The effect of cognitive style and instructional mode preference of the learning of a procedural task by self instruction



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This trait-treatment interaction study examined the effect of cognitive style (field-dependence-independence) and preference for instructional mode on the learning of a procedural task in a self instructional setting. Interactions between cognitive style and instructional mode and between cognitive style and instructional mode preference were predicted to affect both cognitive-psychomotor and affective outcomes. Subjects were 151 undergraduate students in the third year of a four year program at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. They were individually tested for field-dependence-independence using the individual Embedded Figures Test and for motor ability using three sub-scales of the Minnesota Manual Accuracy and Speed Test. They then rank ordered five different modes of instruction for learning the procedural task, the operation of an automatic threading 16mm motion picture projector, on a learning mode preference questionnaire developed for this project. Stratified random sampling, based on cognitive style and instructional mode preference, was used to allocate students to three treatment groups each employing a different self instructional mode. These were (a) modeling, presented by an 8mm sound/color film, (b) a synchronized tape/ slide presentation and (c) an illustrated print/picture instruction manual. The verbal content of the three programs was identical. However the programs differed in selected aspects of cue presentation and in the amount of freedom they allowed the learner to control the learning environment. Both film and tape/slide presentations were linearly sequential and fixed-paced while the print/picture presentation: was flexible and learner controlled. Students studied the alloted program on an individual basis, being allowed only one trial to sequence the motor part-skills of the procedural task. They then completed a written evaluation of the instructional mode experienced. A ten scale semantic differential instrument, in which were embedded four bipolar adjective pairs representing the evaluative factor, was administered. Scores on the four evaluative scales provided the evaluation measure. The performance test followed immediately. This testing was videotaped and later scored on a scale allowing weighted assessment of accuracy, smoothness and speed, the components of skilled motor performance (Gagne, 1977). A multiple regression model was used to test seven hypotheses, four of which were concerned with performance and three with evaluation of instruction as outcomes. Statistical control for intellectual activity (defined as grade point average) and motor ability was employed in the first four hypotheses. [...]