A Comparison of Field-Dependence Cognitive Styles of Professionals in Purchasing and Consumer Service and Secondary Marketing Education Students, with Implications for Workforce Development

Robert L. Fritz
Barbara Stewart
Marcella Norwood
University of Houston

Abstract

The field-dependence cognitive styles of 44 professionals in purchasing and customer service occupations as assessed by the Group Embedded Figures Test provided a benchmark to interpret cognitive style data for 239 secondary marketing education students. The professionals were more field-independent than students. Professional males were more field-independent than professional females and both student gender groups. Male marketing education students were more field-independent than female students. These field-dependence cognitive style differences suggest that males have greater access to analytic traits such as restructuring skill, problem solving interest, and skill with abstractions. Theoretical and practical implications for workplace skill development are discussed.

Introduction

While career and technical education professionals expect 21st century job skills to move toward greater complexity, much of the concern involves the cognitive domain ( Duffy, 1999 ). The projected trend reflects the upward evolution of the past century in workbased skills and employer demands for greater sophistication in a variety of academic and job skills ( Barner, 2000 ; Martin, 2000 ). The skill expectation outlined by Hunt ( 1995 ) suggests that workers will need increasingly sophisticated skills to solve problems that are more often ill-defined, unstructured, and without obvious resolution. Hunt ( 1995 ) even wondered if the workforce will be smart enough for future challenges.

Objectives

To gain insight about the evolving job and analytic skill issue, this study determined the following:

Method

Subjects

Results

Table 2 shows that the t-test determined that the purchasing and customer service professionals had a GEFT mean score that was statistically significant in its difference from secondary marketing education students. The professional group M = 8.32 (SD = 4.12) while the student group M = 7.03 (SD = 7.03). The professional group was relatively more field-independent, and had scores that were more clustered (SD 1 = 4.11 to 12.44) than students (SD 1 = 0 to 14.41). This finding is consistent with theories of vocational development ( Holland, 1985 ) and field-dependence cognitive style ( Witkin & Goodenough, 1981 ). Life experiences among the professionals, including job tenure (M = 11.4 years) and age (M = 40 years), may have promoted occupational congruence.

Discussion

This study compared the field-dependence cognitive styles of 44 professionals in purchasing and customer service to determine (a) if the GEFT scores of 236 secondary marketing education students statistically differed from the professionals, and (b) the existence of gender differences in cognitive style based on membership in professional and student groups. The following discusses the findings and implications for these questions.

References

Barner , R. (2000). Talent wars in the executive suite: six trends shaping recruitment. The Futurist, 34 (3), 35-41.

Beck , R. H. (1991). General education: Vocational and academic collaboration (MDS-057). Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

Bertini , M., Pizzamiglio, L. & Wapner, S. (1986). Epilogue: Relation of Witkin's work to future trends in psychology. In M. Bertini, L. Pizzamiglio, S. Wapner (Eds). Field dependence in psychological theory, research, and application . (pp. 5-13). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Biehler , R. F. (1978). Psychology applied to teaching (3rd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Bloom , B. S. (Ed.) (1984). Taxonomy of educational objectives, handbook I: Cognitive domain . New York: McKay.

Boyd , H. W., Westfall, R., & Stasch, S. F. (1985). Marketing research: Text and cases (6th ed.). Homewood, IL: Irwin.

Bruer , J. T. (1997). Education and the brain: A bridge too far. Educational Researcher, 26 (8), 4-16.

Cronbach , L. J. (1963). Educational psychology (2nd ed.). New York: Harcourt.

Cronbach , L. J. & Snow, R. E. (1977). Aptitudes and instructional methods . New York: Irvington.

DeHart , M. (1998). Personal communication. Houston, TX, October 15, 1998.

Duffy , R. J. (1999, July). The steps you take, the moves you make. Purchasing Today, 10 (7), 38-48.

Durr , M. (1998). Personal communication. Houston, TX, February 9, 1998.

Fritz , R L. (1981). The role of field-dependence and field-independence in secondary school students' re-enrollments in vocational education and their attitudes toward teachers and programs. (Doctoral dissertation, Auburn University, April) (University Microfilms, Number 81-19, 563).

Fritz , R. L. (1993). A synthesis of empirical and theoretical research on student congruence needs in marketing education. Marketing education research proceedings: Volume III, 1993 (pp. 1-29). Columbus, OH: Marketing Education Association.

Fritz , R. L. (1994). Gender differences in field-dependence and educational style. The Journal of Vocational Education Research, 19 (1) 1-21.

Fritz , R. (1998). Workplace implications of the cognitive styles and problem solving interests of secondary marketing education students. Marketing Education Research Proceedings, 7 , 76-97.

Ginsburg , H. & Opper, S. (1979). Piaget's theory of intellectual development (2nd Ed.). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

Gitman , L.J. & McDaniel, C. (2000). The future of business . Cincinnati: South-Western.

Hansen , J. W. (1997). Cognitive styles and technology-based education. Journal of Technology Studies, 23 (1), 14-23.

Holland , J. (1985). Making vocational choices: A theory of careers . Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Hunt , E. (1995). Will we be smart enough? New York: Russell Sage.

Lambert , D. M., Stock, J. R., & Ellram, L. M. (1998). Fundamentals of logistics management . Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Marshall , R. & Tucker, M. (1992). Thinking for a living . New York: Basic Books.

McCaslin , M. & Good, T. L. (1992). Compliant cognition: The misalliance of management and instructional goals in current school reform. Educational Researcher, 21 (3), 4-17.

Messick , S. (1987). Structural relationships across cognition, personality, and style. In R. E. Snow & M. J. Farr (Eds.) Aptitude, learning, and instruction volume 3: Conative and affective process analyses . (pp. 35-75) Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Martin , A. (2000). The family and consumer science profession: A viable career for the new millennium. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 92 (2), 51-55.

Miller , G. (1997). Are distance education programs more acceptable to field-independent learners? Proceedings of the 1997 National Educational Communications and Technology Association Convention . Albuquerque, NM.

Payne , L. (1998). Personal communication. Houston, TX, May 20, 1998.

Schmidt , B. J. (1992). Vocational education research: Past, present, and future. The Journal of Vocational Education Research, 17 (1), 1-9.

Sigel , I. E. & Coop, R.H. (1974). Conitive style and classroom practices. In R.H. Coop & K. White (Eds.), Psychological concepts in the classroom . New York: Harper & Row.

Snow , R. E. (1989). Toward assessment of cognitive and conative structures in learning. Educational Researcher, 18 (9), 8-14.

Tanner , D. & Tanner, L. (1992). Curriculum development: Theory to practice (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan.

U.S. Department of Education (2000). Mini-digest of education statistics, 1999 . Washington, DC: Author.

Werner , H. & Kaplan, J. (1956). Personality development . Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Witkin , H. A. (1978). Field dependence-independence in cultural adaptation. Heinz Werner lecture series . Worcester, MA: Clarke University Press.

Witkin , H. A., & Goodenough, D. R. (1981). Field dependence and field independence cognitive styles: Essence and origins . New York: International Press.

Witkin , H. A., Moore, C. A., Oltman, P. K., Goodenough, D. R., Friedman, R., Owen, D. R., & Raskin, E. (1977). Field-dependence and field-independence cognitive styles and their educational implications. Review of Educational Research, 47 (1), 1-64.

Witkin , H. A., Oltman, P. K., Raskin, E. & Karp, S. A. (1971). A manual for the group embedded figures test . Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


ISSN: 1531-4952