysis of variance procedures at the group level. The results indicate that the impact of cue dimensions is strong on subjective importance and utilization of information but varies with the purpose of appraisal. Raters valued and utilized trait information more than behavior information in evaluation required for personnel decisions. Where evaluation was feedback on the quality of teaching and expressed the need for improvement, raters utilized behavior information more than trait information. This pattern of information utilization suggests that saliency of information in performance judgment is a function of purpose and cue dimensionality, and that appraisal purpose has an effect on raters' cognition through schematic processing. The results also show that the use of varied strategies in mentally integrating dimensions of information is affected by raters' cognitive complexity. Although subjects mainly used compensatory strategies, the complex individuals used noncompensatory strategies as well. Exploratory analysis shows that cognitive complexity also affects halo in rating judgments. The findings seem to support the validity of student rating of instructors, and the utility of cognitive complexity construct in understanding performance judgment. It is suggested that the influence of schematic processing and cue saliency be addressed in further theorizing and research on performance judgment. As well, the inclusion of purpose of judgment and developmental constructs, such as cognitive complexity, is recommended for theorizing and research on judgment processes.

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