Cognitive Style and Learning Style

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Topic 10 ~ Explain the differences between cognitive style and learning style. In what ways might the perceptual styles of field-dependence and field-independence influence whether a student processes information at a deep versus a surface level of learning?

Krause et al and other texts use the broader term "Cognitive Style" to include "Learning Style" - often they are thought of as the same concept, but they can be differentiated:
• Cognitive Style: The characteristic ways of thinking and perceiving that individuals use to process and remember information. (Krause et al)
• Learning Style: Is about learner preferences for types of learning and teaching activities i.e. a students preferred way(s) of learning. E.g. Watching, listening, doing, or some combination. (Krause et al)

A very important thing to remember about this, as a teacher is that everyone has their own unique cognitive style and learning style. We should consider this as we prepare ways of explaining concepts to the learners.

The terms field dependence and field independence are used to describe two extreme dimensions of human perception to visual stimuli.
• Field Dependence – A cognitive style related to perceiving items, events or information as am integral part of a broader context (or ‘field'). (Krause et al)
Sees the big picture, holistic approach, the broader overall impression of the stimuli.
• Field Independence – The tendency to perceive individual items, events or pieces of information analytically, and as distinct from the broader context (or ‘field') (Krause et al)
Looks at individual items within the scene, greater attention to detail and uses lots of bits of information to make up the meaning.

Deep level of learning – Information is retained long term. Relates new knowledge to previous knowledge, other courses, and real life, etc. Deep learners are intrinsically motivated to learn.
Surface level learning – Information is not as well retained, easily forgotten.

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