This study provides a description of the organization of dialectical thinking and its presence in mature thought. A dialectical schemata framework comprising 24 types of moves in thought that the dialectical thinker typically makes was derived from the dialectical philosophical perspective. This framework was used to interpret, code, and compare 27 interviews on the nature of education conducted with freshmen, seniors, and faculty members at a small, highly selective liberal arts college. Faculty members use a significantly (p < 0.01) broader range of dialectical schemata than do seniors, who in turn use a significantly (p < 0.01) broader range than do freshmen. The findings support the idea of a postformal-operational stage of cognitive organization based on the elaboration of dialectical thinking.

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