Effect of restructuring training and field-dependence-independence

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Virginia Tech

Herman Witkin's research in differentiation theory proposed a conceptual framework describing the cognitive style known as field-dependence-independence. The operational measures of this construct are restructuring skills and interpersonal competencies, and were originally conceived to be fixed in an individual. A recent reconceptualization, however, suggested that there may be some malleability in learning strategies that flow from cognitive style. Learners predisposed to field dependence might gain access to restructuring skills brought to problem-solving Situations by field independents. Thus this study undertook to examine the effects and practicability of restructuring training as a means of addressing individual learner differences.

Community college students were identified on the field-dependence-independence continuum using the Hidden Figures Test. Students in the experimental group received training in use of restructuring strategies. All participants were given subsequent tasks requiring the employ of restructuring strategies. These posttest tasks included a visual disembedding task, a verbal disambiguating task, and a task of visual perspectivism. Training effect was observed in field dependents for all three test tasks.