Effects of imposed visuals and instructions to image on immediate recall in students of varying ages and cognitive styles

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this research was to determine if levels of field dependence affects a student’s ability to profit from either imposed visuals or instructions to form visual images to aid immediate recall of concrete paired-axociate nouns. Also of interest are possible changes in the relationship between field dependence and visual strategy as students move from upper elementary to high school. It was hypothesized that the field-dependent individual is less able to profit from the use of interactive imagery required in a memory task of this nature due to the inability to impose structure in a non-structured situation.

Participants in this study were 197 fourth, seventh and tenth grade students from a moderately affluent, suburban community in southwestern Virginia.The Group Embedded Figures Test was used to determine cognitive style. Within each grade level, an equal number of students classified as field dependent, neutral and field independent were randomly assigned to three treatment groups. The dependent measure of memory was a written test of immediate recall of 24 paired-associate, concrete nouns. The three treatment groups were: Control, who received only instructions to remember the words; Imposed Visual, who viewed line drawings of the two words; and Imagery, who received instructions to form interactive visual images of the two words.

Data was analyzed using three-way Analysis ofVariance. All three main effects (grade level, cognitive style and visual strategy) were significant. There was no interaction, however.