Cognitive style refers to the way a person thinks and processes information. Many of the most useful models of cognitive style place learners on a bi-polar scale. These include field dependence - independence, convergent-divergent, and holist-serialist. Cognitive style can be compared with cognitive ability, which refers to how good a person is at thinking and processing information.
In the field dependence - independence model some learners are better at distinguishing information and separating it from the information around it.
In the classroom
Learners can be encouraged to think about their cognitive style and how it affects their learning by trying a quiz to identify their preferences. If they understand how they prefer to think then they can learn how to optimise their work in the classroom, and also try alternative ways.