A study of the effects of positive and negative instances on the acquisition of selected Algebra concepts as a function of cognitive style

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The purposes of this study were to examine the effects of positive and negative instances and cognitive style on the acquisition of fifteen selected concepts in First Year Algebra. Specifically, the study was designed to answer the following questions: What are the effects of a series of positive instances and a series of positive and negative instances on the acquisition of selected algebra concepts? To what extent does cognitive style influence concept acquisition? The study was conducted in April, 1976 at Forest Brook High School in the North Forest Independent School District in Houston, Texas. The subjects consisted of eighty ninth grade students. The subjects were randomly assigned to two treatment groups by means of a table of random numbers. Within each group the subjects were classified as high analytic or low analytic on the basis of their performance on the Hidden Figures Test. The subjects in one group were required to learn fifteen concepts in First Year Algebra by studying positive instances and the subjects in the other group were required to learn the same concepts by studying positive and negative instances. The Concept Attainment Test developed by the researcher was prepared to assess attainment of the fifteen concepts that the subjects were required to learn. The two experimental variables in this experiment were cognitive style and treatment. The dependent variable was the number of items answered correctly by each subject. A two-way analysis of variance was used to test the null hypotheses at the .05 level of significance. The findings of the study indicated that students using positive and negative instances achieved significantly higher than students using positive instances only. Although high analytic subjects scored higher than low analytic subjects, there was no significant difference between the achievement of the two groups. There was no significant interaction between cognitive style and treatment.

Algebra--Study and teaching