Personal and professional judgment

Ken writes in his Judgment Day:

John’s use of the biblical quotes are interesting. They sound like a prohibition on passing judgements, or, maybe a warning that if one does choose to speak out one’s judgements then one must accept the possibility of being held to account for the very things one is using to judge others. Perhaps interpretivism has its roots here, in the sense that, perhaps one should not be judgemental of another until they “walk a mile in the other’s mocassins“.

Would it depend whether judgement is based personally or professionally?
on professional judgment, teachers have been trained, encouraged and passed professional judgment to decide on the competency of the candidates. This way of judgment has been used for decades, especially under the paradigm of competency based training and assessment. Within this framework, knowledge and skills could be transferred and acquired through training and development. How does this compare to the connective knowledge, where it emerged out of the interactions/connections rather than acquired or transferred from one person to another like a thing? How would you make your judgment? On personal basis?

10 thoughts on “Personal and professional judgment

  1. Good questions about judgement in general. But would assessment be the more appropriate term when it comes to the evaluation of knowledge transfer? Doesn’t the word judgement imply a moral assessment, in addition to a competency assessment? Are you comparing apples to oranges?

    And I wonder about your assumptions. When you say that connective knowledge emerged out of interaction rather than being transferred from person to person what do you mean?

    In ‘connectivist’ courses (eg. CritLit2010) material was presented via suggested readings and the interactions were primarily around those readings. Was the knowledge in those resources/readings transferred to the participants? It certainly didn’t emerge, it was provided at the beginning. So where is the emergency in that?

  2. Assessment is an evaluation of the evidence collected, which forms the basis of professional judgment. In order to ensure a fair and objective assessment is made, performance (or assessment) criteria are typically used in a competency based assessment. The judgment of competency could also be made based on the evidences provided or collected from a number of sources – instructor’s and assessor’s assessment, supervisor’s assessment, peer assessment, self-assessment etc. There are also assessment moderation and validation used to ensure the judgment made are uniform and made on sufficient, authentic, valid and reliable evidences. In the case of professional assessment – a judging panel is formed to conduct the assessment.

    Would we need to distinguish judgment accordingly to the nature of judgment needed? There are personal judgment which involves an informal/formal evaluation on the credibility and validity of “ideas”, people’s views and perspectives, and information. There are moral judgment which involves an evaluation of “beliefs”, “acts of people” or incidences.

    I quoted what Stephen was referring to when it comes to connective knowledge – where new knowledge emerged from the connections and interactions. That was my understanding under connectivism. The argument on the emergence of new knowledge could relate to new findings, understanding and interpretations of existing “knowledge” and information. Our discussion on “why the sky is blue” and “Having Reasons” by Stephen Downes may be an example where each of us shared our views and debated on what “interesting learning” means.
    The questions you have raised are exactly what I would like to explore further. I could see the significance and limitations of one-way formal traditional knowledge transfer where people take the validity, accuracy and reliability of information (or knowledge as defined) for granted, without any community review or validation.
    How would one be able to make judgment as an “expert”? Would this require further “qualification” and validation?

    Thanks Ken for your interesting questions and further insights.


  3. Well, I don’t see how it ever was the case that an expert only became an expert after ‘formal traditional knowledge transfer’ occurred. I think experts always gained that label only after a few further things occurred, such as experience, creativity, advancement and research in their field. This ‘one-way transfer’ idea that you find so flawed seems to me to be only a base camp of knowledge from which further exploration occurs, including even ‘an exploration of the fundamental assumptions of the knowledge held in the base camp itself’. Certainly, experts undergo qualification (accreditation) and validation (peer review) during the process of becoming experts, don’t they?

    How can one begin to be critical of ‘base knowledge’ unless one possesses some base knowledge in the first place, like for instance the ability to communicate? And isn’t base knowledge ‘transferred’? And if the word transferred is considered flawed as a description of knowledge sharing, how about the word adopted? As in knowledge (of a language) becomes adopted by a user? As in knowledge (of Euclidian geometry) becomes adopted by a user? So that the user can locate and converse, etc. Even if, as a young person, one is forced to make these adoptions by the culture/society/educational system one is born into.

    For example, I was forced to study equations related to parabolic curves during high school. I had no idea why this was required. And when I asked why, I was given explanations of the usages of parabolic curves in real items such as flashlights. Had I been driven to become an expert in parabolas and/or flashlights, I think this base knowledge would have been useful.

  4. Hi Ken,
    Great questions, and wonderful elaborations.
    Some knowledge – like procedural and content knowledge can be “adopted” and “assimilated”, as they may be the based knowledge too. How about the “knowledge” that is embedded in semiotics, semantics, syntax, pragmatics, linguistics? Would these be part of the “elements” of communication which are interconnected to each other? How were we taught in our early days? Would these be simplified in order for us to understand? Yes, those were the basics that we might have absorbed and refined throughout our stages of development in learning, whereas we could now communicate more effectively without even consciously aware of them (i.e. the unconsciousness stage of learning).
    The masters wont’ necessarily have to resort to the basic procedural or content knowledge for solving complicated and complex problems. Most possess intuition and tacit knowledge, who could readily apply creative ideas, advanced skills and experience, or heuristics in novel situations. Issac Stern is an exemplary model of mastery in this case.
    In the video, Issac pointed out the drawbacks of a mechanistic way of teaching and learning, where the learners just follow the “notes” in playing out the music, with too little emphasis of creativity and not using the heart and mind in playing out the spirit of music.
    I am an amateur in music, and I only know how to play harmonica. I haven’t gone through any music training. However, I think the spirit of music is similar to that of our learning of many subjects that we have learnt, like the Mathematics, even in our University courses. We might have learnt the technical parts – solving of problems using advanced calculus, complex integration, Fourier Transforms, matrix, statistics, etc. They are important for Mathematicians and Engineers. But, it takes more years of experiences and application before one could become a mastery of those subjects, as we need to apply them in more novel situations to fully master the “organic parts” of the subject matter.
    In the video and this one (a part of the whole video) Issac mentioned that the musical instrument is just a means to an end. Similarly, the tools (Web 2.0, language, words, or the semantics, syntax etc.) we are using in communication are just the means to achieve effective communication. If I communicate my ideas to you, what does it mean? I might have used the mechanistic part of communication only, and thus have just played out the note to you in a boring way – the lecturing. How could I do it better? How about a story? How about a video? How about a debate or critique on a topic or issue?
    Would that be the typical limitations of direct transfer of knowledge in adult learning? Were the learners encouraged to think more deeply in the knowledge “transfer” process? Were creativity encouraged in learning? Did the learners know how to apply knowledge in novel situations? What were missing in the traditional base camp teaching?
    May I share this with you? What do you think?

  5. You have struck the chord. Is it a procedural knowledge? If yes, what do you think the depth of knowledge required? What is most important is not the how, but why? I could do a multiplication table with Chinese through rote learning – just recite the multiple table and that’s perfect. I found it easy to use Cantonese to do such multiplication. However, I found it extremely difficult to recite multiplication table in English, a second language for me. I don’t know why, but the pattern doesn’t fire up in my mind.
    May I share these anecdotes with you? I had to recite poets in front of the teachers (the principal) and classmates as young as 6 year old in English, my second language. I was required to know how to recite my prayer within 1 to 2 days of learning at the age of 6. That was a compulsory assignment. Starting in our primary school – at the age of 6 -7, I needed to submit all assignments on time. Any late or absent assignments would not be allowed, and there would be detention after school in order to complete the assignments (at the age of 6-7). And I could still remember how I would be expected to spell all the basic English words at the age of 9 to 10 (Grade 3 to 4), and there would be penalty for not being able to do so. Dictation was an important subject and the expectation from my parents was 100% (or at least 80% to 90% with 5% deduction per spelling mistakes). These were still vivid in my memory. So, would this make us stronger in the knowledge transfer?

  6. >What is most important is not the how, but why?

    I suppose that some decisions are made by ‘experts’, society, educators, what have you, about why a particular subject is important. And I suppose these values change with time. And I suppose that memorization is a form of creating neural connections in the individual. And repetition probably strengthens those connections. I find that my previous memorization of these tables is useful when I don’t have a calculator present: I can see the answers without making the calculation. Handy skill to have.

    I am still thinking that we should move away from the concept ‘knowledge transfer’ into something like ‘knowledge adoption’ or ‘knowledge assimilation’ or even ‘programming’. KT seems to invoke huge meta-arguments about the ‘thingness’ of knowledge, which in my opinion leads down a path that is not contributing to understanding, rather, it takes us off-topic. Does it really matter so much whether we think of knowledge as a thing or not? It manifests itself in and as things, at the least, but why worry about whether ‘thingularity’ applies to knowledge?

    But then on the other hand, knowledge adoption still may be suggestive of knowledge ‘thingularity’. As a young student, I would be adopting a chunk of knowledge, which could be labelled a thing. Can someone remind me why it is wrong to think of knowledge as a thing? Granted, a changing thing, chaotic, complex etc. But still, isn’t knowledge material?

  7. Hi Ken,
    That’s how we would like to perceive – is knowledge a thing? Is knowledge material? Can knowledge be sensed? Does it really matter whether we think of knowledge as a thing or not?
    When we were young, our knowledge was “measured” and “evaluated”, based on certain criteria. Such knowledge “test” were sometimes norm based, with a percentage mark as the average – where above average (say 50%) may be the passing mark, and below average is a failure. There were also knowledge test which were criterion based, with the meeting of certain assessment criteria (on knowledge and skills) as the basis of competency. Now, it seems that most knowledge tests have been based principally on a competency based, though you could have a combination when it comes to HSC (Higher School Certificate).
    For adult education, we measure knowledge “acquisition” based on the achievement of performance criteria, which are related to the elements of the units of competency (the knowledge, skills and sometimes the attitudes involved in the units) under competency based education and training.
    In HE and professional organisations or association, there has been a long debate on whether competency based criteria is the most appropriate way to assess knowledge and competency. Some HE is willing to take on the competency basis as a criteria of judgment, but when it comes to graduate degrees like Master and Doctorate, then competency has been deemed to narrow in focus, and too restrictive in its definition. How would creativity be defined under a competency based education? Also some of the knowledge are falling under the tacit knowledge domain and could not be easily explained in specific terms. This is why knowledge is not that well defined – and it could even become a subjective perception, where artistic and creative elements go beyond the present knowledge framework.
    The concept of capability and capacity seems to be more appropriate for some disciplines in HE, as competency has been considered to be too static (i.e. static knowledge and skills, and thus not current).
    Is knowledge material? Would it depend on the context?

  8. The ‘thingularity’ of knowledge seems to be of great importance in connectivism as that theory doesn’t seem to want to recognize knowledge as a thing.

    At least that is my understanding of connectivist knowledge, today. ‘Knowledge can be acquired through connections’ is about all connectivism has to say about knowledge, and I find the statement to lack utiilty. Like I already knew that. hahaha

    For me, knowledge is material. I can sense it. I can read about it, hear about it, know that I have it (tacitly). Knowledge can be tranferred, transmitted, adopted, located. Don’t you agree?

  9. That’s a big question! I have thought about knowledge from different perspectives, and have come to my conclusion that knowledge is perceived differently by different people, and that there is no one definition that could embrace it all, like quality.
    In Chinese, knowledge means recognize and distinguish it (the patterning) – which would normally associate it as a noun. Then whether we know it or not is based on the “depth of knowledge” and expertise one has – the pattern recognition ability and capability.
    Based on my above perceptions on knowledge, some knowledge is material, and some isn’t material based. Knowledge based on information could be material. Knowledge based on belief or faith is not necessarily material based, but through some “thinking, reflection, meditation or spiritual growth and development” process or an observation of an event, or others sharing. Intuitive knowledge (the power of knowing or understanding something immediately without reasoning or being taught) may also be based on past experience, that is not necessarily material based.
    So procedural and content knowledge may be material based, where new connective knowledge could be emergent and not material based, as I understand it.
    Is connective knowledge material based? You have to ask Stephen.

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