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Development of the Theory of Faculties and its Application to Educational and Professional Activity

2010
Department: Faculty of Psychology

Despite recognition of the fact that faculties are one of the main determinants of human activity efficiency, until now, both world and Russian psychology has had no conventional opinion about the substantive definition of what the essence of faculties actually is. According to S. Rubinstein, the term “faculties” in definitions presented in academic literature means only that these faculties are a pre-condition of success in operations, but there is nothing that actually describes these faculties. Developing a theory of faculties assumes, first and foremost, the disclosure of the content of the notion of faculty.

Russian psychology has recently made a step towards resolving this issue. Among the papers in this field, we highlight the theory of faculties developed by V. Shadrikov that complies with the criteria of Hall and Lindsay for including academic results into psychological theory.

However a number of effects resulting from the developed theory of faculties require further experimental testing. The same applies to the possibility of using the developed theory in applications related to educational and professional activity, which determines the goals and tasks of this research.

The purpose of this research was to study a set of problems related to the examination of the role of subjectivity in faculty development.

This purpose was made concrete in the following tasks of the research:

1. Theoretical justification and experimental testing of the manifestation of subjectivity in the process of faculty fulfillment.

2. Examining the role of reflexive mechanisms in faculty structure.

3. Determining the place of faculties in the structure of pedagogical activity.

4. Developing a methodological foundation for the development of faculties in the educational process.

The subject of the research is a system complex of cognitive faculties, the subjectivity and reflections of secondary school students.

This research is a continuation of the 2008 project “Development of Intellectual Operations as Foundation of Forming Individual’s Cognitive Faculties” and the 2009 project “Development of Cognitive Faculties among Secondary School Students”.

This research included two main stages:

During the first stage of the research, we determined the interplay between the mastery process of main intellectual operations and development level of subjectivity and reflexivity among students of various age groups. This part of the research was aimed at further development of the theory of faculties, worked out in Institute for Educational Studies at NRO HSE.

In compliance with the main goal of the research, during the second stage of the project, we set and resolved the following tasks:

1. Theoretical justification and experimental testing of subjectivity manifestation in the process of development of faculties.

2. Analysis and study of the role of reflexive mechanisms in the structure of faculties.

3. Determining the place of faculties in the structure of pedagogical activity.

4. Developing methodological foundations for the development of faculties in the teaching process.

The results lead to the following conclusions:

1) Having carried out a theoretical analysis of such categories as subject and subjectivity as well as an analysis of the specifics of student activity aimed at purposeful mastery of intellectual operations, we selected as the main indicators the following indicators of subjectivity, manifested in the process of development of faculties (mastery of intellectual operations) in the educational activity of school students:

- General intelligence;

- Reflexivity;

- Motivation orientation of an individual towards obtaining success;

- Willpower regulation of behavior (internality, internal control locus).

2) Between all subjective qualities, selected in theoretical analysis, statistically significant positive correlations were formed. Most of them are significant at p <0.001. Thus, it is experimentally verified that together they constitute a single, qualitatively specific system - subjectivity, which is a single systemic property, or a quality of personality, having a structure that performs certain functions and expressed to different extent in different people. Moreover the results indicate that the isolated subjective characteristics are closely related to intellectual performance, which can also be included in the general structure of subjectivity, which is manifested in the development of faculties (mastery of intellectual operations).

As all identified intra-systemic correlations in subjectivity structure are positive, we can say that the better a specific subjective quality is developed in a subject, the higher the general subjectivity level, including its other indicators.

It is important to emphasize that this fact is of fundamental importance, since it confirms the real existence of such a systemic quality as subjectivity. In addition, it suggests the direct influence of subjectivity, as a system of personal qualities, on the success of intellectual activity. Earlier, such qualities as subjectivity were distinguished and described mainly at the theoretical level, while in this paper, it has received obvious experimental verification. Therefore, we were able to approach it from the practical side. By defining its main components (subjective qualities), the structure and function, we can rely on it in real activity, i.e. contribute to its development, and thus determine the success of the activities where it is in evidence.

3) The obtained results identify internality and internal control locus as the basic subjective characteristic. This subjective characteristic has the highest weight in the subjectivity structure, which is manifested in mastering faculties, and can serve as foundation for the integration of other components of the structure. It is important to highlight that such quality as internality determines the faculty for willful, conscious and purposeful behavior regulation, which represents the substantive foundation of subjectivity. Countering external and internal conditions that hamper self-development and self-realization is done by human will. In this light, it is only logical that internality (high level of subjective control) serves as a structural factor.

4) Students of the groups with better developed intellectual faculties are to a greater extent motivated for success in educational and cognitive activity and are more inclined to take responsibility for the education process and its results. At the same time they are more prone to reflect on their activity and its results. Therefore we can make an important conclusion that in addition to the techniques facilitating mastering of intellectual operations by students, the program aimed at purposeful development of these operations should include the elements that enhance motivation for success in general and success in educational activity in particular.