The cognitive development of women: a grounded theory derived from fiction
This research study was conducted in order to derive a theory of the cognitive development of women using novels of development written by women as a qualitative source of data. Two methodologies were employed. A modified Delphi technique was used to identify the novels to be included in the study. Six novels by twentieth-century American writers were selected. The primary methodology involved inductive analysis of the novels using the method of constant comparisons to derive a grounded theory of female cognitive development;The study resulted in four major findings: (a) Personal development is dependent upon and interrelated with cognitive development; (b) Women are in conflict with their environments and thus perceive their selves as divided; (c) The development of self-esteem, the use of concrete personal experience to understand abstract concepts, and the ability to perceive the self as part of an identifiable universal context are essential for the cognitive development of women; and (d) The development of self-esteem and cognition are dependent upon relationships of care;A theory of cognitive development derived from six novels was discussed in terms of sources of knowledge. The findings are consistent with selected research on the cognitive development of women. The findings were related to research and application in higher education.