Perry's theory and Belenky's criticisms
<Lisa and Catriona>

There are many different ideas of high and low quality learning in education, especially further education. Perry constructed a theory of low and high quality knowledge which is instilled in students in universities, while Belenky criticised these claims and created the theory of separated and connected learning. While there are many other ideas of high and low quality learning such as Marton's theory of deep and shallow learning, mastery learning, and Laurillard's theory, this essay will concentrate on Perry's original claims and Belenky's criticisms and adaptations.

PerryType AType BType C

Perry's work on the development of learning highlighted some areas of concern in education including subject content, critical thinking, and personal development. Despite Perry's claims which continue to be a main reference point for learning in higher education, they have been challenged by others including Schommer and Belenky.

Belenky et al's theory highlights two ways of learning, separate learning and connected learning. Belenky et al offer a feminist rebuttal to Perry’s male dominated perspective.

Separate learning is where you express analytical thinking and the main goal is to acquire knowledge. It appears Cartesian in design because with separate learning, to learn anything, one has to assume that everyone else is wrong. It seems that this way of learning may be beneficial to students because they don’t have to accept everything that anyone says and they are always trying to criticize theories. With this form of learning, it seems that it wouldn’t be very deep because it would seem that they would just need the knowledge until they have achieved the goal of having the knowledge, e.g. an exam.

However, connected learning is where you learn by personal experience, not just your own but other too. Therefore you have to be able to trust what others say and believe that they know what they are saying to be true. This type of learning seems to go against logical thinking, however, it also makes sense in the way that learners communicate and share ideas often and it seems to improve learning strategies.

Belenky et al and Perry's views are similar in the way that gaining knowledge from others in connected learning is similar to where Perry described his dualism which involves accepting knowledge from authorities and believing them, it seems without question. However, Belenky et al did not necessarily say that connected knowledge had to come from an authority.

In conclusion, it appears that there are similarities between Perry and Belenky et al. However, these similarities are met each time with a stark contrast. Both offer ways of deep and shallow learning.


Best thing - Good details, and very well clarified descriptions of the theories. Good intro and flow. Also good examples of comparisons that could be used with the other theories.
Worst thing - Seems to end quite abruptly leaving the conclusion less complete than the rest.
Other comments - Very manageable way to put the info while still maintaining a sense of a plan. This could be incorporated with the other stuff easily and therefore provides a good resource.

Lisa: Best thing - Clearly structured plan which is easy to use and can pick out information needed easily. Content is understandable and manageable. Worst thing - not enough examples of wider reading. Conclusion is lacking so to rectify this, bring more info into it to offer an overall answer to the question set.

Fran- Best: Very well structured and organised, flowed well and easy to read. Good descriptions and contrasts. Improvement: Again, I think the conclusion is very short and needs development. Perhaps by contrasting the theories by using examples could help develop the essay further.

Iain -

Good Points - Good structure, answers question directly, with good explanations of ideas.

Bad Points -Again conclusion too brief, but could be changed by adding more to the main body.

Jen - Good points: Good explanation, especially of Perry's model. Good that the focus of the other essays from your group are mentioned in the intro, even though it is not expanded on.

Not so good points: The Belenky model doesn't seem to go into as much detail. The conclusion seems too abrupt, it could be improved.


Good: Its to the point and provides a good comprehension of the models. Well structured.

Improvements: Too concise in areas. Good background research, but needs more detail. The essay stops too abruptly.

Good - good flow and links well together, introduction clearly sets out essay plan
Bad - conclusion is a bit short, more discussion could be planned for an exam

Katherine - I liked this a lot because it was really clear, straight to the point (without really missing out anything), and overall had a really good structure. It could maybe have been embellished a weee bit, since it was a tiny bit short, but it still managed to cover a lot of points. Also, the conclusion perhaps needs to encapsualte more of what was covered - but overall, the material was quite wide, it was interesting to read, and it was emprically supported and nicely structured.


+ Clear, covers everything, great structure.

- Conclusion could be developed.


Good - A very clear plan, I like the amount of detail given of each model. Also like that you mention that there are a number of models outwith what you are discussing, but that these are the main focus.

Not-so-good - Ends very abruptly, with no real conclusion, and so no real answer to the question. Related to this, a bit more in the way of criticism/discussion would be nice, thought that may make it too long. Also, it is very clear the first half (Perry) and second half (Belenky) have been written by two different people (though this wouldn't be an issue in an exam).

Angela Thumath:

Good Points: In terms of revising for an exam this will be a useful resource. It clearly and concisely overviews these two theories and directly answers the questions.

Improvements: As has been said, it is clear that this is written by two separate people and the flow could be better, also the plan/ essay seems to be left hanging with no real conclusion critical thinking. However, it provides good detail and overview of the topics. Something I will definently use for revision.

Manus Cross

Best Points: Great descriptions of both models, very clear and concise, easy to follow and well structured, seems to comprehensively cover all points of the model.

Worst points: While the descriptions were very clear and concise, there is little in terms of evidence presented either for or against each model of learning (aside from the fact that one is essentially a response or a rethinking of the other). It might be useful to bring in other sources and references in order to further examine the models discussed. The conclusion is also a bit short, but this is just a plan.

Other: the intro seems to tick a lot of boxes, but maybe some examples might be useful in order to add to your descriptions of high and low learning, and to create a good starting point. The mention of the other theories is a further good point.