Cognitive Thinking Styles

Cognitive Thinking Styles

There is minimal extant research literature that focused on examining the effect of individual differences (e.g., such as cognitive styles, propensity to trust) on students’ virtual teaming experiences.Research suggests that online learning environments may be more suitable for some students than others (Arbaugh&Stelzer, 2003). Understanding the characteristics of online students and integrating this understanding into designing student-centered collaborative learning environments foster successful learning experiences in online education.The research problem is, therefore, to research the effects of cognitive style differences, thinking styles, team satisfaction and conflict management methods on the academic performance of online students.

The purpose of this study is to extend the existing work that discusses the relationship between individual differences and the use of virtual teams in online education; in particular, this study focuses on the relationship between cognitive styles and teamwork effectiveness and also considers the potential effects of process variables. Explicitly, the study set out four objectives. The first objective is to assess the impact of individual cognitive style differences on students’ academic achievements. Secondly, the study aims to explore the predictive power of thinking styles in students’ teamwork satisfaction. Also, the research examines whether thinking styles can predict interaction patterns in online team conferencing. Lastly, the aims to ascertain whether differences in cognitive styles are associated with levels of trust and conflict management solutions which emerge in virtual teaming.

The theory for this study states that cognitive thinking styles, trust, conflict management influence the academic performance of online students and virtual team performance. According to (), there are correlations between cognitive style and students’ efficacy inworking with online technology. Besides, people may function better in a work environment which matches their cognitive thinking style which influences teamwork in an organization. Similarly, () argued that the method used in handling the conflict is more important to the success of partnership than the actual conflict itself. Conflict management is thus an l important determinant of the success of virtual cooperation for online students.

Four researchhypotheses were formulated for this study based on the results of past research and the discussions.The first hypothesis states that cognitive styles (both ‘scope’ and ‘levels’ dimension) have no predictive power on students’ academic achievement in virtual courses. The second hypothesis states that Students with external styles will post more messages on average during an online conference discussion than those with private or flexible methods. Moreover, the third hypothesis of the study states that students with external techniques will be more satisfied with the teamwork process than those with private or flexible styles in terms of overall satisfaction, perceived learning, valuing on teamwork process and recognized the quality of decision making. The fourth hypothesis states that the trust level will be higher for students with external styles than those with internal or flexible methods. Also, the hypothesis adds that students with external techniques will be more likely to use collaborative conflict management strategies than those with private or flexible styles. Similarly, according to the fourth hypothesis, people with global forms will be more likely to use collaborative conflict management strategies than those with internal or flexible styles.

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