Exploring the relationship between cognitive style and teaching style

Carol Evans*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


To a great extent the nature of the relationship between the cognitive style of a student teacher and their predominant teaching style in the classroom has been ignored by educational research. This study used an opportunist sample of 84 trainee teachers studying for one year full time for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, in a range of subject specialist areas, based at a single English university. Students' cognitive styles were assessed, and those with more extreme cognitive style scores were selected to participate in semi-structured interviews. A subject specialist mentor had been assigned to each student; 77% (n=59) completed a questionnaire on their perceptions of the teaching style of their PGCE student. Statistically significant differences in approaches to learning and teaching were identified between the four cognitive styles. Gender differences were also noted with analytic-verbaliser females adopting the most analytical style in the classroom and wholistimager males the most wholist style. Qualitative analysis identified differences in approach to teaching between the students with more extreme cognitive styles. Wholists were more sensitive than analytic students to situational factors such as the culture of the school, support from the mentor, and in their ability to accept criticism. Further research is recommended to verify such findings. In this respect, a longitudinal study focusing on changes in cognitive style and approach in the classroom could be fruitful. Consequently, universities need to adopt varied teaching and assessment tools varied in order to accommodate the continuum of cognitive styles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-530
Number of pages22
JournalEducational Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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