Tag Archives: administrative authority

Assignment 8B

The concept of “Questioning Authority” means how authority is looked upon, in contrast to how it should be. By saying this I mean, that Meszaros reading includes different ways of how authority is used. For example to undergraduate students, and how students interpret authority. She includes the differentiation between who authority is granted to and who deserves more authority. Authority by context is the power or right to give orders, and have underdogs (in this case students) respond to those orders with obedience. Often authority is used in the form, “what Patrick Wilson (1991) calls “administrative authority”- an authority ‘one has by virtue of occupying a position”…an authority that faculty possesses as the wielder of the grade” (Meszaros, p. 6). It is shown how authority can be simply used as power, the possessor of grades. Because of this students look to their professors/faculty members for help, instead of librarians who possess true knowledge of proper education and methods to searching.

The ways students see authority is either through dualism or multiplicity. Basically students do not know how to go to librarians to find credible sources. They go to their faculty members and professors, who apparently to them hold validated authority. According to Meszaros dualists, “believe in ‘authority”, but they believe as children believe. They do not base authority claims on intellectual expertise” (Meszaros, p. 7). Dualists in a sense do not pay attention to the intelligence behind the authoritative figure, they only depend on their high position. On the other hand multiplicities “for them, everyone has a right to an opinion and all opinions are equally valid” (Meszaros, p. 7). Multiplicities see authority as not having a high position, but by having high opinion. Both of these forms of interpreted authority do not help students. How could assuming a position is completely valid, or believing only your own opinion is right be helpful?
However from a valid academic standpoint, Meszaros explains that she wants students to look at authority as an intellectual asset. Instead of having students see faculty as a stronger authority, they should see librarians as just the same level of authority. For example in the context of finding valid information, Librarians could focus less on teaching to find sources, while focusing more on finding credible sources. Librarians and faculty members should work together to help students see authority as cognitive, a way to find knowledge.

Assignment 8B

Marybeth Meszaro’s article talks about authority in terms of learning and information. She starts out her article explaining that she is puzzled that librarians sometime blame themselves when students do not use their resources to their full advantage. She also explains that there is an assumption that the faculty commands more authority than librarians.  This type of authority is what Patrick Wilson calls “administrative authority”. What this means is that students of undergraduates attribute most administrative authority to faculty as faculty controls their grade. There is a crisis as Meszaro explains that this distinction between authority causes students to favor and respect only certain opinions and this reinforces a question in authority. The author suggests that faculty and librarians should join forces and lean towards a more cognitive authority and thus this will be a better approach for students. The cognitive authority should focus less on “issues of access and retrieval and more on student attitudes and beliefs about knowledge”.


Assignment 8B: “Questioning Authority”

In the journal entry “Who’s in Charge here? Authority, Authoritativeness, and the Undergraduate Researcher”, Meszaros describes different factors involving Authority between teachers, librarians, and their students.  One factor she speaks of is what a majority of students think of their faculty members within their school. Meszaros proposes her thoughts about undergraduate students who turn to their peers, or other faculty members rather than a helpful librarian for assistance in research. She continues to explain the different type of authority that undergraduates typically ascribe to faculty which is called “administrative authority”. Administrative authority is defined as “one has by virtue of occupying a position”.One’s moral behavior determines one’s occupancy. When students “listen”, they do so largely because they believe they must in order to receive a satisfactory grade” (pg.6, para.4).When students pay attention to their professors, it is largely because they are afraid for their grades and they want to get a good grade. Students don’t necessarily listen to their professors because of their expertise, but because of the control they have on their grades.

Meszaros also mentions this in her journal entry, “Their adherence to faculty instructions is not necessarily based on a recognition of their professor’s “cognitive authority,” defined by Wilson (1991, p. 259), as an authority based on expertise” (pg. 6, para.4).  Students only adhere to their teachers directions not because they care of their background and skillfulness or who they are in general but, because at the end of the day they are just trying to pass.  This also ties into how many students do not go to librarians for help. 

A different type of authority that should be recognized is called “cognitive authority”, which is an authority based on expertise. Patrick Wilson developed the term cognitive authority and explains “people construct knowledge in two different ways: based on their first-hand experience or on what they have learned second-hand from others.” What people learn first-hand depends on the stock of ideas they bring to the interpretation and understanding of their encounters with the world. People primarily depend on others for ideas as well as for information outside the range of direct experience. Meszaros believes librarians should teach students “respect and passion for cognitive authority” as well as show students how to formulate opinions about knowledge and who’s behind it as opposed to just settling for whatever students can find first. Because students view people of authority (professors) as their source of knowledge , they believe they are reliable because of the degree, the title the professors holds, therefore any one with authority should have the skills, “expertise” to rely on them most. Students need to be taught how to evaluate and use information. Students should question who is providing them with their information because whoever is giving them this information may or may not know a lot about a certain topic. There’s a difference between memorizing information and understanding information.