Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Herbert Exum, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Debbie Osborn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Roger Boothroyd, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wilma Henry, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Carlos Zalaquett, Ph.D.


Learning Environment Preferences, Intellectual Development, Perry Scheme, Age, Gender, Ethnicity, Epistemological Development, Clinical Supervision, Human Services Experience, Education


For this study, a web-based survey method was used as a means of collecting data to test a predictive model of education, supervised clinical experience (SCE), age, human services experience (HSE) and cognitive complexity. The theoretical framework for the study was Perry's (1970; 1999) scheme of intellectual development. The sample consisted of 332 counseling and social work students in graduate training programs in four different regions of the United States. The instruments used in the study were a researcher-developed demographic questionnaire and the Learning Environment Preferences (LEP) instrument (Moore, 1987). The results of the hierarchical regression analysis indicated that education and human services experience predicted a significant proportion of the variance in cognitive complexity. However, age and supervised clinical experience did not significantly predict any of the variance in cognitive complexity.

Additional analyses were conducted to examine the effects of gender, ethnicity, programs, and earned degrees on a measure of cognitive complexity. Results of the Analyses of Variance (ANOVAs) did not reveal significant gender, ethnicity, program differences; however, as expected there were differences in terms of previously earned degree. Students who previously earned master's degrees had significantly higher cognitive complexity scores than students who had only earned a bachelor's degree.

This study provided partial support for Perry's theory of intellectual development. The study also has implications for supervision, education and training of students in counseling and related fields.