EFFECTS OF STRUCTURE IN PREINSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES ON MEMORY FOR SENTENCES IN FIELD DEPENDENT INDIVIDUALS

THOMAS LAMBERT, Fordham University

Abstract

The present research was designed to test the effects of structure in preinstructional strategies on memory for verbal material in field dependent and field independent individuals. Research by Witkin and his associates has found that field dependent learners tend to use a passive, spectator approach to learning in which the learner waits to be impressed upon by structure and salient items in a field. In contrast, field independent individuals have been reported to take a more active, participant role in learning and to make attempts to examine cues and impose structure on a field through mediational strategies. It was hypothesized that when persons of different cognitive styles received a loosely structured preinstructional strategy, only field independent learners would be able to impose their own structure and profit from this strategy on a related memory for sentences task. It was further predicted that when subjects received a structured and integrated preinstructional strategy, both field dependent and field independent learners would show benefits reflected in a higher degree of retention on the related memory for sentences task.^ 187 ninth and tenth grade high school students participated in this study. Each subject was pretested on the Group Embedded Figures Test for tendencies toward field dependence or field independence. 36 students whose scores fell around the mean on this measure were eliminated from further participation in the study in order to establish distinct cognitive style groups. Remaining subjects were randomly assigned to one of three preinstructional treatment conditions. The three preinstructional strategies varied in the degree of structure and integration provided in relevant material. Following treatment, all subjects were tested on a memory for sentences task which contained material related to the information presented during preinstructional treatment.^ Hypotheses were tested by a two-way analysis of covariance and post hoc comparisons. The results support the predicted main effect and interactive relationships between variables. Subjects were found to benefit to the greatest degree from a highly structured and integrated preinstructional strategy on their retention of related sentences. Field independent subjects performed significantly better than field dependent subjects after receiving a loosely structured, but relevant preinstructional strategy. In contrast, field dependent subjects performed as well as field independent subjects on the related memory for sentences task after receiving treatment with the highly structured and integrated preinstructional strategy.^ Additional analyses indicated a significant, positive relationship between field independence and intelligence. This relationship was controlled by assigning IQ as a covariate in inferential tests. No significant differences were found between males and females in their tendencies toward field dependence-independence.^ The findings of this investigation underscored the importance of examining both individual differences in children and individualized approaches to instruction. It was suggested that future research assess the knowledge of individual learning styles and use of varied preinstructional techniques by school psychologists. It was also recommended that interaction designs be used in future research in which the relationship between the psychological structure of the individual and the content structure of educational material is emphasized. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

LAMBERT, THOMAS, "EFFECTS OF STRUCTURE IN PREINSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES ON MEMORY FOR SENTENCES IN FIELD DEPENDENT INDIVIDUALS" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8119778.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8119778

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