Effects of Cognitive Styles on Computational Thinking and Gaming Behavior in an Educational Board Game

  • Jung-Chuan Yen National Taipei University of Education
  • Wei-Chi Liao National Taipei University of Education
Keywords: cognitive styles, programming education, computational thinking, gaming behavior


The aim of the study was to examine the effects of different cognitive styles on the elementary students’ computational thinking and gaming behavior in an educational board game for computer programming. This quasi-experimental design study lasted four weeks with 3 hours per week. The subjects were 25 field-independent and field-dependent 6th grade students (assessed by the Group Embedded Figures Test) who participated in a programming foundation course. An ANCOVA and U-test analysis were performed on the definitive test data. The results showed that the field-independent learners achieved significantly improved computational thinking over field-dependent learners in the educational board game, and although no significant difference was found in gaming behavior between them, the field-independence group demonstrated more learning behavior related to the execution of complex thinking. This study suggests to provide differentiated instruction for learners of different cognitive styles, should be more to enhance the effectiveness of programming performance and positive gaming behavior.


Y. C. Lin and J. J. Wu, “Computational thinking and the information technology course for primary and secondary schools,” Pulse of Education Electronic Journal from National Academy for Educational Research, no. 6, Jun. 2016.

J. M. Wing, “Computational thinking,” Communications of the ACM, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 33-36, Mar. 2006.

S. Grover, and R. Pea, “Computational thinking in K-12: A review of the state of the field,” Educational Researcher, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 38-43, 2013.

S. Y. Lye and J. H. L. Koh, “Review on teaching and learning of computational thinking through programming: What is next for K-12?” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 41, pp. 51-61, Dec. 2014.

Y. C. Lin and J. J. Wu, “Computational thinking and the information technology course for primary and secondary schools,” Pulse of Education Electronic Journal from National Academy for Educational Research, no. 6, Jun. 2016.

A. Theodoropoulos, A. Antoniou, and G. Lepouras, “How do different cognitive styles affect learning programming? Insights from a game-based approach in Greek schools,” ACM Transactions on Computing Education, vol. 17, no. 1, 2017.

P. Bayman and R. E. Mayer, “Using conceptual models to teach BASIC computer programming,” Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 80, no.3, pp. 291-298, 1988.

G. Salomon, and D. N. Perkins, “Rocky roads to transfer: Rethinking mechanism of a neglected phenomenon,” Educational psychologist, vol. 24, no. 2, 113-142, 1989.

S. Papert, “The children's machine: Rethinking school in the age of the computer,” Basic Books. New York, NY 10022-5299.

M. Resnick, et al. "Scratch: programming for all," Communications of the ACM, vol. 52, no. 11, pp. 60-67, 2009.

J. M. Wing, “Computational thinking benefits society,” 40th Anniversary Blog of Social Issues in Computing, 2014.

ISTE & CSTA. “Operational definition of computational thinking for K-12 education,” Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/ct-documents/computational-thinking-operational-definition-flyer.pdf.

H. Morgan, Cognitive styles and classroom learning. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997.

W. C. Burnett, “Cognitive style: A meta-analysis of the instructional implications for various integrated computer enhanced learning environments,” Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, 2010.

K. Dragon, “Field dependence and student achievement in technology-based learning: A meta-analysis,” Master thesis, University of Alberta, Alberta, 2009.

H. A. Witkin, C. A. Moore, D. R. Goodenough and P. Cox, “Field-dependent and field-independent cognitive styles and their educational implication,” Review of Educational Research, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 1-64, Mar. 1977.

O. N. Saracho, “Research directions for cognitive style and education,” International Journal of Educational Research, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 287-290, Aug. 1998.

K. Fullerton, “The interactive effects of field dependence-independence and internet document manipulation style on student achievement from computer-based instruction,” Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Pittsburg, 2000.

J. Lee, “The effects of information conveying approaches and cognitive styles on learners’ structural knowledge and perceived disorientation in a hypermedia environment,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University, 2000.

T. Bell, J. Alexander, I. Freeman and M. Grimley, “Computer science unplugged: School students doing real computing without computers,” The New Zealand Journal of Applied Computing and Information Technology, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 20-29, 2009.

Z. S. Sie and G. S. Yan, Mixed plug-in and unplugged Information Science for Taiwan, Handbook. Taipei: Software Liberty Association Taiwan, 2017.

M. Kordaki, and A. Gousiou, “Digital card games in education: A ten year systematic review,” Computers & Education, vol. 109, pp. 122-161, 2017.

H. A. Witkin, “A manual for the embedded figures tests,” Consulting Psychologists Press, 1971.

S. C. Kong, M. M. Chiu, and M. Lai, “A study of primary school students' interest, collaboration attitude, and programming empowerment in computational thinking education,” Computers & Education, vol. 127, pp. 178-189, 2018.