The effects of presentation mode and cognitive style on immediate recall of map information

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This study investigated the use of varying formats for presenting complex visual information in the form of fictitious maps. There were three treatment formats, two which sequenced the map information by conceptual category (i.e., roads, geographic features, boundaries), and a third which used a normal intact map format. The two sequenced presentations differed in that the first was additive; that is, each visual in the sequence built upon the preceding one by adding a category of information until the complete map was displayed. The second simply displayed one conceptual category per visual.

The cognitive style field dependence-independence was also examined as potentially related to map-learning ability based on the greater cognitive restructuring ability of the field independent orientation. lt was predicted that the achievement of field-dependent students would be higher with the sequenced map treatments, and the achievement of the field-independent students would be higher with the intact map treatment. The research questions were:

  1. Does dividing map information into either an Additive sequence or a Part-by-Part sequence affect performance on a map-learning task?
  2. Do students classified as held dependent, moderately field - independent, or held independent differ in their performance on a map-learning task?
  3. Is there an interaction across visual design format with cognitive style?

The sample for this study was composed of 92 four-year college students. Level of held dependence was measured by the GEFT. The analysis of the 3 X 3 research design was by a two-way analysis of variance with posttest scores (which measured immediate recall of map information) as the dependent variable. Map presentation format and cognitive style were independent variables. Results indicated there was no difference in achievement among the three map presentation formats, but that cognitive style was significantly related to posttest scores; that is, a higher level of held independence was associated with more effective map-learning performance.