The Influence of Student and Teacher Field Independence/Dependence Cognitive Style on Student Achievement in High School Chemistry
Custer, Thomas Alan
Lockard, J. David
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The study examined the relationship between field dependence/independence of students and teachers on student achievement in high school chemistry as measured by the American Chemical Society's Test. The hypothesis was that differences in field dependent/field independent cognitive styles of students and teachers should not affect achievement in high school chemistry. Field independent learners are task oriented, set self-regulated goals, seek less guidance in problem solving and prefer to work individually. Field dependent learners are attuned to social interaction, favor structure, teacher direction and feedback and benefit from instruction in problem solving. Participants in the study were high school chemistry teachers and their 10th, 11th, and 12th grade general chemistry students enrolled in four public comprehensive high schools. The measures used to collect the data were the Embedded FiguresTest (EFT) (Karp and Konstadt, 1971) and the American Chemical Society's High School Chemistry Test (ACS) (1991). The selected teachers represented extremes in field dependence/independence. Students of the selected teachers comprised the student group and totaled 272. Students were administered the EFT and ACS tests the first week of the second semester and teachers followed their typical instructional program. The ACS post test was administered to students during the last week of the semester. The basic design was two by two, field dependence/independence of students matched to field dependence/independence of teachers. Data analysis was conducted using the SPSS-X statistical package and included analysis of covariance. The covariant was the pretest results of the ACS test since the students were not randomly assigned. The analysis of covariance indicated student scores on the ACS test were not significant when compared to field dependent/independent teachers and the null hypothesis was not rejected. The findings showed clearly that students with strong independent learning styles showed significantly higher chemistry achievement and greater achievement gains. Further research needs to be conducted with a culturally diverse randomized student and teacher population, several reliable measures of chemistry achievement and data collection over a longer period of time.