In Educational Psychology textbooks whole sections are usually devoted to individual differences between learners, such as intelligence and personality, which are assumed to be relatively fixed characteristics of individuals. While some of this is interesting, it is often difficult to see what the practical implications are that teachers can actually do anything about. One such individual difference that does seems worth understanding concerns how different students approach whole knowledge areas. This is often termed ‘cognitive style’ and the term ‘style’ here turns out to be crucial, as we shall see. ‘Cognition’ is about how we apprehend the world – how we pay attention, recognise, process information, remember, solve problems and so on. The assumption is that some people consistently do this in quite different ways to others.
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