Perspectives on Thinking, Learning, and Cognitive Styles

Perspectives on Thinking, Learning, and Cognitive Styles

Perspectives on Thinking, Learning, and Cognitive Styles

Perspectives on Thinking, Learning, and Cognitive Styles

Synopsis

This volume presents the most comprehensive, balanced, and up-to-date coverage of theory and research on cognitive, thinking, and learning styles, in a way that: * represents diverse theoretical perspectives; * includes solid empirical evidence testing the validity of these perspectives; and * shows the application of these perspectives to school situations, as well as situations involving other kinds of organizations. International representation is emphasized, with chapters from almost every major leader in the field of styles. Each chapter author has contributed serious theory and/or published empirical data--work that is primarily commercial or that implements the theories of others. The book's central premise is that cognitive, learning, and thinking styles are not abilities but rather preferences in the use of abilities. Traditionally, many psychologists and educators have believed that people's successes and failures are attributable mainly to individual differences in abilities. However, for the past few decades research on the roles of thinking, learning, and cognitive styles in performance within both academic and nonacademic settings has indicated that they account for individual differences in performance that go well beyond abilities. New theories better differentiate styles from abilities and make more contact with other psychological literatures; recent research, in many cases, is more careful and conclusive than are some of the older studies. Cognitive, learning, and thinking styles are of interest to educators because they predict academic performance in ways that go beyond abilities, and because taking styles into account can help teachers to improve both instruction and assessment and to show sensitivity to cultural and individual diversity among learners. They are also of interest in business, where instruments to assess styles are valuable in selecting and placing personnel. The state-of-the-art research and theory in this volume will be of particular interest to scholars and graduate students in cognitive and educational psychology, managers, and others concerned with intellectual styles as applied in educational, industrial, and corporate settings.

Excerpt

Traditionally, many psychologists and educators have believed that people's successes and failures are attributable mainly to individual differences in abilities. For the past few decades, however, investigators have been studying the roles of thinking, learning, and cognitive styles in performance with both academic and nonacademic settings. Although these three kinds of styles may be viewed as overlapping historically, they have been conceptualized in different ways. Consider, for example, a topic in school such as the Civil War in the United States.

Learning styles might be used to characterize how one prefers to learn about the Civil War. Would one rather learn about it visually (by reading) or auditorily (by lectures)? Or perhaps one would prefer an active form of learning (simulating it) versus a passive form (reading or listening to material about it).

Thinking styles might be used to characterize how one prefers to think about material as one is learning it or after one already knows it. For example, would one rather think about global issues or local issues? Would one prefer to evaluate what one has learned or to go beyond what one has learned?

Cognitive styles might be used to characterize ways of cognizing the information. For example, does one tend to be a splitter, seeing each battle as a distinct entity, or as a lumper, viewing many or all of the battles as similar acts of war? Does one tend to be impulsive in jumping to conclusions about the war or to be reflective? The cognitive styles tend to be closer to personality than are the other types of styles.

In general, abilities refer to things one can do, such as to execute skills or skill combinations (strategies). Styles refer to preferences in the use of abilities. For example, in one theory (Witkin, Dyk, Faterson, Goodenough, & Karp, 1962), people with a field-dependent style tend to be unable to separate things to which they attend from the context in which they attend to these things, where people with a field-dependent style are able to make . . .

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