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Eurasian Society of Educational Research
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Christiaan Huygensstraat 44, Zipcode:7533XB, Enschede, THE NETHERLANDS
field dependency working memory mathematics education

Field Dependency and Performance in Mathematics

Onyebuchi Onwumere , Norman Reid

Mathematics is an important school subject but one which often poses problems for learners. It has been found that learners do not possess the cogniti.

M

Mathematics is an important school subject but one which often poses problems for learners. It has been found that learners do not possess the cognitive capacity to handle understanding procedures, representations, concepts, and applications at the same time. while the extent of field dependency may hold the key to one way by which the working memory can be used more efficiently. This study aims to explore the concept of field dependency which may offer a way forward in reducing the cognitive demands of finite working memory capacity, thus enabling higher performance to be attained. Age and gender were considered. With a sample of 120 secondary school students, the importance of working memory in relation to mathematics performance was confirmed (r = 0.55 ). The extent of field dependency was measured with a larger sample of 547, drawn from five age groups. The outcomes were related to the performance in mathematics examinations, a correlation of 0.32 being obtained overall, with every age group showing positive significant correlations. In this, the more field independent perform much better. The outcomes are interpreted in terms of the increased efficiency in the use of finite working memory capacity resources. It was found that students become more field independent with age but the rate of growth of independence declines with age. Girls tended to be slightly more field-independent than boys, perhaps reflecting maturity or their greater commitment during their years of adolescence. The findings are interpreted in terms of the way the brain processes information and the implications for mathematics education are discussed briefly.

Keywords: Field dependency, working memory, mathematics education

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