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Bridging Cognition and Personality in Education: The Role of Style in Performance and Development

Messick, Samuel J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Cognition, Cognitive Style, Performance Factors, Student Characteristics, Field Dependence-Independence, Educational Experience


In an attempt to illuminate the interrelatedness of noncognitive and cognitive domains or, more pointedly, of affection, conation, and cognition emphasis was placed on variables that not only operate across these domains but are also potentially integrative. Prominent among such variables are personal styles, particularly cognitive styles. The properties and problems of cognitive styles are examined, with special emphasis on field independence versus field sensitivity and on two stylistic dimensions of attentional scanning. The role of cognitive styles as both competence variables and performance variables is addressed, along with the difficulty of disentangling style from ability because of reciprocal determinism in their development. The educational implications of cognitive styles are explored, especially as they bear on the problem of the match between student characteristics and educational experiences and on the value-laden nature of style-based pedagogical decisions.

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