Exploring the Relationship between Delivery Methods and Cognitive Style in Relation to the Availability of Psycho-Social Content in Space Life Sciences Education Material
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Following a thorough online search, it is apparent there is a shortage of accessible material on the space life sciences, particularly with respect to the psycho-social field. Psycho-social topics such as isolation and confinement, along with crew cohesion, play a pivotal role in both crew mental health and mission success. Building an educational module centering on these topics addressed both the need for more accessible space life sciences content as well as provided a means for educating the general public. By developing two distinct formats of identical material, one consisting of purely text and the other with more visually stimulating material, this thesis also explored the relationship between the visualizer-verbalizer cognitive style model and methods of material delivery. The methodology for this study followed a screening phase, pretest phase, learning phase, and post-test phase. The Santa Barbara Learning Style Questionnaire (SBLSQ) was used to identify visualizers and verbalizers among undergraduate students at the University of Houston. Due to the inability to single out any verbalizers, this group was later replaced with neutral learners, who had a propensity for both forms of material delivery. It was expected optimal learning would occur when cognitive style was matched with a method of material delivery (e.g., visualizer learning visual material). Results indicated, while post-test scores improved significantly following a period of learning, cognitive style had no significant main effect in this study. There was no significant main effect of matching cognitive style with a method of material delivery. Post-test scores were significantly affected by the method of material delivery, with subjects receiving verbal material outperforming those receiving visual material. Cognitive overload and passivity of visual information modalities are proposed as justifications for this discrepancy. The results obtained from this study question the effectiveness of modifying educational instruction methods to accommodate individual differences as it pertains to cognitive styles.