Page: 71-79 Author: Veselský, M. Key words: level ofthinkingat university students, students‘ successfulness inIPDT, cognitive development
The purpose of the article is to draw attention to the possibilities offered by the exploitation of IPDT as a means to specify the level of thinking of university students in the sense derived from J. Piaget s theory of cognitive development and also to compare the quality of the thinking of students studying the teaching of natural science subjects today with the quality of the same group 15 years ago. Investigation of this theme was stimulated by the results of more than one research project showing that a large proportion of university students, above all the first years, have difficulties in the application of abstract thinking and the full exploitation of formal intellectual operations.
This article presents results obtained by giving an IPDT test to students embarking on studies at the Natural Sciences Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava in 1993 and 2007. This comparison suggests a decline in the standard of thinking of students between these two dates, above all from the point of view of the development of formal operations. In 1993, 85.2 % of the students starting on degree courses (96.6 % of boys and 81.0 % of girls) fulfilled the criteria for success in this test, which indicates mastery of a certain standard of formal thinking. In the group of students starting courses in 2007 a total of 75.3 % students fulfilled these criteria (82.5 % of boys and 68.3 % of girls). The difference between boys and girls in the characteristics tested in both groups was another finding. The article also presents a comparison of success in the IPDT test between students of teaching at the Comenius University Natural History Faculty in Bratislaa and students at some other Slovak universities and faculties. In line with expectations, the best results were achieved by students of mathematics, information technology and natural science teaching fields, where there is an assumed correlation between success in studies and mastery of formal intellectual operations. A relatively high position was achieved by law students, who have have to go through a very competitive admissions procedure because of strong interest in the course.
The article concludes that the degree to which university students manage to apply formal thinking relates both to the chosen field of studies and the overall interest of students in a particular field of studies. And thus also with the degree of selection (competition) of students in admissions procedure. It also indicates other possible interpretation. The finding on the insufficient development of formal thinking in many adolescents would alert teachers to the need to devote more attention to graphic illustration in teaching at secondary school. The author draws attention to the need for changes in IPDT to balance the ratio of questions representing concrete and formal thinking and to ensure that it is usable at wide intervals in the life of the individual.