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Cognitive style, hypermedia navigation and learning

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Computers & Education Volume 44, Number 4, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This study examined the influence of cognitive style, spatial orientation and computer expertise on hypertext navigation patterns and learning outcomes when participants interacted with a hypermedia presentation. A sample of 306 undergraduates was pre-tested both on their cognitive style and on their self-reported frequency and ability in using computers. From the initial sample, 40 students were selected to form four groups with the following characteristics: (a) 10 high computer users – sequential thinkers, (b) 10 high computer users – holistic thinkers, (c) 10 low computer users – sequential thinkers and (d) 10 low computer users – holistic thinkers. All participants completed a self-report questionnaire measuring spatial orientation and were then requested to browse freely a hypermedia presentation on the ancient Mayan civilisation. Finally, the students completed a post-test to assess the recall of the hypermedia presentation and the cognitive organisation of the acquired knowledge. The results indicated that hypermedia navigation behaviour was linked to computer skills rather than to cognitive style and that learning outcomes were unaffected by cognitive style or by computer skills. However, learning outcomes were positively affected by specific search patterns, that is by re-visiting hypermedia sections and visiting overview sections in the early stages of hypermedia browsing. Further, navigating overview sections and holistic processing fostered knowledge representation in the form of maps. These findings suggest that individual differences can affect hypermedia navigation even though their role in learning is complex and the impact of cognitive style on learning outcomes was proved to be less important than initially predicted.


Calcaterra, A., Antonietti, A. & Underwood, J. (2005). Cognitive style, hypermedia navigation and learning. Computers & Education, 44(4), 441-457. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved September 19, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 30, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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