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Sternberg (1997) thinking styles and academic achievement
时间:2011-5-4 下午 10:15:16,点击:0

Sternberg (1997) proposed a theory of mental self-government and defined thirteen thinking styles. Zhang (2002) further conceptualized these styles into Type I (including legislative, judicial, hierarchical, global, and liberal), II (including executive, conservative, monarchic, and local), and III (including internal, external, oligarchic, and anarchic) styles in terms of their value-difference and practical validity. Type I styles are characterized by low degree of structure and cognitive complexity, whereas Type II styles are characterized by a high degree of structure and cognitive simplicity (Zhang, 2002). Type III styles may manifest the characteristics of either Type I or II styles, depending on the stylistic demands of the particular tasks (Zhang & Sternberg, 2005). The related studies in the literature have largely supported the view that thinking styles significantly contribute to academic achievement in traditional environments (e.g., Bernardo, Zhang, & Callueng, 2002; Cano-Garcia & Hughes, 2000; Grigorenko & Sternberg, 1997; Zhang, 2000; Zhang & Sternberg, 2000). Some of these studies (e.g., Zhang, 2004) have indicated that the contributions of thinking styles are beyond those of students’ self-rated abilities.

Thinking styles could contribute to learning achievement in both secondary and higher education in different cultural contexts (e.g., Mainland China, Hong Kong, Philippines,and the USA). Grigorenko and Sternberg (1997) found consistent positive correlations between legislative and judicial styles and academic performance, and consistent negative correlations between the executive style and academic performance among college students. In contrast, among Hong Kong secondary school students, Zhang and Sternberg (2000) indicated that thinking styles related to creativity (i.e., Type I thinking styles) had significantly negative correlations with academic achievement (e.g., the liberal style with average grades in art and Chinese language), whereas, thinking styles that required conformity (conservative) and respect for authority (executive) (i.e., Type II styles) were significantly positively correlated with academic achievement (e.g., executive style and conservative style with achievement in computer literacy). Similarly, Cano-Garcia and Hughes (2000) found that the legislative (in a negative sense), executive, and internal styles could best predict academic achievement among a Spanish middle school student sample.

Concerning the relationships between thinking styles and achievement in non-traditional environments, Lee and Tsai (2004) found significant differences between the near transfer of the executive group and the legislative group. In another study, Workman (2004) found that people who scored higher in the global style performed better in computer-aided education than people who scored lower in the global style, whereas the converse was found in computer-based education. In a recent study among Chinese college students, Fan et al. (2010) concluded that, the results were basically consistent with the literature with regard to traditional learning environments (e.g., Grigorenko & Sternberg, 1997), and provided evidence of close associations between thinking styles and academic achievement in hypermedia learning environments. For instance, the executive, conservative, monarchic, and local styles were significantly negatively related to achievements in analysis and problem-solving tests (Fan et al., 2010). However, as the findings in the traditional environments, the results were opposite to those results from middle school students (e.g., Cano-Garcia & Hughes, 2000). Fan et al. (2010) also found that the contributions of particular thinking styles to academic achievement were sometimes over and above the amount of variance explained by personality traits and achievement motivation in hypermedia-based learning environments.
Taken together, prior to the studies identifying the role of styles, students’ academic achievement was mainly ascribed to some classic variables such as ability, personality, and motivation. For instance, there was a general impression in everyday life that a learner with poorer learning performance should be of lower ability. After styles were noted by researchers, the literature largely supports the argument that intellectual styles significantly contribute to students’ academic achievement at different educational levels across cultures.

With respect to the four one-dimensional models, the styles such as field independence, reflective style, divergent thinking style, and achieving approach that are located at one pole, often showed positive contributions to various learning performances (e.g., Abdollahpour et al., 2006; Shokri et al., 2007). Other styles including field dependence, impulsive style, convergent style, and surface approach that are located at the other pole in these models often negatively influence learners’ academic achievement. The rest of the four multi-dimensional intellectual style models (namely, Gregorc’s mind styles, Kolb’s learning styles, Riding and Cheema’s cognitive styles, and Sternberg’s thinking styles) are comprehensive and include very different labels with different values (Zhang & Sternberg, 2005). Their contributions to academic achievement are significant but sometimes inconsistent depending on the types of tests, learning tasks, or specific disciplines under different cultural and educational contexts or specific assessment situations.

In addition, some studies also suggested styles have  incremental validity in predicting academic achievement -- over and above other important classic variables such as ability, personality, and achievement motivation (e.g., Fan et al., 2010; Zhang & Sternberg, 2000).

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From Weiqiao Fan & Yunfeng He (2011). Intellectual Styles and Academic Achievement. In Zhang, L. F., Sternberg, R. J., & Rayner, S. (Eds.) (2011). Handbook of Intellectual Styles: Preferences in Cognition, Learning, and Thinking. Springer Publishing Company: New York.

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