Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Edward L. Counts, Jr.

Committee Members

Dania Bilal, Jean A. Derco, John R. Ray


The field dependency and independency cognitive style affects the academic performance of students. It has been generally accepted that the needs of field dependent students could be accommodated in learning environments. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of two instructional support features (model transparency and feedback) on the performance of field dependent and field independent students in a Web-based simulation environment.

In this study, there were two treatment groups. One group, consisting of 14 participants, received a black-box simulation (no model transparency) with no feedback (black-box + no feedback), and another group, consisting of 8 participants, received a glass-box simulation (with model transparency) with feedback feature (glass-box + feedback). The model transparency was provided in text-only format. The feedback was diagnostic and immediate. To assess the participants’ cognitive style, the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) was implemented. The participants’ achievements were evaluated with a performance assessment method that showed the near-transfer skills.

The results of this study revealed that the simulation performance was similar for both the participants interacting with the glass-box simulation with feedback feature and the participants interacting with the black-box simulation with no feedback feature. There was no statistically significant correlation between participants’ degree of field independency (GEFT scores) and their simulation performance. Finally, there was no interaction between the treatments and the cognitive style of participants.

Significant performance differences were reported in the literature for field dependent and field independent students in learning environments. The results of this study were contradictory to the literature review. Directions for future research are discussed.

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