An Examination of Cognitive Complexity and Self-Directed Learner Readiness of Traditional and Nontraditional Undergraduate Students
Type of DegreeDissertation
Leadership and Technology
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With the demand for higher education, many nontraditional students are returning to school. There have been differences concerning age and sex, with an increase in adult females comprising the new undergraduate population. Institutions of higher learning are prompted to understand how nontraditional students learn. This study examined differences and relationships among age, sex, cognitive complexity, and self-directed learning readiness. Cognitive complexity (field dependence-independence) was measured to determine whether relationships existed with age and/or sex. Further, relationships were investigated between age and self-directed learning readiness. The following questions were investigated: (1) What differences, if any, exist between traditional and non-traditional college students and levels of field dependence-independence?; (2) What differences, if any, exist between male and female college students and levels of field dependence-independence?; (3) What differences, if any, exist between traditional and non-traditional college students and levels of self-directed learning readiness?; (4) What relationship, if any, exists between levels of field dependence-independence and levels of self-directed learning readiness? Research questions were investigated using Analyses of Variance and Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficients. One-hundred seventeen undergraduates were administered the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) and a demographic questionnaire, exploring age, sex, ethnicity, educational level, and discipline. Participants were provided the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS); forty-one returned it. Results indicated no significant relationship between age, sex, educational level, or discipline and levels of field dependence-independence. Results did indicate a significant relationship between ethnicity and levels of field dependence-independence (p < .001), revealing higher levels of field independence in the majority ethnic group (White) than in the minority ethnic group (Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Native American). A higher level of self-directed learner readiness was indicated among nontraditional students, but the effect size was small. The correlation analysis indicated no significant relationship between levels of field dependence-independence and self-directed learner readiness.