Perspectives on Thinking, Learning, and Cognitive Styles

By Robert J. Sternberg; Li-Fang Zhang | Go to book overview

8—
Thinking Styles across Cultures: Their Relationships with Student Learning
Li-fang Zhang
The University of Hong Kong
Robert J. Sternberg
Yale University

Traditionally, many psychologists and educators have believed that students' academic successes and failures are due mainly to individual differences in abilities. However, how can it be that one teacher considers a student to be unintelligent and a second teacher considers the same student to be intelligent? How can it be that one student does a mediocre job on a multiple-choice test and the same student produces an outstanding individual project? These common phenomena in educational institutions of all levels cannot be explained by the traditional view of students' successes and failures. Instead, these phenomena require a new explanation.

Since the beginning of the movement of cognitive styles in the late 1960s and early 1970s, investigators have been studying the roles of thinking and learning styles in student learning. The primary goal of this chapter is to address the two questions raised above through presenting the findings generated by our initial interest in the contribution of thinking styles to academic achievement beyond abilities. Furthermore, to understand the nature of thinking styles, we examined the relationships of thinking styles to student characteristics (personological and situational) and to an aspect of the affective domain, that is, students' self-esteem, as well as to their learning approaches (sometimes called learning styles).

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