Progression of Development

Of special interest to this study is the progression of development outlined in Parks’s

(2011) forms of knowing (previously labeled as forms of cognition. Initially in this

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progression, an individual’s source of knowledge is found in an outside authority (e.g., God or

parents). Eventually, the self begins to replace preexisting authorities as the source of knowledge, and based on their personal convictions, individuals begin to take ownership of their

commitments relative to what they know and what they have experienced.

To better explain the challenges facing many emerging adults, Parks divided this

phase of meaning-making—which she labeled commitment within relativism—into two sub-

phases: probing commitment during which life’s obligations are still being explored, and tested

commitment during which a commitment to one particular option is displayed. Parks contended

that most emerging adults are in the process of moving from probing commitment to tested

commitment. At this stage, emerging adults ask such questions as, “Where do I put my stake in

the ground and invest my life?”. This question mirrors a similar question

proposed later by Arnett in his identification of characteristics of emerging adults: “What

kind of job would really fit me best, given my ability and interests?” Movement

through these elements of Parks’s forms of cognition/knowing—part of her overall Model of

Faith Development—reflects many college students’ explorations of calling and the search for a

vocational path that best aligns with their personal commitments, worthy ideas, and deeply held

values.

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