Friday, May 18, 2007

Field Dependent v Field Independent

These terms are used as learning styles and more. Do a little online research and let us know what field dependent v. field independent means in a classroom. What are the general characteristics of each? What are the ramifications in lesson planning? Which are you?


Christine M said...

Field independent learners are more confident and self reliant when faced with a problem solving situation. They are not as skilled as field dependent learners at building interpersonal relationships, yet they are more capable of separating details from a complex background. Field dependent learners have good interpersonal skills but may rely on others when solving problems. They, unlike independent learners, find it more difficult to see the parts in a complex whole.

Amanda Wegener said...

This past Spring I took an education class, EDUC 3000 that briefly discussed field dependence and independence. Field dependence is defined as a cognitive style in which patterns are perceived as a whole. Field dependent people tend to be more oriented toward people and social relationships; they tend to be better at recalling such social information as conversations and relationships, to work best in groups, and prefer subjects such as history and literature. Field independence is defined as a cognitive style in which separate parts of a pattern are perceived and analyzed. Field independent people are more likely to do well with numbers, science and problem solving tasks.

I also did some research on the internet and I found a chart that listed some general characteristics of field dependence and field independence as well as examples for each.

Field Dependence
1) Personal orientation
i.e. - reliance on external frame of reference in processing information
2) Holistic
i.e. - perceives field as a whole; parts are fused with background
3) Dependent
i.e. - the self view is derived from others
4) Not so socially aware
i.e. - less skilled in interpersonal/social relationships

Field Independence
1) Impersonal orientation
i.e. - reliance on internal framework of reference in processing information
2) Analytic
i.e. - perceives a field in terms of its component parts; parts are distinguished from background
3) Independent
i.e. - sense of separate identity
4) Socially sensitive
i.e. - greater skill in interpersonal/social relationships

I had some difficulty finding information on the ramifications in lesson planning. I did find some examples of lesson plans that would be useful for field dependent and independent people. The website I used was

I would consider myself to be more field independent. I would prefer to do my work on my own because that way I know it gets done. I also enjoy math and working with numbers, science, and problem solving.

Athena said...

I did some research and I found from the textbook that “field-independent and field-dependent learners do not differ in intelligence or cognitive ability; however they differ in learning strategies and the approaches they take to problem solving and interacting with others” (Ariza, 27).
The book also brought out that “mainstream European Americans tend to be field-independent learners. The tendency is for them to be motivated by impersonal, analytical activities that do not necessitate a group-type of approach. They may like competition, individual recognition, show a rational, intrinsic appeal for the task without consulting others, and do best with learning the history or theory of the activity before attempting the assignment” (Ariza, 27).
“Field-dependent learners usually hail from non-mainstream cultures and like to work with others to achieve a common goal, while very often interacting with the teacher. These learners are more sensitive to feelings, opinions, and ideas of others and may like to assist one another in a group effort. They like to practice and learn by experimentation, as opposed to conceptual discussion before attempting the task. Students from cultures such as African American; Arab American; Hispanic; Native American, and many Asian American tend to be field-dependent and are greatly influenced by the teacher. This type of learner may prefer a global perception and be more attentive to social clues” (Ariza, 27-28).

The general characteristics of field dependent and field independent was brought out by research on the internet from an article called “On Being Dependent or Independent in Computer Based Learning Environments” written by Dr Boris Handal and Dr Anthony Herrington. It states, “FI learners have been referred to as ‘analytical, competitive, individualistic, task oriented, internally referent, intrinsically motivated, hypothesis testing, self-structuring, linear, detail oriented, and visually perceptive’ whereas FD learners have been referred to as ‘group-oriented, global sensitive to social interactions and criticism, extrinsically motivated, externally referential, not visually perceptive, non-verbal, and passive learners who prefer external information structures’. Governor (1998) added that FD learners are in more need of social input and external help in interpreting clues embedded in a particular learning task. Hu (1998) observed that FI learners are more analytic and rely less on external clues than their FD counterparts. FI learners, it appears, are more able to generate and structure their own knowledge rather than accepting knowledge reprocessed by others. Hall (2000) pointed out that the differences between FI and FD learners are more likely the result of ‘varying information processing skills such as selective attention, short-term memory encoding, and long-term recall at which field independent individuals are more accurate and efficient’.

In the classroom “Field-dependent teachers are usually student-centered and try to use positive reinforcement as opposed to negative feedback. They often use a hands-on, participatory approach with student discussion as opposed to lecture or discovery methods of teaching. The ramification in this type of teacher’s lesson planning is that not all students learn by doing things hands-on. Some students are visual learners, auditory learners, linguistic, and so on.
Field-independent teachers may focus more on the subject, use a negative evaluation approach, prefer inquiry or problem-solving methods of instruction and the teaching situation may be more impersonal” (Ariza, 28). The ramification in this particular lesson planning is that many students need to be in an environment that is welcoming and friendly in order for learning process to occur. Teachers need to understand each student’s various learning styles. Incorporating more than one learning style into a lesson will help make a teacher’s lesson plan most effective.

“Further development by Witkin’s team has led to the creation of the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) to measure the FD/FI constructs and identify those learners that lean towards each category in their learning style. Respondents scoring within one standard deviation above the mean are considered to be FI learners compared to their FD counterparts, whose scores are located one standard deviation below the mean. Students around the mean are considered to be field-mixed (FM)” (Handal and Herrington). I probably would consider myself to be a little bit of both. I consider myself field-mixed because I am an intrinsically motivated person with an independent identity, but at the same time I learn best through hands-on tasks and enjoy working in groups.

Malissa Borges said...

Field Dependent people are better at recalling social information from conversations and relationships. Here are some of their general tendencies:

1.They rely on the surrounding perceptual field.
2.They have difficulty attending to, extracting, and using non salient cues.
3.They have difficulty providing structure to ambiguous information.
4.They have difficulty restructuring new information and forging links with prior knowledge.
5.They have difficulty retrieving information from long-term memory.

Field Independent people are able to abstract an element from its context, or background field. Here are some of their general tendencies:

1.They perceive objects as separate from the field.
2.They can disembed relevant items from non-relevant items within the field.
3.They can provide structure when it is not inherent in the presented information.
4.They can reorganize information to provide a context for prior knowledge.
5.They tend to be more efficient at retrieving items from memory.

I think that I'm a field independent person because I can link and organize prior to new information. I also believe that I’m good at providing structure and organization, even though it wasn’t particularly asked for.