Essay Format

The Measure of Intellectual Development (MID), formerly the “Instrument of Educational, Personal, and Vocational Concerns” or the “KneWi,” was created in 1974 by L. Lee Knefelkamp and Carole Widick at the University of Minnesota. The original instrument, consisting of two different essays and a set of sentence completion stems, was the first significant alternative to interviews in assessing the Perry scheme, and the MID continues to be one of the primary research instruments for the Perry scheme.


Over the years, work at the University of Maryland, Alverno College, and the Center has refined and standardized the rating criteria for the instrument, now consisting of a series of separate (and separately rated) essay probes covering a variety of content domains but no sentence stems. The vast bulk of the research work done to date has utilized three major essay stems:


  • essay A (“best class”)
  • essay AP (“ideal learning environment”)
  • essay Q (“self-as-learner” post-course self-evaluation)


All of these prompts focus on general epistemology with respect to learning environments. However, the essay, like the interview, can be modified and adapted, and the Center continues to seek and support work on alternative essays addressing different domains, with the second most popular area being essay C (developed by Ron Slepitza and L. Lee Knefelkamp in 1976) on epistemology concerning career issues. Other examples of variant essay topics include women’s issues, the role of student leaders, and medical school education.


Like the interview protocol, the MID must be scored by trained raters. For most formal research projects (as well as dissertations or theses), the procedure strongly recommended is the use of two raters who each independently rate each essay and then arrive at a single, reconciled rating. For less formal projects, or in the case of large-scale studies with budget constraints, other alternatives are possible: a single rater only, or reconciled double ratings on only a sub-sample of the total group. In any case, the ratings must be done through the Center or by raters approved by the Center. Current rating costs for the MID are $3.00 per essay protocol for single ratings ($6.00 per respondent for double ratings).  Further information on the measure, including reliability and validity data, can be found in the instrument manual available from CSID for $10 plus postage.


Because of the complexity of the rating process and the time involved in learning how to rate, we normally recommend that the most cost-effective way of scoring is to use the Center. However, we do also offer a rater-training workshop for institutions with a long-term assessment commitment and an interest in a serious, in-depth understanding of the Perry scheme. In the past, we have conducted this workshop for a variety of institutions and organizations around the country, including Moorpark College (CA), the University of South Florida, the University of Maryland, the Washington Center for the Improvement of Undergraduate Education, and the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Memphis State University. Please contact CSID if you would like more information about the rater training workshop.

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