Field dependent/independent college undergraduates and the usage of a computer-assisted instruction program in a horticulture class
Anthony Wayne Kahtz, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign . Awarded
This study used qualitative and quantitative methods to explore college undergraduates' field dependence/independence and their usage of a computer assisted instruction program (CAI). Learning preference differences and similarities of field dependent/independent students were qualitatively investigated with an emphasis on the usage of a CAI program designed for an ornamental horticulture class. After administration of the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) instrument, interviews further explored how each student conceptualized their learning process. The findings were congruent with the theory of field dependency. In addition, results indicated that field independent students felt that using the CAI program was beneficial. Although field independent students may be able to use the program to initially acquire information in the course, it's best usage may be to present recall cues to refresh their learning. In contrast, field dependent students did not feel there was benefit in using the CAI program, but with provided structure, benefits may occur. It would appear that the CAI program may be a good method of presenting recall cues to refresh field dependent student learning but not for the initial presentation of information. Both groups of students expressed advantages to the use of the CAI program but preferred traditional instructional methods of laboratory and lecture as their primary source of information. The quantitative part of this research was conducted with two intact classes and were evaluated as separate experiments. After administration of the GEFT, students were blocked and randomly assigned to either an experimental or control group. Participants in the experimental group used the CAI program as a partial lab substitute in an ornamental horticulture class. Data indicated that the CAI program was of equal benefit to field dependent/independent students' academic achievement. These results showed that the CAI program could be used as a partial lab substitute for traditional laboratories with no adverse effect upon student academic achievement, regardless of their level of field dependency.
Kahtz, A.W. Field dependent/independent college undergraduates and the usage of a computer-assisted instruction program in a horticulture class. Ph.D. thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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