Some effects of cognitive style on learning UNIX

Lynne Coventry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have highlighted the existence of differences in the cognitive style adopted by different individuals. One dimension of cognitive style has the extremes, "Field-Dependency" and "Field-Independency". These styles affect the way a person structures and processes information which may in turn have a profound affect on the way a person learns to use a computer system. This study investigated the effects of these styles on learning to use the UNIX † UNIX is a trademark of AT & T. operating system. Subjects were required to work through a number of tasks using UNIX and to ask for help when it was required. The results indicated that field-dependent subjects were less likely to know the command and more likely to ask for help without making any attempt at the task than field-independent subjects, whereas the latter were more likely to attempt the task and make errors than ask for help. These results indicate a need for a help system which can provide appropriate types of help for these two different styles of learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-365
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Man-Machine Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1989
Externally publishedYes


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