Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of computer feedback and the aptitude of field dependence-independence on students' ability to solve algebraic equations. Two groups of subjects, one group consisting of eighth graders and the other of adults, were randomly assigned to either an "implicit" feedback treatment or an "explicit" feedback treatment. In both treatments the subject directed the computer in a setp-by-step manner to solve randomly generated algebraic equations. The implicit treatment executed all equation operations specified by the subject, while the explicit treatment executed only those operations that simplified the equation. In addition, the explicit treatment provided corrective feedback for those operations that did not simplify the equation;The dependent measure were a posttest, a transfer test, and an attitude survey. Multiple regression analysis revealed a significant interaction between feedback and field dependence-independence for both groups on the transfer test. This interaction was opposite that predicted by previous field dependence-independence research. That is, instead of field dependent subjects performing better under the high-structure explicit feedback treatment, they scored higher under the low-structure implicit treatment. Conversely, the field independent subjects, who were expected to score best under the implicit treatment, actually performed better under the explicit;The interaction between feedback and mathematics achievement was also investigated. A significant interaction was again found for the transfer test as well as the posttest, but only for the small group of adults. Unlike the previous interaction, the direction of this interaction was consistent with earlier research. Significant interactions between feedback and mathematics achievement were also found for the adult group on two statements in the attitude survey. These interactions revealed that the better math students felt that the explicit treatment gave them too much help, and that they understood their mistakes better when they were in the implicit feedback group.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Vicki Allen Boysen



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99 pages