Faculty of Education - Theses

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    The cognitive styles, learning strategies and vocational interests of South-East Asian and Australian students
    Fallon, Felicity R. ( 2003)
    Many factors are involved in the way an individual gains an understanding of Mathematics. Their cognitive style, i.e. way they code information for further processing in the brain, is one of these. The learning strategies that they use when a mismatch exists between their preferred style and the material presented to them is another. Riding and Rayner (1998) have developed a model for the whole learning process which contains two dimensions of cognitive style, the Wholist/Analytic and the Verbaliser/Imager dimensions. In the same way as individuals have different preferred cognitive styles, they also express different vocational interests. Holland (1985) developed a model for describing and assessing these vocational interests, the RIASEC model. Cultural factors may influence both an individual's preferred cognitive style and their vocational interests. This study investigates the effect of cultural factors in both these areas, looking particularly at the cultures of South-East Asia and Australia and the cognitive styles and vocational interests of students undertaking a first year university Mathematics course. Cultural differences were found in both areas. Students from South-East Asia (27 males and 17 females) tended to have a more visual cognitive style than Australian students (27 makes and 16 females), particularly when they learnt to read first in a character-based language. In accordance with the values of their Confucian-heritage background, the students from South-East Asia scored more highly on Holland's Conventional scale than did Australian students. In this study, support was also found for several aspects of Riding's Cognitive Control Model. One of these was the use of a Complementary cognitive style as a learning strategy when a mismatch occurred between an individual's preferred learning style and the material presented to them.