Friday, July 1, 2011

Field independence in haptic pronunciation instruction

As reported in this article by Hecht and Reiner, field dependence/independence cognitive style may have an impact on how readily one is able to "get" the felt sense of a haptically anchored object in virtual reality or through haptic video as well. In HICP terms, that would suggest that the field independent learner should be better able to focus on and recall targeted objects (sounds, words or processes)--without getting too engaged or distracted by any one modality involved or feature of the visual field--bringing as much information and cognitive integration to the event as possible.

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There is a fascinating interplay involved here. The "danger" of haptic-based or other "physical" techniques is that the learner may be so engaged with the somatic experience that the learning objective or structure in focus is lost or at least not well connected. Field independence suggests the possibility of better cognitive/noncognitive balance in the experience. On the face of it, that does seem to explain why some learners (although not many) find haptic work less effective or efficient. For example, they may be able to remember the pedagogical movement pattern (PMP) associated with a vowel but not the pronunciation. Likewise, a learner's over-enthusiastic, dramatic or emotional response in anchoring a targeted expression, not uncommon in field-dependent individuals, may actually be counter-productive, resulting in relatively poor, limited access and recall later.

Effective multiple modality learning requires that information from all senses being brought to the problem "at hand" are represented appropriately and optimally. EHIEP protocols work only to the extent that instructors and students maintain control and maximal attention in the process. Working with body movement there is always the possibility of things getting a bit "out of hand," but that should be avoided to the extent possible--especially for the more field dependent and hyperactive among us.

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