Journal of Nursing Education

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The Interaction of Cognitive Style, Teaching Methodology and Cumulative GPA in Baccalaureate Nursing Students

C Lynne Ostrow, RN, EdD

Abstract

Introduction

A major principle in education of all students is to employ a teaching methodology appropriate to the subject matter and the individual student. There are many models of teaching methods available, as evidenced by Joyce and Weil's (1980) presentation of 28 different models. But how does a nursing faculty member decide which methodology to choose? What are the critical variables in instruction, the student, and the subject matter that interact consistently? What is the effect on various student outcomes of different instructional methods?

A great deal of time and energy are required to design instruction that is tailored to the individual needs of students. In the past, the research results have not documented a superiority of one method over another Costin, 1972; McKeachie, 1970). In the last ten years, a new instructional method has been developed, Keller's Personalized System of Instruction, that has a more promising potential. Kulik, Kulik and Cohens' (1979) meta-analysis of seventy-two different studies on PSI yielded results that demonstrated a superiority for PSI over other instructional methods on final examination scores, retention of knowledge, scores on essay questions and student evaluation of the course.

Students, also, have different styles of learning and preferences for instructional methods (KoIb, 1976; Messick, 1976; Witkin, Moore, Goodenough & Cox, 1977). It is not yet clear, however, what effect these cognitive or learning styles have on student performance. How different is the student's cognitive style from his or her intellectual abilities? What interaction exists between the cognitive style, intellectual ability of the student and the instructional method used to teach a particular subject? While there is much research available on one or two of these interactions, much less has been done on the interaction of all three, i.e., cognitive style, IQ, and teaching methodology.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the interaction of baccalaureate nursing students' cognitive style and cumulative GPA on exam performance, three month retention of knowledge and evaluation of the instructional method, PSI, or lecture. Senior nursing students in a baccalaureate program at a land grant university were the subjects in this study. The independent variable manipulated in this study was the instructional methodology - PSI or lecture. The blocking variables were student cognitive style and cumulative GPA. The dependent variables were scores on examination immediately following the experimental period and three months later and student evaluation of the teaching method.

Review of the Literature

There are many elements in a particular teaching methodology that can be analyzed. Some of the key elements in nursing education, in this author's view, are objectives, written materials given to students, communication between teacher and student, method of evaluation, and student outcomes. The two instructional methods researched in this study, PSI and lecture, differ on all of these elements.

Personalized System of Instruction (PSI)

The Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) was developed by Keller (1968) and implemented for the first time in a short-term laboratory course at Columbia University (Giese & Lawler, 1968). This methodology is based on reinforcement theory, i.e., the student is evaluated often on small units of material and given immediate feedback on his or her progress. It is distinguished from other instructional methodologies by the following characteristics:

1. mastery learning;

2. self-pacing;

3. use of proctors for testing and immediate feedback;

4. emphasis on the written word;

5. lecture and demonstrations as rewards.

This instructional methodology has been used in many different types of courses - Cross and Semb, 1976; Gindler, Marosz, and Romano, 1977; Hogstel, 1976; Johnson and Croft, 1976; Medio, Hursh, Folio and Watne, 1980. One of the major foci of PSI research…

Introduction

A major principle in education of all students is to employ a teaching methodology appropriate to the subject matter and the individual student. There are many models of teaching methods available, as evidenced by Joyce and Weil's (1980) presentation of 28 different models. But how does a nursing faculty member decide which methodology to choose? What are the critical variables in instruction, the student, and the subject matter that interact consistently? What is the effect on various student outcomes of different instructional methods?

A great deal of time and energy are required to design instruction that is tailored to the individual needs of students. In the past, the research results have not documented a superiority of one method over another Costin, 1972; McKeachie, 1970). In the last ten years, a new instructional method has been developed, Keller's Personalized System of Instruction, that has a more promising potential. Kulik, Kulik and Cohens' (1979) meta-analysis of seventy-two different studies on PSI yielded results that demonstrated a superiority for PSI over other instructional methods on final examination scores, retention of knowledge, scores on essay questions and student evaluation of the course.

Students, also, have different styles of learning and preferences for instructional methods (KoIb, 1976; Messick, 1976; Witkin, Moore, Goodenough & Cox, 1977). It is not yet clear, however, what effect these cognitive or learning styles have on student performance. How different is the student's cognitive style from his or her intellectual abilities? What interaction exists between the cognitive style, intellectual ability of the student and the instructional method used to teach a particular subject? While there is much research available on one or two of these interactions, much less has been done on the interaction of all three, i.e., cognitive style, IQ, and teaching methodology.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the interaction of baccalaureate nursing students' cognitive style and cumulative GPA on exam performance, three month retention of knowledge and evaluation of the instructional method, PSI, or lecture. Senior nursing students in a baccalaureate program at a land grant university were the subjects in this study. The independent variable manipulated in this study was the instructional methodology - PSI or lecture. The blocking variables were student cognitive style and cumulative GPA. The dependent variables were scores on examination immediately following the experimental period and three months later and student evaluation of the teaching method.

Review of the Literature

There are many elements in a particular teaching methodology that can be analyzed. Some of the key elements in nursing education, in this author's view, are objectives, written materials given to students, communication between teacher and student, method of evaluation, and student outcomes. The two instructional methods researched in this study, PSI and lecture, differ on all of these elements.

Personalized System of Instruction (PSI)

The Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) was developed by Keller (1968) and implemented for the first time in a short-term laboratory course at Columbia University (Giese & Lawler, 1968). This methodology is based on reinforcement theory, i.e., the student is evaluated often on small units of material and given immediate feedback on his or her progress. It is distinguished from other instructional methodologies by the following characteristics:

1. mastery learning;

2. self-pacing;

3. use of proctors for testing and immediate feedback;

4. emphasis on the written word;

5. lecture and demonstrations as rewards.

This instructional methodology has been used in many different types of courses - Cross and Semb, 1976; Gindler, Marosz, and Romano, 1977; Hogstel, 1976; Johnson and Croft, 1976; Medio, Hursh, Folio and Watne, 1980. One of the major foci of PSI research has been to compare its effectiveness with other more traditional instructional methodologies. Hursh (1976) made an intensive review of the research and concluded that "since 1963 there have been at least 23 studies presenting data indicating the effectiveness of the PSI format, with slight variations, as a package" (p. 92).

Kulik, Kulik and Cohen (1979) did a meta-analysis of 72 different studies of Keller's Personalized System of Instruction. This analysis revealed a superiority for PSI over conventional methods on examination scores, course grades, student evaluations of the course and retention of knowledge.

Bono and Medio (1979) did an extensive literature review of the use of PSI in the health sciences. They found significant differences favoring PSI in 8 studies in medical and dental courses where PSI was compared to lecture.

Only two studies could be found in which nursing students were used in PSI courses. Hogstel (1976) found that the students in the traditional class scored higher on final exam than the PSI students and that the PSI students evaluated the course very highly. However, these results must be interpreted with caution as there was no random assignment to conditions and there were three times as many students in the traditional class as in the PSI section. The second PSI study in nursing was reported by Donohue, Litz and Scott (1976). This was a description of the PSI format in a course on technology in nursing. No comparison with other teaching methods was made.

Lecture

The lecture method is probably the most common method used in college teaching and has been throughout most of this century. Because it is the most frequently employed teaching strategy, it has often been the yardstick against which new methodologies have been measured.

Kulik and Kulik (1979) summarized numerous investigations on the lecture method. They concluded that:

1. teaching by lecture is neither more nor less effective than teaching by discussion when the criterion of effectiveness is learning of factual information.

2. teaching by lecture is less effective than teaching by discussion for more ambitious cognitive objectives, such as problem-solving ability.

3. teaching by lecture is less effective than discussion for changing attitudes in students.

The area that was not agreed upon by these reviewers was student satisfaction with the teaching method.

McKeachie (1970) also summarized the research between lecture and discussion that he had reviewed. The method that was more effective depended on the criteria used to measure its effect. However, the discussion method seemed more effective when the criteria of retention, thinking and attitude change were used.

In studies reviewed by Costin (1972), in which lecture was compared to reading and self-instruction methods, there was a slight advantage in the direction of self-instruction. He concluded that "when reading and study are guided so as to promote active response (as, for example, programmed methods and similar procedures attempt to do) they possibly may have an advantage over the traditional lecture method of promoting the acquisition of information" (p. 21).

Cognitive Style

The cognitive style of the student is an area that has received a great deal of attention in the educational literature. It is the way a person organizes and processes information and experience (Messick, 1976). It is an individual difference in how a person perceives, thinks, solves problems, learns and relates to others (Witkin, Moore, Goodenough & Cox, 1977). While there are many models of cognitive or learning styles, the investigator chose Witkin's Field-Dependence/Independence Model because it is one of the oldest and best established styles. There has been more research on it than any other cognitive style variable - 1600 reports as of 1973 (Bodine, 1977)! Witkin, Dyk, Faterson, Goodenough and Karp's (1974) original investigations were in the area of individual differences in perception. They described two modes of perception. In the fielddependent mode, "perception is dominated by the overall organization of the field; there is relative inability to perceive parts of a field as discrete. This global quality is indicative of limited differentiation" (p. 141). The opposite mode is field-independence in which "parts of a field are experienced as discrete from an organized background, rather than fused with it; it is a relatively differentiated way of functioning" (p. 141).

Witkin, Moore, Goodenough and Cox (1977) have compiled a very extensive review of the research on fielddependence/independence as it relates to educational concerns. Field-dependent students seem to be better at learning materials with social content due to their interest in and selective attention to social aspects of their environment. The difference between the two poles of students is not one of ability but rather of attention. For the circumstances in which learning of social content is important, field-independent students need to be helped to bring this content to their attention.

The effect of reinforcement seemed to vary on each kind of student. Individuals who are more field-independent are likely to have internalized frames of reference to which they adhere as guides to self-direction. Those more fielddependent rely more on external referents and are more likely to require externally defined goals and reinforcement. Some of the studies cited by Witkin et al. (1977) provided evidence that field-dependent people are more affected by criticism than field-independent people. What effect the criticism has on learning depends on the way the criticism is delivered and perceived by the student.

The research studies that examined the cognitive style and student performance on examination have yielded mixed results to this time. Some found significant interactions between field-dependence and the teaching methodology (Brooks, 1976; Herning, 1977; McLeod & Adams, 1977; Witkin, Moore, Goodenough & Cox, 1977). Others found no significant interaction (Baldwin, 1977; Grippin & Ohnmacht, 1977; Lazzaro & Szabo, 1976; McLeod & Adams, 1979). Few studies have tried to factor out intelligence from cognitive style. Rappaport (1977) did remove IQ when examining the relationship between cognitive styles and two instructional methods on course achievement and algebra. He found no significant interaction but underscored the need for further research on cognitive style and IQ. He concluded that "if cognitive style cannot survive such rigorous testing of its effect, the evidence may not be convincing that it is more than an alternative conceptualization of IQ" (p. 50).

Definition of Terms

The following terms were operationally defined in this study:

Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) - A method of instruction designed by Keller (1968). In this study there were four units of instruction, one per week, developed in the PSI format. There were written objectives and written study guides for each unit. Three forms of quizzes were used to test each unit which students had to master at 90% criterion. Two faculty members in the School of Nursing served as proctors along with the investigator. The PSI class met once each week for three hours for four weeks for review of study guides, quiztaking and feedback. In addition, students could take tests at other times during the week as scheduled with the instructor.

Lecture - A method of instruction hi which the teacher organizes the presentation of content to address each of the objectives outlined in the class study guide. The communication is mainly unidirectional - from teacher to student. The student takes notes on the material presented by the instructor and is free to ask questions during the presentation. A three-hour lecture was given once each week for four weeks.

Cognitive Style - Refers to individual differences in how an individual perceives, thinks, solves problems, learns, relates to others, etc. (Witkin, Moore, Goodenough, & Cox, 1977). Cognitive style was measured by the Group Embedded Figures Test (Oltham, Raskin & Witkin, 1971).

Grade-point Average (GPA) - An average grade compiled on a 4-point scale on a semester schedule. In this study, the subject's cumulative grade-point average on the three previous years of college courses was used.

Student Performance - The scores received by the student out of a possible 80 points on the final examination that tested the four experimental units in the nursing course, Concepts of Critical Care Nursing. The examination consisted of multiple choice, fill in the blanks and short essay questions. Each question was designed to test the objectives of each of the four units of instruction.

Student Evaluation - The student's evaluation of the experimental unit as measured by a course evaluation tool developed by the investigator. The tool consisted of 31 questions measured on a Likert scale of 1-5 in which 1 meant "strongly agree" and 5 meant "strongly disagree." The questions ascertained the student opinions about the various aspects of the teaching method and were applicable to either the PSI or lecture conditions.

Hypotheses

There were six hypotheses in this study, the major ones being:

1. Field-dependent students will score higher on the exam and on the three-month retention measure in the PSI condition. Studies reviewed by Brooks (1976), Herning (1977), McLeod and Adams (1977), and Witkin, Moore, Goodenough and Cox (1977) suggested improved performance in field-dependent students exposed to more slower-paced, deductive, highly structured and guided teaching conditions.

2. Those students with low GPAs will do better on the examination and the three month retention exam in the PSI condition than in the lecture condition. In studies done by Cross and Semb (1976), Gindler, Marosz and Romano (1977), and Morris and Kimbreel (1977), all found that the lower achieving student did better in the PSI condition than in the control.

3. An interaction will be evidenced between field-dependence, low GPA and PSI condition with this group scoring higher on the exam and the three month retention exam than their counterparts in the lecture condition. No studies have examined all three variables and it is in this area that the investigator hoped to make a unique contribution.

Method

The subjects were 75 undergraduate senior nursing students enrolled in Concepts of Critical Care Nursing during the fall semester of the 1983-84 academic year at West Virginia University School of Nursing. The subjects completed a written consent form prior to treatment. The subjects were stratified on the basis of cognitive style and cumulative GPA and then randomly assigned to one of two conditions - PSI or lecture.

Those students scoring in the third and fourth quartile on the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) were considered field-independent and those in the lower two, fielddependent. A median split of the sample's GPA was calculated with those students above the median in the high GPA group, those below the median, in the low GPA group.

The research design was a mixed design (Neale & Libert, 1980) in which the instructional methodology was the manipulated variable and cognitive style and cumulative GPA were the classificatory variables. Time from the first exam to the retention exam was the within-subjects variable. The dependent variables were scores on examination and attitude toward the course.

Administrative Procedures

Subjects were given the GEFT three days before the initial class period and told to report back the next day for assignment to group. Class attendance was required and roll was kept. Two lists of students were made, one for PSI and one for lecture, based on random assignment from each of the cognitive style and cumulative GPA groups. Students were then given the written materials for the experimental units and lecture units. They were told to read them and prepare for class as indicated and report to class two days later at the designated time for each group.

Students attended classes for the next four weeks in either the lecture or PSI condition. At the beginning of the 5th period in week 5, the examination and course evaluation form were given out and collected after one hour.

Data Analysis

Data for the dependent variable, examination scores, were analyzed by a 3- way ANOVA (2 x 2 ? 2 ) on each of the examinations. Similarly, a 2 x 2 x 2 ANOVA was done on the course evaluation dependent measure. Additionally, a 2 ? 2 x (2) ANOVA was done on data analyzing the scores on both examinations as a repeated measure over time.

Results

The reliability coefficients in the present study for the GEFT were .97 (split - half odd - even coefficient corrected with the Spearman-Brown prophecy formula) and .89 (Kuder-Richardson formula 20).

Examination Performance as a Function of Cognitive Style, Cumulative GPA and Teaching Methodology

The descriptive data on GEFT, cumulative GPA and the examination scores at the end of the experimental unit by teaching method appear in Table 1. A three-way ANOVA (2 x 2 x 2) was computed on the exam scores. These results appear in Table 2. The mean examination scores of the subjects by cognitive style, GPA and teaching method appear in Figure 1.

Table

TABLE 1SCORES ON GEFT, GPA AND EXAMINATION BY TEACHING METHOD

TABLE 1

SCORES ON GEFT, GPA AND EXAMINATION BY TEACHING METHOD

Table

TABLE 2ANOVA OF COGNITIVE STYLE (CS), GPA AND TEACHING METHODOLOGY (TM) ON EXAMINATION SCORES

TABLE 2

ANOVA OF COGNITIVE STYLE (CS), GPA AND TEACHING METHODOLOGY (TM) ON EXAMINATION SCORES

As can be seen by the data in TVbIe 2, there was a significant main effect for cumulative GPA and teaching method and no significant simple or higher order interactions. Students scored higher on the examination if they had a higher cumulative GPA as would be expected. However, students' examination scores were higher in the PSI condition regardless of cognitive style or GPA. In other words, all students did better in the PSI condition. This model accounted for 39% of the variance in exam scores. Teaching method accounted for 60% of this variance and cumulative GPA for 34%.

An analysis on extreme scores on cognitive style and cumulative GPA was also done. The highest and lowest quartiles on the GEFT and on GPA were determined and then a 2 x 2 x 2 ANOVA was computed. These appear in Table 3.

There was a significant main effect for GPA and for teaching method but no significant interactions. Again, the PSI condition helped all students regardless of how high or low their scores were on the GEFT or what their cumulative GPA was. The data are represented graphically in Figure 2.

FIGURE 1MEAN EXAMINATION SCORES OF FIELD-DEPENDENT AND INDEPENDENT STUDENTS, HIGH AND LOW GPA IN BOTH TEACHING CONDITIONS

FIGURE 1

MEAN EXAMINATION SCORES OF FIELD-DEPENDENT AND INDEPENDENT STUDENTS, HIGH AND LOW GPA IN BOTH TEACHING CONDITIONS

FIGURE 2MEAN EXAMINATION SCORES OF EXTREME SCORES IN COGNITIVE STYLE (CS) AND GPA BY TEACHING METHOD

FIGURE 2

MEAN EXAMINATION SCORES OF EXTREME SCORES IN COGNITIVE STYLE (CS) AND GPA BY TEACHING METHOD

Table

TABLE 3ANOVA OF EXAM RESULTS BY EXTREME SCORES ON COGNITIVE STYLE (CS) AND CUMULATIVE GPA

TABLE 3

ANOVA OF EXAM RESULTS BY EXTREME SCORES ON COGNITIVE STYLE (CS) AND CUMULATIVE GPA

Table

TABLE 4ANALYSIS OF THREE-MONTH RETENTION SCORES BY COGNITIVE STYLE, CUMULATIVE GPA, AND TEACHING METHOD

TABLE 4

ANALYSIS OF THREE-MONTH RETENTION SCORES BY COGNITIVE STYLE, CUMULATIVE GPA, AND TEACHING METHOD

Three-Month Retention Examination Scores

The same examination was given to all subjects 11V2 weeks after the original administration. The subjects' scores on the three-month retention examination were analyzed two different ways: a 3-way ANOVA on the retention examination only and a 3-way ANOVA with a repeated measure on the examination scores. The 3-way ANOVA on the retention exam only appear in Table 4.

The mean scores on the retention examination were 66 (S.D. 10.05) for the PSI group and 58 (S.D. 12.96) for the lecture group. There was a strong main effect for GPA as Table 4 illustrates and while the mean score on the retention exam was higher in the PSI group, it was not quite significant.

A second analysis using both the scores on Examination I and the retention exam as a repeated measure over time was then done. Since cognitive style was not significant in the first analysis (Table 4), it was not analyzed in the 3-way ANOVA with the repeated measure on the exam scores. This ANOVA appears in Table 5.

With both exam scores taken together, the teaching method as a main effect was highly significant. The mean on both exams for the PSI group was 78 and for the lecture group, it was 70. PSI still had a significant effect on exam scores even when the retention scores were averaged with Exam I. Similarly, GPA yielded a significant main effect over both exams with the high GPA students having a mean of 78 on both exams as compared to 70 in the low GPA group.

More significant is the effect of teaching method and cumulative GPA on the exam scores when the effect of three months time between both exams was examined. The effect of time was highly significant with all scores dropping from Exam I to the retention exam. The mean of both teaching method groups at Exam I was 86 and 62 at the retention exam. The interaction between time and GPA was significant with the high GPA students dropping 22 points from Exam I to the retention exam, and the low GPA students falling off 28 points.

The interaction between teaching method and time was not significant. PSI students did not do significantly better when the effect of time was considered than those in the lecture group (Table 5). The PSI students dropped 25 points from Exam I to the retention exam, from 91 to 66, while the lecture students dropped 24 points, from 81 to 56. These results are graphically illustrated in Figure 3.

Student Evaluation of the Teaching Method as a Function of Cognitive Style

Reliability coefficients were determined for the 31-question evaluation instrument. The odd-even coefficient corrected with Spearman-Brown prophecy formula was .91 and the Gronbach's coefficient alpha was .87.

A low score on the evaluation instrument indicated greater satisfaction with the teaching method.

A 2-way ANOVA was done on the total score of the evaluation instrument. These data appear in Table 6- As Table 6 indicates, there is a highly significant main effect for teaching method and no significant interaction between teaching method and cognitive style. Figure 4 illustrates that the students in the PSI condition evaluated the PSI condition more favorably than the lecture students evaluated the lecture method. (Note that a lower score is more indicative of a positive evaluation since 1 - highly agree and 5 = highly disagree.) The hypothesis that fielddependent students would score higher in the PSI condition was not supported. All students in the PSI condition did better on the examinations regardless of cognitive style.

Table

TABLE 5ANALYSIS OF TEACHING METHOD, CUMULATIVE GPA AND EXAMINATION SCORES AS A FUNCTION OF TIME

TABLE 5

ANALYSIS OF TEACHING METHOD, CUMULATIVE GPA AND EXAMINATION SCORES AS A FUNCTION OF TIME

Table

FIGURE 3MEAN SCORES BY TEACHING METHOD ON EXAM AND RETENTION EXAM AS A FUNCTION OF TIME

FIGURE 3

MEAN SCORES BY TEACHING METHOD ON EXAM AND RETENTION EXAM AS A FUNCTION OF TIME

Table

TABLE 6ANALYSIS OF TOTAL EVALUATION SCORES BY TEACHING METHOD AND COGNITIVE STYLE

TABLE 6

ANALYSIS OF TOTAL EVALUATION SCORES BY TEACHING METHOD AND COGNITIVE STYLE

FIGURE 4EVALUATION SCORES BY TEACHING METHOD AND COGNITIVE STYLE

FIGURE 4

EVALUATION SCORES BY TEACHING METHOD AND COGNITIVE STYLE

The hypothesis concerning the interaction of cumulative GPA and PSI was not supported. No significant interaction between cumulative GPA and instructional methodology was found. Even when the scores of the extremely high or low GPA students were analyzed, no significant interaction was found. Additionally, no significant higher order interaction was found between cognitive style, cumulative GPA and the teaching method.

Implications for Nursing Education

From this investigation, it appears that Personalized System of Instruction is a powerful instructional method that results in higher examination scores and higher satisfaction with the methodology than the lecture method. This differential effect applies equally to students of opposite cognitive styles and differing intellectual aptitude as measured by cumulative grade point average. The practical effect on examination scores in this study represented a whole grade difference for PSI over lecture. As a result, there were less failures than in the lecture condition.

PSI is a methodology that can be successfully applied to higher education students in a professional field of study like nursing. Only one study had been found that examined PSI and lecture in a nursing course. Hogstel(1976) reported that the lecture group did better than the PSI group in her study. But that study had two major flaws - no random assignment to teaching conditions and a very large difference in sample size (three times as many students in lecture as in PSI). This investigation corrected these conditions and thus the present findings have greater generalizability.

This methodology has particular value in a course that has many objectives at the knowledge, comprehension and application levels. It has great value for material that is complex and highly technical because it structures the learning process by breaking it up into small units, emphasizing important concepts, and by providing several opportunities for the student to test his grasp of the material to be learned.

The beneficial effect of PSI on exam performance found in this study adds further support to the similar findings of Bono and Medio (1979), Gindler, Marosz and Romano (1977), Hursh (1976), and Kulik and Kulik (1979). The failure to find a significant effect of the teaching method on the three-month retention is contrary to Kulik and Kulik's analysis of eight studies analyzed by those authors. The timing of the retention measure is probably critical and similar time periods need to be compared to make meaningful conclusions.

An additional problem exists in trying to accurately measure retention of knowledge. The students' motivation and attention is suspect. There is no reward or penalty attached to the retention exam, and it may be seen as just another exercise to complete for the researcher. It is questionable if the subjects put as much effort into answering the retention exam as they did into the first exam that comprised 25% of their course grade. Therefore, the results in this investigation may be tenuous.

The fact that the students' cognitive style did not significantly affect their performance on examination or their satisfaction with an instructional method is curious. However, since the literature reviewed earlier in this work was inconclusive on this question, the results of this investigation were not surprising. One difficulty may have been with the psychometric properties of the instruments that measured cognitive style. While the GEFT was quite reliable, it has had only limited testing of its validity. It may be that our tools to assess cognitive style are not as well developed as yet. Even though Witkin, Goodenough and Karp (1976) reported relative stability of field-independence/dependence throughout development, they did find increasing field independence with maturity. The subjects in this investigation were college seniors, young adults, who may have learned more autonomous study habits and more analytical abilities due to their many years of educational experience. They, therefore, may be able to adapt better to the demands of an instructional method and use the cognitive abilities necessary to achieve success. Perry (1981) suggested that cognitive strategy may be a better characteristic to study than the more stable cognitive style because "many people demonstrate (both rapid and gradual) acquisition of alternative styles, which then become available to strategies adaptable to the character of different tasks" (p. 106). It may also be that although people process information and problem solve in different manners, i.e., their cognitive style, it is not an important determinant to success in learning - rather, intellectual ability and teaching methodology may be the dominant factors.

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TABLE 1

SCORES ON GEFT, GPA AND EXAMINATION BY TEACHING METHOD

TABLE 2

ANOVA OF COGNITIVE STYLE (CS), GPA AND TEACHING METHODOLOGY (TM) ON EXAMINATION SCORES

TABLE 3

ANOVA OF EXAM RESULTS BY EXTREME SCORES ON COGNITIVE STYLE (CS) AND CUMULATIVE GPA

TABLE 4

ANALYSIS OF THREE-MONTH RETENTION SCORES BY COGNITIVE STYLE, CUMULATIVE GPA, AND TEACHING METHOD

TABLE 5

ANALYSIS OF TEACHING METHOD, CUMULATIVE GPA AND EXAMINATION SCORES AS A FUNCTION OF TIME

FIGURE 3

MEAN SCORES BY TEACHING METHOD ON EXAM AND RETENTION EXAM AS A FUNCTION OF TIME

TABLE 6

ANALYSIS OF TOTAL EVALUATION SCORES BY TEACHING METHOD AND COGNITIVE STYLE

10.3928/0148-4834-19860401-06

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