Field Dependency and Performance in Mathematics

Onyebuchi Onwumere, Norman Reid

APA 6th edition
Onwumere, O., & Reid, N. (2014). Field Dependency and Performance in Mathematics. European Journal of Educational Research, 3(1), 43-57. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.3.1.43

Onwumere O., and Reid N. 2014 'Field Dependency and Performance in Mathematics', European Journal of Educational Research , vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 43-57. Available from:

Chicago 16th edition
Onwumere, Onyebuchi and Reid, Norman . "Field Dependency and Performance in Mathematics". (2014)European Journal of Educational Research 3, no. 1(2014): 43-57. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.3.1.43


This study aims to explore the concept of field dependency which may offer a way forward in reducing the cognitive demands of finite working memory capacity, thus enabling higher performance to be attained. Age and gender were considered. With a sample of 120 secondary school students, the importance of working memory in relation to mathematics performance was confirmed (r = 0.55 ). The extent of field dependency was measured with a larger sample of 547, drawn from five age groups. The outcomes were related to the performance in mathematics examinations, a correlation of 0.32 being obtained overall, with every age group showing positive significant correlations. In this, the more field independent perform much better. The outcomes are interpreted in terms of the increased efficiency in the use of finite working memory capacity resources. It was found that students become more field independent with age but the rate of growth of independence declines with age. Girls tended to be slightly more field-independent than boys, perhaps reflecting maturity or their greater commitment during their years of adolescence. The findings are interpreted in terms of the way the brain processes information and the implications for mathematics education are discussed briefly.

Keywords: field dependency, working memory, mathematics education