Date of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Philosophy, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

David Drew

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Susan J. Paik

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

DeLacey Ganley

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Robert Kegan

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2021 Sigmond Kal Shore All Rights Reserved


A summary report of a six-year long multi-national research collaboration conducted by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), referenced Kegan’s ‘self- authoring order of mental complexity’ (also known as ‘self-authoring consciousness’) – as, overall, the capacity most needed “for a successful life and a well-functioning modern society”.

And yet, research efforts have shown that the vast majority of adults have not developed to the self-authoring stage. Furthermore, only a single published intervention and no scalable interventions whatsoever, have successfully promoted its development within an enrolled sample, relative to a control group.

Considering this challenge, the current study evaluated whether an online Harvard University course, whose pedagogic design was informed by both theoretically-endorsed, as well as empirically- tested developmental factors, would promote the development of self-authoring consciousness.

In this experiment, levels of consciousness were assessed using a revised version of the Washington University Sentence Completion Test, and the incipient development of self-authoring consciousness was denoted by subjects’ having realized, at least, the associated 6th stage of ego development.

Pre/post assessments revealed a significant increase in overall consciousness and, specifically, in self-authoring consciousness amongst subjects enrolled in the tested intervention course (n=70), relative to changes observed within a control group (n=36). Of note, significant development was experienced by three sub-types targeted by the intervention, each of which has historically been very resistant to further growth –namely, individuals who pretested at the Self-Aware stage (Ego Stage 5), individuals who pretested at the Conscientious Stage (Ego Stage 6) and individuals who were more than 30 years of age.

The study also evaluated whether an enhanced version of the intervention course, that differed insofar as it assigned more frequent reflective journaling exercises, might catalyze a different degree of development amongst enrolled subjects. Results indicated that both versions of the intervention course promoted similar degrees of development. Further research that could identify which particular intervention course elements, activities and/or processes might have been especially responsible for the intervention’s transformational effects is recommended.

These findings demonstrate the possibility of promoting advanced consciousness, up to and even beyond the self-authoring level, via a scalable online intervention.