Musser, T. (2005) “Individual Differences: How Field Dependence-Independence Affects Learners”

Musser, T. (2005) “Individual Differences: How Field Dependence-Independence Affects Learners”


Fifty years ago, Witkin (1948) discovered that individual differences in the effects of visual cues are not merely errors of method, but that people show remarkable consistency in degree of field dependence on tests of orientation perception (Goodenough, 1986). After fiddling with a perception test using rods and frames, Witkin finally developed the Embedded Figures Test to determine the degree of field dependence or independence we each possess. No other cognitive style has been more researched in our history than that of field dependence-independence. In an effort to discover the importance of this cognitive style and its implications for education and research, this paper begins with a general discussion of cognitive styles, including taxonomies and definitions. A review of the article “Assessment Approaches and Cognitive Styles” (Lu & Suen, 1995) follows as well as a look at specific characteristics of field dependence-independence. The next two sections of this paper examine what effects field dependence-independence has on people and what factors effect field dependence-independence. Finally, the final section reviews assessment techniques and how they relate to cognitive style.


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