Tag Archives: Meszaros

Assignment #8B

Meszaros journal article, “Who’s in Charge Here? Authority Authoritativeness, and the Undergraduate Researcher” mentions questioning authority. Meszaros demonstrates how novice researchers only focus on administrative authority, ignoring crucial facts. For example, students are only focused on getting a good grade and in order to accomplish it. They will blindly follow the direction given by their professors, ignoring whether they should question the instructions.

Personal epistemology theory, which is based on subsequent cognitive development researchers show there are two types of young adults. Dualist, who will believe anything they’re told by “authority” without researching themselves. While Multiplists, believe that anyone’s opinion is valid. A young adult who is a dualist and a multiplist is not enough. Young adults don’t take it upon themselves to researcher the knowledge they acquire. These filters hinder the way a students can and should analyze information. Meszaros mentions that these student should question the authority, and question the knowledge the “authority” claims.

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.

Assignment #8B

In the Meszaros’ reading, the concept of “Questioning Authority”  means in academia there is an underlying hierarchy of authority figures where faculty such as professors are seen as more authoritative than librarians when it comes to research.  This concept creates a problem for the faculty, librarians, and students involved.  The reading points out how bizarre, but commonplace, it is for undergraduates to turn to faculty and peers for resourceful information regarding research than to seek help from librarians.  However, students don’t listen to their professors because they believe the information they convey, they do it because professors grade their work.   Meszaro states, “To be sure, faculty may be recognized by their peers as cognitive authorities, but that recognition does not necessarily entail recognition by novices.”  Young adults tend to question the credibility of faculty because they are dualists or multiplists.  Students don’t realize that librarians are trained and educated in research and that they can be helpful, they think opinions can be valid, and don’t feel the need to see supporting evidence.  Meszaros thinks the solution to the concept is for librarians to understand students attitudes and perceptions of knowledge, expertise, and cognitive authority, and to help faculty teach students more beneficial ways to conduct research.