Learning Styles Resource Site







Field-Dependence and Independence

Witkin et al.

Identifies two cognitive styles: field dependent and field independent.  This is one of the rare learning styles instruments that has been reasonably well validated; the field dependence/field independence model has successfully predicted academic performance in a number of studies (Hayes & Allinson, 1997; Thompson et al, 1979; Wilson, 1998). (Field independent students are more likely than field dependent students to succeed academically.) 

Unlike many of the other inventories and theories, these dimensions are entirely distinct and separate from the Jungian dimensions. So they do not have any relation to introversion-extroversion, concreteness-abstractness, or random-sequential thinking in any way. This makes this theory a useful adjunct to the others. It is also quite predictive of what might be called giftedness. Those who have a field-independent preference due to their narrow focus and ability to screen can process information more efficiently, but may miss the social context that their field-dependent peers more readily perceive. So an over simplification would be that field-dependence leads to popularity and field-independence leads to academic success.

Some scholars feel, however, that the GEFT measures ability rather than learning style, making it an inappropriate choice as a tool to help students understand themselves.