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The relation of cognitive style to the achievement of selected goals of an intermediate open area program Macdonald, Russell G.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the cognitive style of learners and their achievement of specific program goals: 1) Independent patterns of work. 2) Acceptance of social responsibility. 3) Positive attitude toward schooling. 4) Positive attitude toward self. 5) Basic skills in reading, writing and listening. The study was conducted in a small open-area classroom in West Vancouver with fifty-seven learners and two teachers. The program placed emphasis on structuring of time and learning experience by the learners. The Sequential Tests of Educational Progress were used to measure achievement of basic skills. Achievement of the other goals was measured using instruments developed specifically for this study. Learners were characterized by cognitive style using the Hidden Figures Test. Discriminant analysis was used to differentiate between cognitive style groups on the basis of dependent variable score pro-files. No differentiation was found as the sample was concentrated in the field independent region of the cognitive style continuum. Hierarchical grouping analysis was carried out to determine if there were any patterns of grouping based on achievement. Groups found were related to only two of the independent variables: sex and socioeconomic status. Q-analysis was done as a more intensive study of the two dependent variables of major importance: independent patterns of work and social responsibility. There was no relationship found between the Q-analysis groups and the independent variables. Certain large groups described themselves as using and preferring non-independent patterns of work. Other large groups described themselves as using and admiring highly socially irresponsible behaviour. Very small groups used or admired socially responsible behaviour, A paired-comparison scaling technique was used to determine preferences for methods of communication. All cognitive style groups preferred talking over all other methods of communication. The most analytic group of children had a greater preference for, "Body English", in communication than the least analytic group. Implications for further research are discussed, with particular reference to the findings of social-behavior patterns.

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