The Effects of the Interaction between Cognitive Style and Instructional Strategy on the Educational Outcomes for a Science Exhibit

Knappenberger, Naomi (1998) The Effects of the Interaction between Cognitive Style and Instructional Strategy on the Educational Outcomes for a Science Exhibit. Doctoral thesis, University of Virginia.


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This dissertation examines factors which may affect the educational effectiveness of science exhibits. Exhibit effectiveness is the result of a complex interaction among exhibit features, cognitive characteristics of the museum visitor, and educational outcomes. The purpose of this study was to determine the relative proportions of field-dependent and field independent visitors in the museum audience, and to ascertain if the cognitive style of visitors interacted with instructional strategies to affect the educational outcomes for a computer-based science exhibit. Cognitive style refers to the self-consistent modes of selecting and processing information that an individual employs throughout his or her perceptual and intellectual activities. It has a broad influence on many aspects of personality and behavior, including perception, memory, problem solving, interest, and even social behaviors and self-concept. As such, it constitutes essential dimensions of individual differences among museum visitors and has important implications for instructional design in the museum. The study was conducted in the spring of 1998 at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago. Two experimental treatments of a computer-based exhibit were tested in the study. The first experimental treatment utilized strategies designed for field-dependent visitors that limited the text and provided more structure and cueing than the baseline treatment of the computer program. The other experimental treatment utilized strategies designed for field-independent visitors that provided hypothesis testing and more contextual information. Approximately two-thirds of the visitors were field-independent. The results of a multiple regression analysis indicated that there was a significant interaction between cognitive style and instructional strategy that affected visitors' posttest scores on a multiple-choice test of the content. Field independent visitors out-performed the field-dependent visitors in the control, baseline, and both experimental treatments. Both field-dependent and field-independent visitor posttest scores increased in the field-dependent experimental treatment and in the field-independent treatment. The most effective treatment for all visitors was the field-independent treatment. Criteria for designing a computer-based exhibit to meet the needs of all visitors were recommended. These included organized, concise text; a structured, rather than exploratory design; and cueing in the form of questions, bold fonts, underlining of important words and concepts, and captioned images."

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
Depositing User: Mr Saeed Salimpour
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2017 15:20
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2018 09:11

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