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Cognitive Styles of Indian, Metis, Inuit and Non-Natives of Northern Canada and Alaska and Implications for Education

by Koenig, Delores Mary

Abstract (Summary)
The present study investigated the cognitive styles of Indian, Metis, Inuit and non-native adults and adolescents of northern Canada and Alaska. The study identified three relational and two analytical cognitive styles. The styles differed significantly from each other in relation to cultural background, language facility, level of post-secondary education, sex and age of the respondents. Cultural background was found to be the most significant discriminator of those under investigation.

Procedure of the study involved the collection of verbalized responses to five open-ended questions concerning education from one hundred northern residents. A total of 528 minutes 32 seconds of taperecorded responses was available from twenty treaty and status Indians, twenty Metis, twenty Inuit and forty non-natives. Subjects included parents, university students, high school students, teacher trainees, teachers, education administrators, native politicians and general community members. The data were submitted to content analysis procedures with items coded according to the Data Analysis of Cognitive Style (DACS) Scale which had been adapted for use in the present study from the work of E. S. Schneidman (1966). Scale item frequencies for each respondent were tabulated and submitted for statistical analyses to the SPSS program discriminant analysis. This analysis identified significantly different functions which translated into patterns of thinking or cognitive styles. In addition this analysis identified the relative importance of functions as discriminators among groups and computed predictability scores which showed the percentage of respondents who were correctly classified according to cognitive styles. and demographic variables.

Findings of this study must be considered in relation to the following limitations: the size and nature of the stratified random sample; the reliability of the coders; the use of the unvalidated DACS scale; the ability of the analytical procedures to correctly discriminate among the study groups.

The study found that the groups which tended to think in relational styles were: Natives (Indian, Metis, Inuit), people with no university education or with less than one year at university; bilinguals (English and a native language); males; people under twenty years and over forty years of age. The terms Conflict-relational, Moral-relational and Inexactrelational were used to more precisely identify differing cognitive behaviors within the overall relational category. The groups which were found to exhibit analytical cognitive style behaviors included: the nonnative group; those respondents with two to four years of university education; and respondents between thirty and forty years of age. Subcategories within analytical styles were Conflict-analytical and Inexactanalytical.

When the Indian, Metis and Inuit respondents were combined into a "native" cultural group they strongly identified with the Moral-relational cognitive style (people-oriented, subjective, holistic, concerned with morals and ethics). The non-native group showed a strong negative relationship to this style. However, when each cultural group was analyzed separately, it was found that the Indian and Inuit subjects were somewhat more analytical (objective, linear, field-independent) than the Metis but less so than the non-natives. On the analysis of four groups, the nonnatives were found to relate to both relational and analytical styles of thinking, indicating a wide range of differences within the group.

It was concluded that significant differences existed in the cognitive styles preferred by respondents of different cultural, language, education, sex and age groups in this study. Cultural background was found to be the strongest discriminator in relation to cognitive style differences. It was further concluded that according to extrapolation of findings to the theoretical model it may be possible and desirable to modify curricula content and teaching techniques to achieve a closer match between teaching styles and cognitive and learning styles of. students of indigenous cultural backgrounds.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Scharf, Murray P.; Marino, Mary; Dryer, A. J.; MacBeath, A.; Blue, Arthur W.

School:University of Saskatchewan

School Location:Canada - Saskatchewan

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:dacs aboriginal education metis inuit indian cognitive style data analysis of

ISBN:

Date of Publication:07/03/2007

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