Cognitive style and the effects of two instructional treatments on the acquisition and transfer of the ability to control variables: A longitudinal study

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Abstract

Long-term retention effects of two methods of instruction used one year earlier to teach field-dependent (FD) and field-independent (FI) sixth-grade students to control variables and to transfer this ability to novel tasks were investigated. The study also examined whether or not uninstructed seventh-grade students had acquired this ability on their own. Results indicated that Treatment I produced better retention over time for both FD and FI students than did Treatment II. Treatment II was more effective for FI students than for FD students. Significant main effects for treatment and cognitive style were found on each controlling variables task when the abilities of instructed and uninstructed seventh-grade students were compared. Field-dependent students who had received Treatment I significantly outperformed FD students who had received Treatment II and FD students who had received no instruction on how to control variables. Field-dependent students who had received Treatment II performed about as well as their counterparts who had received no instruction. Field-independent students who had received Treatment I significantly outperformed FI students who had received Treatment II on two of three measures and FI students who had received no instruction on all measures. Field-independent student who had received Treatment II significantly outperformed FI students who had received no instruction on two of three measures.

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