- Cognitive style preferences among adolescent mathematics achievers : perception, processing and hemisphericity

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# Cognitive style preferences among adolescent mathematics achievers : perception, processing and hemisphericity

Author

Lee, Sai Choo

Supervisor

Yeap, Lay Leng

Abstract

The "fear of Mathematics" exhibited by students, the high attrition rates in Mathematics, the growing concern for improving Mathematics education in a modern industrialized society, and the recent findings which show that cognitive styles is another dimension of individual difference which is linked to academic achievement are some reasons that prompted the implementations of this study.

The study focused on investigating the cognitive styles of 407 thirteen to fourteen-year-old adolescents in relation to their achievement in Mathematics. Their cognitive styles were identified using Kolb's Learning Style Inventory (1985) and McCarthy's Hemispheric Mode Indicator (1986). The students were placed into three achievement groups according to their performance in a Mathematics Achievement Test: High (n=167), Average (n=147) and Low (n=144). The commonalties and differences among the students were identified using the Student Data Inventory.

The study hoped to find out (1) what cognitive factors (like perception and processing of information) affect the learning of mathematical concepts and Mathematics achievements, (2) the type of cognitive styles practised by high, average and low Mathematics achievers, (3) if Mathematics achievement is related to hemispheric preference or brain dominance, (4) the relationship between the learning styles identified by Kolb (1985) as Divergers, Assimilators, Convergers, Accommodators and hemispheric preference.

Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, one-way analyses of variance, Chi square tests of significance and difference.

The results indicated that: (1) In the perception dimension, there was a significant difference in the Abstract Conceptualization learning mode among the three groups, but there was no significant difference in the Concrete Experience learning mode among the three groups. Overall, the high Mathematics achievers were significantly more abstract than concrete compared to the average and low Mathematics achievers. (2) In the processing dimension, there was a significant difference in the Reflective Observation learning mode among the three achievement groups but there was no significant difference in the Active Experimentation learning mode. Overall, the three groups of Mathematics achievers were not significantly different in their preference for Active versus Reflective learning modes. (3) There was a significant difference in the percentage of Diverges, Assimilators, Convergers and Accommodators among the three achievement groups. High Mathematics achievers were mainly Assimilators and Convergers. (4) There was no significant difference in the percentage of left-brained dominant, whole-brained and right-brained dominant groups among the three achievement groups. However the percentage of left-brained dominant group among the high Mathematics achievers was found to be slightly higher than that among the low Mathematics achievers. Also the percentage of right-brained dominant group was slightly higher among the low Mathematics achievers than that among the high Mathematics achievers. (5) There was a significant relationship between the learning style types diagnosed by Kolb's Learning Style Inventory and the hemispheric preferences diagnosed by McCarthy's Hemispheric Mode Indicator: Assimilators and Convergers were more left-brained dominant while Divergers and Accommodators were slightly more right-brained dominant.

Findings from the study should prove helpful to Mathematics teachers. Recommendations, such as matching instructional strategies with students' cognitive styles, providing for a balanced curriculum, using the 4MAT system, and teaching around the students' actual cognitive learning processes appropriate to mathematical concepts, were made to enhance the academic success of students in Mathematics.

The study focused on investigating the cognitive styles of 407 thirteen to fourteen-year-old adolescents in relation to their achievement in Mathematics. Their cognitive styles were identified using Kolb's Learning Style Inventory (1985) and McCarthy's Hemispheric Mode Indicator (1986). The students were placed into three achievement groups according to their performance in a Mathematics Achievement Test: High (n=167), Average (n=147) and Low (n=144). The commonalties and differences among the students were identified using the Student Data Inventory.

The study hoped to find out (1) what cognitive factors (like perception and processing of information) affect the learning of mathematical concepts and Mathematics achievements, (2) the type of cognitive styles practised by high, average and low Mathematics achievers, (3) if Mathematics achievement is related to hemispheric preference or brain dominance, (4) the relationship between the learning styles identified by Kolb (1985) as Divergers, Assimilators, Convergers, Accommodators and hemispheric preference.

Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, one-way analyses of variance, Chi square tests of significance and difference.

The results indicated that: (1) In the perception dimension, there was a significant difference in the Abstract Conceptualization learning mode among the three groups, but there was no significant difference in the Concrete Experience learning mode among the three groups. Overall, the high Mathematics achievers were significantly more abstract than concrete compared to the average and low Mathematics achievers. (2) In the processing dimension, there was a significant difference in the Reflective Observation learning mode among the three achievement groups but there was no significant difference in the Active Experimentation learning mode. Overall, the three groups of Mathematics achievers were not significantly different in their preference for Active versus Reflective learning modes. (3) There was a significant difference in the percentage of Diverges, Assimilators, Convergers and Accommodators among the three achievement groups. High Mathematics achievers were mainly Assimilators and Convergers. (4) There was no significant difference in the percentage of left-brained dominant, whole-brained and right-brained dominant groups among the three achievement groups. However the percentage of left-brained dominant group among the high Mathematics achievers was found to be slightly higher than that among the low Mathematics achievers. Also the percentage of right-brained dominant group was slightly higher among the low Mathematics achievers than that among the high Mathematics achievers. (5) There was a significant relationship between the learning style types diagnosed by Kolb's Learning Style Inventory and the hemispheric preferences diagnosed by McCarthy's Hemispheric Mode Indicator: Assimilators and Convergers were more left-brained dominant while Divergers and Accommodators were slightly more right-brained dominant.

Findings from the study should prove helpful to Mathematics teachers. Recommendations, such as matching instructional strategies with students' cognitive styles, providing for a balanced curriculum, using the 4MAT system, and teaching around the students' actual cognitive learning processes appropriate to mathematical concepts, were made to enhance the academic success of students in Mathematics.

Date Issued

1995

Call Number

QA11 Lee

Date Submitted

1995