Engineers and technicians : the effect of cognitive style and gender on visual information processing
Lindsey, Glenn R.
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The purpose of this project was to identify in a subject group of engineers and technicians (N = 62) a preferred mode of representation for facilitating correct recall of information from complex graphics. The modes of representation were black and white (b&w) block, b&w icon, color block, and color icon. The researcher's test instrument included twelve complex graphics (six b&w and six color - three per mode). Each graphics presentation was followed by two multiple-choice questions. Recall performance was better using b&w block mode graphics and color icon mode graphics. A standardized test, the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) was used to identify a cognitive style preference (field dependence). Although engineers and technicians in the sample were strongly field-independent, they were not significantly more field-independent than the normative group in the Witkin, Oltman, Raskin, and Karp study (1971). Tests were also employed to look for any significant difference in cognitive style preference due to gender. None was found. Implications from the project results for the design of visuals and their use in technical training are discussed.