INTERACTIVE EFFECT OF COGNITIVE STYLES ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS IN SELECTED NATIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN KENYA
LUSWETI, SELLAH LUSIKE
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It is important to understand both ‘how much’ a student learns and ‘how’ they learn. Without focusing on the ‘how’ of learning, concepts may have to be taught repeatedly due to use of inefficient storage and retrieval strategies, consequently this may lead to delays in syllabus coverage. This study which was informed by the cognitive styles theories was a correlational study of ex-post facto nature. The study explored the interactive effect of student-teacher cognitive styles on learners’ performance in Mock and KCSE Examinations. The objectives of the study were to:  profile the cognitive styles of students and teachers  determine whether cognitive styles of male and female students differ  determine whether there is a difference in cognitive styles among low, average and high performing students  compare performance on visual and verbal questions among students with differing cognitive styles  determine how students’ and teachers’ cognitive styles interact to significantly influence academic performance in Mock and KCSE Examinations and  determine the predictive power of cognitive styles on academic performance of learners. The target population for the study was all students in the sixty schools elevated to National School status across Kenya’s 47 Counties between 2011 and 2012. Six schools from three counties were selected. One Form Four class was randomly selected from each of the sampled schools. The study sample comprised of 321 students, six teachers and six Academic Masters. Cognitive styles were measured on the concrete-abstract, verbal-visual, activereflective and sequential-global dimensions. Measurement of variables was effected using a Cognitive Styles Inventory, an interview guide, and a marks record form. Stability of the Cognitive Styles Inventory was determined through test-retest method. All instruments were validated through expert reviews and piloting. Data was analysed by running t-tests, ANOVA and regression analyses. The study revealed that: (i) Students were predominantly concrete, active, visual and sequential (ii) Cognitive styles of boys and girls only differed significantly on the active-reflective dimension (ii) Cognitive styles of low, average and high achievers only differed significantly on the active-reflective dimension (iii) A learner whose cognitive styles closely matched those of his/her teacher did not perform differently from a learner whose styles differed from those of his/her teacher (both in Mock and KCSE Examinations). However, the study further revealed that it was not simply the level of student-teacher congruence that mattered; instead it was the type of profile on which the two were matched on. Moreover, students whose cognitive styles matched those of their teachers to a level of 100% scored lower in Mock Chemistry Examinations yet, they had higher Mock to KCSE margins of improvement. The study designed a regression equation with five regressor variables that accounted for 62.8% of variance in performance in KCSE Chemistry Examinations. The study recommended that teachers and learners should profile themselves early in the learning cycle and adjust their teaching/learning strategies accordingly. It further recommended that the concept of cognitive styles be incorporated in teacher training programmes.