How a multimedia application can be configured to support individuals based on Riding's wholist/analytic cognitive style dimension

Trevor Barker, University of Hertfordshire, UK

Abstract: The research described in this paper reports a study based on the use of a multimedia learning application configured to support learners differentially according to their position along Riding's Wholist/Analytic (WA) cognitive style dimension (Riding, 1991).

The research took place over a two year period, involving secong year Higher National Diploma (HND) Computer Science groups undertaking a Visual Basic computer programming course.  In year one of the study, the multimedia application was used by students as part of the course.  In the second year of the study, the same application was presented differentially to learners, according to their position along Riding's WA dimension, as measured by the Cognitive Styles Analysis CSA test.   Learners that received the differentiated multimedia format performed significantly better on coursework related to the presentation than learners without the benefit of the differentiated form of the presentation (p=0.02).  Reasons for this difference are discussed in the light of the Wholist/Analytic cognitive style and the skills required by learners in order to complete the programming coursework assessments.

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