Exploring Relationships Between Field (In)dependence, Multiple Intelligences, and L2 Reading Performance Among Iranian L2 Learners

Document Type : Research Article


Shahrekord University


L2 learners’ individual differences are crucial factors that deserve attention in L2 education. Focusing on 2 main areas of individual differences (i.e., field (in)dependence and multiple intelligences), this study explored their relationships with L2 reading performance. Participants were 64 TEFL undergraduates and postgraduates. To assess the participats’ degree of field (in)dependence and multiple intelligences profiles, GEFT (Witkin, Oltman, Raskin, & Karp, 1971) and McKenzie’s Multiple Intelligences Inventory (1999) were administered, respectively, and their L2 reading performance was assessed through a task-based reading test (Salmani-Nodoushan, 2003), which measures performance on 5 reading tasks of true-false, sentence completion, outlining, elicitation of writer’s views, and scanning. Data were quantitatively analyzed using Pearson product-moment correlation. Results revealed significant positive relationships between field independence and performance on the 4 reading tasks of true-false, sentence completion, outlining, and scanning. Moreover, intrapersonal intelligence was found to correlate significantly and positively with the scanning performance.


Abraham, R. G. (1983). Relationship between use of the strategy of monitoring and the cognitive style. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 6(1), 17-32.
Adejumo, D. (1983). Effect of cognitive style on strategies for comprehension of prose. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 56(3), 859-863.
Alexander, P. A., & Jetton, T. L. (1996). The role of importance and interest in the processing of text. Educational Psychology Review, 8(1), 89-121.
Allan, D. (1992). Oxford placement test. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Alptekin, C., & Atakan, S. (1990). Field dependence-independence and hemisphericity as variables in L2 achievement. Second Language Research, 6(2), 135-149.
Altun, A., & Cakan, M. (2006). Undergraduate students’ academic achievements, field dependent/independent cognitive styles and attitude toward computers. Educational Technology and Society, 9(1), 278-297.
Armstrong, T. (1994). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.    
Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Azar, A. (2006). Relationship of multiple intelligence profiles with area of constitution in high school and university entrance exam scores. Educational Administration: Theory & Practice, 46, 157-174.
Bachman, L. (1990). Fundamental considerations in language testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Barrington, E. (2004). Teaching to student diversity in higher education: How multiple intelligence theory can help. Teaching in High Education, 9(4), 421-434.
Bas, G. (2010). Effects of multiple intelligences instruction strategy on students’ achievement levels and attitudes towards English lesson. Cypriot Journal of Educational Sciences, 5, 167-180.
Behnam, B., & Fathi, M. (2009). The relationship between reading performance and field dependence/independence cognitive styles. Journal of Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Literature, 1(1), 49-62.
Berger, E., & Goldberger, L. (1979). Field dependence and short-term memory. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 49(1), 87-96.
Blake, M. (1985). The relationship between field dependence-independence and the comprehension of expository and literary text types. Reading World, 24(4), 53-62.
Blanton, E. L. (2004). The influence of students’ cognitive style on a standard reading test administered in three different formats. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Central Florida, Orlando.
Bongaerts, T., van Summeren, C., Planken, B., & Schils, E. (1997). Age and ultimate attainment in the pronunciation of a foreign language. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19(4), 447-465.
Brown, H. D. (2007). Principles of language learning and teaching (5th ed.). White Plains, New York: Longman.
Campbell, L., Campbell, B., & Dickinson, D. (2004). Teaching and learning through multiple intelligence. Chicago, IL: Merill Company.
Carter, E. F. (1988). The relation of field dependent-independent cognitive style to Spanish language achievement and proficiency: A preliminary report. The Modern Language Journal, 72(1), 21-30.
Cattell, R. B. (1971). Abilities: Their structure, growth, and action. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Celce-Murcia, M., & Larsen-Freeman, D. (1999). Grammar book: An ESL/EFL teacher’s course. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.
Chan, D. W. (2006). Perceived multiple intelligences among male and female Chinese gifted students in Hong Kong: The structure of the student multiple intelligences profile. Gifted Child Quarterly, 50(4), 325-338.
Chapelle, C., & Roberts, C. (1984). Ambiguity tolerance and field independence as predictors of proficiency in English as a second language. Language Learning, 36(1), 27-45.
Chastain, K. (1988). Developing second language skills: Theory to practice. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Checkley, K. (1997). The first seven . . . and the eighth: A conversation with Howard Gardner. Educational Leadership, 55(1), 8-13.
Chen, J. Q., & Gardner, H. (2012). Assessment of intellectual profile: A perspective from multiple-intelligences theory. In D. P. Flanagan & P. L. Harrison (Eds.), Contemporary intellectual assessment: Theories, tests, and issues (pp. 145-155), New York: The Guilford Press.
Chen, S. F. (2005). Cooperative learning, multiple intelligences, and proficiency: Application in college English language teaching and learning. Unpublished master’s thesis, Australian Catholic University.
Christison, M. A. (1996). Teaching and learning languages through multiple intelligence. TESOL Journal, 6(1), 10-14.
Currie, K. L. (2003). Multiple intelligence theory and the ESL classroom preliminary considerations. The Internet TESL Journal, 4(4), 263-270.
Curtin, E. (2005). Instructional styles used by regular classroom teachers while teaching. Forum, 36(2). Retrieved February 14, 2013, from the World Wide Web: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ727798.pdf
Davey, B. (1990). Field dependence-independence and reading comprehension questions: Task and reader interactions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 15(3), 241-250.
Davis, J. K., & Frank, B. M. (1979). Learning and memory of field independent-dependent individuals. Journal of Research in Personality, 13(4), 469-479.
Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Dörnyei, Z. (2009). Individual differences: Interplay of learner characteristics and learning environment. Language Learning, 59(1), 230-248.
Dörnyei, Z., & Skehan, P. (2003). Individual differences in second language learning. In C. J. Doughty & M. H. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 589-630). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Educational Testing Service. (1983). TOEFL test and score manual. Princeton, NJ: ETS.
Eggen, P. D., & Kauchak, D. P. (2012). Educational psychology: Windows on classrooms. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Ehrman, M. E. (1996). Understanding second language difficulties. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Ellis, R. (1985). Understanding second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ellis, R. (1989). Classroom learning styles and their effect on second language acquisition: A study of two learners. System, 17(2), 249-262.
Ellis, R. (2004). Individual differences in second language learning. In A. Davies & C. Elder (Eds.), The handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 525-551). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Gardner, H., & Hatch, T. (1989). Multiple intelligences go to school: Educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Educational Researcher, 18(8), 4-9.
Genesee, F. (1976). The role of intelligence in second language learning. Language Learning, 26(2), 267-280.
Guilford, J. P. (1964). Zero correlations among tests of intellectual abilities. Psychological Bulletin, 61(6), 401-404.
Hajhashemi, K., & Eng, W. B. (2012). MI as a predictor of students’ performance in reading competency. English Language Teaching, 5(3), 240-251.
Haley, M. H. (2001). Understanding learner-centered instruction from the perspective of multiple intelligences. Foreign Language Annals, 34(4), 355-367.
Haley, M. H. (2004). Learner-centered instruction and the theory of multiple intelligences with second language learners. The Teachers College Record, 106(1), 163-180.
Hamayan, E., & Pfleger, M. (1987). Developing literacy in English as a second language: Guidelines for teachers of young children from nonliterate backgrounds. WA: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.
Hansen, J., & Stansfield, C. (1981). The relationship between field dependence-independence cognitive styles to foreign language achievement. Language Learning, 31(2), 349-367.
Hashemi, A. (2007). On the relationship between multiple intelligences and reading comprehension tasks: An authentic MI theory-based assessment. English Language Teaching and Literature. Retrieved May 31, 2014, from the World Wide Web: http://faculty.ksu.edu.sa/aljarf/Documents/English%20Language% 20Teaching%20Confe rence%20-%20Iran%202008/Akram%20Hashemi.pdf
Hite, C. (1993). The relationship of cognitive style and gender of unsuccessful first-time examinees to performance on reading comprehension tasks as measured by a required college examination. (Doctoral dissertation, University of South Florida, 1993). Dissertation Abstracts International, 55, 1231.
Hite, C. E. (2004). Expository content area texts, cognitive style, and gender: Their effects on reading comprehension. Reading Research and Instruction, 43(4), 41-74.
Hoerr, T. R. (2000). Becoming a multiple intelligence school. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Jamieson, A. (1992). The cognitive style of reflection/impulsivity and field independence/dependence and ESL success. The Modern Language Journal, 76(4), 491-501.
Johnson, J., Prior, S., & Artuso, M. (2000). Field dependence as a factor in second language communicative production. Language Learning, 50(3), 529-567.
Jonassen, D. H., & Grabowski, B. L. (2012). Handbook of individual differences, learning, and instruction. Hillsdale, New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Khalili Sabet, M., & Mohammadi, S. (2013). Field independence/dependence styles and reading comprehension abilities of EFL readers. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(11), 2141-2150.
Kim, I. S. (2009). The relevance of multiple intelligences to CALL instruction. The Reading Matrix, 9(1), 1-21.
Kok, I. (2010). The relationship between students’ reading comprehension achievement and their attitudes toward learning English and their abilities to use reading strategies with regard to hemispheric dominance. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 3, 144-151.
Kolb, A. Y., & Kolb, D. A. (2005). Leaning styles and learning spaces: Enhancing experiential learning in higher education. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4(2), 193-212.
Marefat, F. (2007). Multiple intelligences: Voices from an EFL writing class. Pazhuheshe-e Zabanha-ye Khareji, 32,145-162.
McKenzie, W. (1999). Multiple intelligences inventory. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from the World Wide Web: http://surfaquarium.com/MI/inventory.htm
McNaught, S. (1992). An analysis of the relationship between the preferred cognitive style of field independence/ field dependence and success in learning English as a second language among postsecondary Japanese students. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Oregon State University, Corvallis.
Messick, S. (1984). The nature of cognitive styles: Problems and promise in educational practice. Educational Psychologist, 19(2), 59-74.
Moran, S. (2009). Purpose: Giftedness in intrapersonal intelligence. High Ability Studies, 20(2), 143-159.
Mowat, J. G. (2011). The development of intrapersonal intelligence in pupils experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. Educational Psychology in Practice, 27(3), 227-253.
Muir, D. J. (2001, July). Adapting online education to different learning styles. Paper presented at National Educational Computing Conference: Building on the Future, Chicago, IL.              
Ngeow, K. (1999). Classroom practice: Enhancing and extending learning styles through computers. In J. Egbert & E. Hansen-Smith (Eds.), Call environments: Research, practice, and critical issues (pp. 302-314). Alexandria, VA: TESOL.
Nolen, J. L. (2003). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. Education, 124(1), 115-119.
Oflaz, M. (2011). The effect of right and left-brain dominance in language learning. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15, 1507-1513.
Palmberg, R. (2002). Catering for multiple intelligences in EFL course-books. Humanizing Language Teaching, 4(1). Retrieved July 12, 2012, from the World Wide Web: http://www.hltmag.co.uk/jan02/sart6.htm
Pawlak, M. (Ed.). (2012). Second language learning and teaching. New York: Springer.
Pitts, M. M., & Thompson, B. (1984). Cognitive styles as mediating variables in inferential comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 19(4), 426-435.
Rayner, S., & Riding, R. (1997). Towards a categorization of cognitive styles and learning styles. Educational Psychology, 17(1), 5-27.
Razmjoo, S. A. (2008). On the relationship between multiple intelligences and language proficiency. The Reading Matrix, 8(2), 155-174.
Rickards, J. P., Fajen, B. R., Sullivan, J. F., & Gillespie, G. (1997). Signaling, note taking, and field independence-dependence in text comprehension and recall. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(3), 508-517.
Rivers, W. M. (1981). Teaching foreign language skills. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Robinson, J. A., & Bennink, C. D. (1978). Field articulation and working memory. Journal of Research in Personality, 12(4), 439-449.
Robinson, P. (2001). Individual differences, cognitive abilities, aptitude complexes, and learning conditions in second language acquisition. Second Language Research, 17(4), 368-392.
Robinson, P. (2002). Individual differences and instructed language learning. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Rosa, M. H. (1991). Relationships between cognitive styles and reading comprehension of narrative and expository prose of fourth-grade students in an urban school district. (Doctoral dissertation, Wayne State University, 1991). Dissertation Abstracts International, 52, 1275A.
Rosa, M. H. (1994). Relationships between cognitive styles and reading comprehension of expository text of African American male students. The Journal of Negro Education, 63(4), 546-555.
Salmani-Nodoushan, M. A. (2003). Text familiarity, reading tasks, and ESP test performance: A study on Iranian LEP and non-LEP university students. Reading Matrix, 3(1), 1-14.
Salmani-Nodoushan, M. A. (2007). Is field dependence or independence a predictor of EFL reading performance? TESL Canada Journal, 24(2), 82-108.
Saricaoğlu, A., & Arikan, A. (2009). A study of multiple intelligences, foreign language success and some selected variables. Journal of Theory and Practice in Education, 5(2), 110-122.
Shearer, C. B. (1996). Multiple intelligences developmental scales. Dayton, OH: Greyden Press.
Shearer, C. B. (2009). Exploring the relationship between intrapersonal intelligence and university students’ career confusion: Implications for counseling, academic success, and school-to-career transition. Journal of Employment Counseling, 46, 52-61.
Shore, J. R. (2001). An investigation of multiple intelligences and self-efficacy in the university English as a second language classroom. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, George Washington University, Washington, Columbia.
Skehan, P. (1986). The role of foreign language aptitude in a model of school learning. Language Testing, 3(2), 188-221.
Skehan, P. (1989). Individual differences in second language learning. London: Edward Arnold.
Skehan, P. (1991). Individual differences in second language learning. Studies in second language acquisition, 13(2), 275-298.
Skehan, P. (1998). A cognitive approach to language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Smith, E. (2001). Implications of multiple intelligence theory for second language learning. Post-Script, 2(1), 32-52.
Snow, R. E., & Lohman, D. F. (1984). Toward a theory of cognitive aptitude for learning from instruction. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(3), 347-376.
Spearman, C. (1904). “General intelligence,” objectively determined and measured. The American Journal of Psychology, 15(2), 201-292.
Spiro, R. J., & Tirre, W. C. (1980). Individual differences in schema utilization during discourse processing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 72(2), 204-208.
Sternberg, R. J. (1985). Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of human intelligence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Talbot, A. M. (2004). A comparison of a multiple intelligences curriculum and a traditional curriculum on students’ foreign language test performance. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Kalamazoo College, Michigan.
Thurstone, L. L. (1938). Primary mental abilities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Viens, J., & Kallenbach, S. (2004). Multiple intelligence and adult literacy: A source book for practitioners. New York: Teachers College Press.
Wallace, C. (2001). Reading. In D. Nunan & R. Carter (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to teaching English to speakers of other languages (pp. 21-27). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ward, T. J., & Clark III, H. T. (1987). The effect of field dependence and outline condition on learning high and low-structure information from a lecture. Research in Higher Education, 27(3), 259-272.
Witkin, H. A., & Goodenough, D. R. (1977). Field dependence and interpersonal behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 84(4), 661-689.
Witkin, H. A., & Goodenough, D. R. (1981). Cognitive styles: Essence and origins. New York: International Universities Press.
Witkin, H. A., Oltman, P. K., Raskin, E., & Karp, S. A. (1971). A manual for the embedded figures tests. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Xu, W. (2011). Learning styles and their implications in learning and teaching. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 1(4), 413-416.