The effects of field dependent/independent style awareness on learning strategies and outcomes in an instructional hypermedia module
Clifford Omodele Fyle, The Florida State University, United States
The Florida State University . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to examine whether field-dependent/independent style awareness affects learning outcomes and learning strategies used in a hypermedia instructional module. Field-dependent/independent style was measured using the Global Embedded Figures Test. Style awareness meant that students were provided with information and explanations about their individual cognitive styles and the learning strategies that accommodate those styles. The study entailed examining students’ achievement in a multiple-choice test and performance in a design task, and also their navigation patterns as they studied a science-oriented Webquest.
The sample consisted of 149 eighth-grade students in 10 sections of a science class taught by two teachers in a public middle school. A two-group posttest-only design on one factor (style awareness) was used. Sixty-eight students in five sections of the class were assigned to the treatment group (field dependent/independent style awareness) while the other 81 students in five sections were assigned to the control group (no field dependent/independent style awareness). The study took place over a period of 6 days. On the first day, students in the treatment group were first tested and debriefed on their individual styles. Next, all students in both the treatment and control groups studied the hypermedia instructional module (Webquest) over a period of two days. On the fourth and fifth days students worked on the performance tasks, and on the sixth day students took the multiple-choice test and students in the control group were tested and debriefed on their individual styles.
The findings indicate that style awareness significantly influenced the learning strategies of field-dependent students as they studied and carried out learning tasks in the Webquest. Field-dependent students with style awareness used hypertext links and navigated the menu sequentially a greater number of times than their counterparts with no style awareness. Correspondingly, there were no significant findings for field-independent students of the effects of style awareness on learning strategies.
The findings also revealed significant differences in terms of style awareness and its interactions with achievement on the multiple-choice test. Both field-dependent and field-independent students with style awareness achieved higher scores than their counterparts who received no style awareness. There were however no significant findings with respect to the effects of style awareness on performance on the design task. Overall this study demonstrated that providing middle-school students with cognitive-style awareness training can improve both their academic performance as well as enable them to adopt more effective learning strategies when learning in hypermedia environments.
Fyle, C.O. The effects of field dependent/independent style awareness on learning strategies and outcomes in an instructional hypermedia module. Ph.D. thesis, The Florida State University.
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