The interaction between new learning technologies and cognitive style

Dr. Chris D. Smith and Helen Whiteley

University of Central Lancashire

Smith and Whiteley (1999) reported a possible link between cognitive style and teaching medium, while Smith et al. (2000) described a study, which related cognitive style to examination performance on examination questions based on either standard lectures or on web-based material. However, the conclusions, which could be drawn from the results of both studies, were limited by sample size and other methodological considerations. In order to overcome these problems, a study was conducted of how the MCQ examination performance of over 100 students was affected by their cognitive style and by five different teaching media.

A 50-question multiple-choice examination paper was devised consisting of questions from material delivered via lectures, email, a CD, lectures supported by email summaries and lectures supported by the CD material. The paper was used as part of the assessment of a second year undergraduate cognitive psychology course. Over 100 of the students on the course completed the Cognitive Style Index (CSI) (Allinson and Hayes, 1991), which measures cognitive style in terms of an intuition-analysis dimension. CSI scores were then correlated with all measures of assessment for the course, including a practical report, essay-based examination questions, overall MCQ examination performance and, in particular, with performance on questions based on material delivered by each of the five teaching media. Comparisons were made of the same aspects of performance between the 40 highest (analytic) scorers and the 40 lowest (intuitive) scorers.

The potential impact of different modes of lecture delivery and different modes of assessment on students with different learning styles is discussed.


Allinson, C. W. And Hayes, J. (1991). The Cognitive Style Index. University of Leeds, U.K.

Smith, C. D. And Whiteley, H. E. (1999). Do learning styles determine who gains from integrating learning technology into psychology teaching? In Proceedings of the 4th Annual European Learning Styles Information Network Conference. University of Central Lancashire Press.

Smith, C. D., Whiteley, H. E. And Stone, M. A. (2000). Cognitive style, teaching medium and examination performance in psychology students. Paper delivered at Computers in Psychology 2000 Conference. March 2000. University of York, UK.

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