Students have different learning styles; they preferentially focus on different types of information, tend to operate on perceived information in different ways, and achieve understanding at different rates. The match or mismatch between the way that professors teach and the way that students learn has important ramifications for levels of student satisfaction in college. Students whose learning styles are compatible with the teaching styles of a course instructor tend to retain information longer, apply it more effectively, learn more, and have a more positive attitude toward the course and college in general.
Students whose learning styles are compatible with the teaching styles of a course instructor tend to retain information longer, apply it more effectively, learn more, and have a more positive attitude toward the course and college in general.
As a student, you will encounter different teaching styles. Although you cannot change your preferred style of learning to match a teaching style, you can take steps to actively increase your ability to be successful in these courses.
The results obtained from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicatorpersonality_types_and_learning (MBTI) can help you understand how to be more successful in the classroom and beyond. This MBTI explains personality types in greater depth, which can be useful in developing strategies for more effective study, better time management, smoother communications, more successful relationships, selecting courses and majors, and developing our less-preferred ways of learning.
The following overview of the personality traits of the eight types developed by the MBTI can help you understand the differences in each type. Implications in the classroom and ideal classroom environments are presented.
The eight traits from the MBTI are arranged in four continuums or preference scales:
|Extravert (E)||…..||Introvert (I)|
|Sensing (S)||…..||Intuitive (N)|
|Thinking (T)||…..||Feeling (F)|
|Perceiving (P)||…..||Judging (J)|
There is no right or wrong to these preferences – each identifies normal human behaviors and characteristics.
Extravert - Introvert (E-I)
This scale explains where people tend to focus their attention and get their energy.
Extraverts (E) tend to focus on the outer world of people, things, and activity and are energized by interaction with others. They love to talk, participate, organize, and socialize. They are people of action and therefore can be impatient with slow, tedious jobs and complicated procedures. They prefer to figure out things while they are talking.
Extraverted Types (Es) and Learning: Extraverted types learn best by talking and physically engaging the environment. Talking helps their thoughts to form and become clear. Their attention will naturally flow towards external things and events.
Extraverted Types in the Classroom: Extraverted students work best in classrooms that allow time for discussion, talking and/or working with a group. Since they are action oriented, Es do well with activities involving some type of physical activity. As they are pulled into social life, they may find it difficult to settle down, read, or concentrate on homework. They sometimes find listening difficult and need to talk to work out their ideas.
They will find many college tasks challenging (reading, research, writing) because they are solitary endeavors. They tend to plunge into new material, as their tendency is to act first and think later. They need to work to avoid distractions while studying. They do well studying with a friend. Extraverts will learn best if they study as if they are preparing to teach someone else.
Ideal Classroom Environments For Extraverts: Extraverts thrive when they are allowed time to think things through by talking, such as in classroom discussions, or when working with another student. They excel with learning activities that have visible results and involve people interaction.
Introverts (I) are energized by the inner world of reflection, thought, and contemplation. They direct their energy and attention inward and receive energy from reflecting on their thoughts, memories and feelings. They can be sociable but need space and time alone to recharge their batteries. Introverts want to understand the world. They prefer to figure out things before they talk about them.
Introverted Types (Is) and Learning: Introverts learn best through quiet, mental reflection. Their attention will naturally flow inward to their own thoughts, ideas and impressions.
Introverted Types in the Classroom: Introverted students tend to enjoy reading, lectures, and written over oral work. They prefer to work independently, do well at verbal reasoning, and need time for internal processing. They enjoy listening to others talk about a topic while privately processing the information. Introverts may encounter difficulty with instructors who speak quickly without allowing time for mental processing. They are often uncomfortable in discussion groups, may find it difficult to remember names, and hesitate to speak up in class.
Ideal Classroom Environments For Introverts: Introverts excel when they can work independently with their own thoughts, through listening, observing, reading, writing, and independent lab work. They need sufficient time to complete their work and to think before answering a question. They need instructors to allow a moment of silence, if necessary, for this thought process and to process their experiences at their own pace. They are more comfortable if they are not required to speak in class but are allowed to voluntarily contribute.
This scale suggests how people take in information and ways that they become aware of things, people, events, or ideas. It has the biggest impact on how people learn.
Sensing (S) people rely heavily on their five senses to take in information. They take in information that is real and tangible – what is actually happening. They are observant about the specifics of what is going on around them and are especially attuned to practical realities, and therefore they are practical and realistic. They focus on details and may ignore the big picture. They tend to be literal in their words and would rather do than think.
Sensing Types (Ss) in the Classroom: Sensing types like concrete facts, organization, and structure. They are good at memorization and are relatively conventional. They like to go step by step and are best at tasks that call for carefulness, observing specifics, and have a practical interest. They feel more comfortable using skills already learned than learning new ones and become easily frustrated and impatient with complicated situations.
Ss are oriented toward the present, the concrete, and the here and now. They understand ideas and theories through practical applications. They need to start with the familiar, solid facts before they can gradually move toward abstract concepts and principles. Sensing students like outlines, clear guidelines, and specifics. They ask who, what, when, where? Sensing students read the question several times before answering it to be certain they understand it. They might ignore the big picture and overlook general meanings and implications. They often have difficulty with theory.
Ideal Classroom Environments For Sensing Types: Sensing types are best with instruction that allows them to use their senses – to hear, touch and see what they are learning. They enjoy hands-on activities, computer-assisted instructions, materials that can be handled, and audio-visual materials, provided they are relevant. They may have difficulty with instructors who move through the material too quickly or jump around from thought to thought. They learn best when material is tied in with “real life” situations. Sensing types will learn easier if facts and skills presented have relevance to their present lives. They want teachers to make it clear exactly what is expected out of them. They are best able to create possibilities if a foundation of facts and the concrete is presented first.
Intuitive (N) people seek out patterns and relationships among the facts they have gathered. They trust their hunches and intuition and look for the “big picture.” Their focus is on conceptual information. Since they see the big picture, they often ignore the details. They strive to grasp patterns and are attuned to seeing new possibilities. Their focus is on the future. They would rather think than do.
Intuitive Types (Ns) in the Classroom: Intuitive types want to know the theory before deciding that facts are important, focusing on general concepts more than details and practical matters. They quickly see associations and meanings, relying more on insight than observation. They are creative, innovative and work with bursts of energy. They desire only a general outline, and enjoy new material. They are best with tasks that appeal to their intellectual interests and call for grasping general concepts, seeing relationships, and using imagination. They can remember specifics when they relate to a pattern.
Ns will write their term paper and then finish the required outline. They will always ask “why” before anything else. They want to clarify ideas and theories before putting them into practice. Intuitive students may not read a test question all the way through, sometimes missing a key part, because they act on their hunches. Once they understand a concept or skill, they may find continued repetition or practice boring. They might become frustrated with instructors who pace the material too slowly for them. They tend to anticipate a speaker’s words, which sometimes results in Ns not really hearing what is being said.
Ideal Classroom Environments for Intuitive Types: Intuitive students thrive when they have opportunities to be inventive and original and to find ways to solve problems. They want choices in the ways they work out their assignments. They do well with opportunities for self-instruction, both individually and with a group.
This scale explains the ways people evaluate and come to conclusions about information and how they make decisions.
Thinking (T) people look at the logical consequences of a choice or action and decide on the basis of logic, analysis, and reason. They critique and analyze to identify what’s wrong with something so they can solve the problem. They strive to find a standard or principle that will apply in similar situations. They follow their head rather than their heart, value truth over tact, and sometimes appear blunt and uncaring about the feelings of others. Ts usually have strongly held principles, value fairness over everything, and need purpose.
Thinking (Ts) Types in the Classroom: Thinking types use logical analysis to understand material. They analyze experiences and material to find logical principles underlying them, and they analyze problems to bring logical order out of confusion. They naturally critique things, making them good at problem solving when they can analyze to identify what’s wrong with something. They focus on tasks and do best with objective material to study and enjoy going into depth. They strive to get a sense of mastery over the material being studied. They may have difficulty with instructors who do not present material in a logical order. They like clear course and topic objectives that are precise and action-oriented. Accuracy is important to Ts.
Ideal Classroom Environments for Thinking Types: Thinking students will understand best when material is presented in a logical, orderly fashion. When dealing with the abstract, they need to have the logic in the material pointed out. They enjoy instructor and student feedback that shows them their specific, objective achievements. They expect all students to be treated fairly and objectively by instructors, with respect.
Feeling (F) people, when making decisions, like to consider what is important to them and to others involved. Appreciating and supporting others and looking for qualities to praise energizes them. They strive to create harmony and treat each person as a unique individual. They decide on the basis of their feelings, personal likes and dislikes. They want others to like them so find it difficult to say no or disagree with others. Fs need and value kindness and harmony and are distressed by interpersonal friction. They feel rewarded when they can help others.
Feeling Types (Fs) in the Classroom: Feeling types look for a personal connection in classroom material, seeking to relate ideas and concepts to personal experiences. They enjoy working in groups as long as individual relationships develop. They learn well by helping others and responding to their needs, and they study well with others. Fs do best with topics of study they care about and might have difficulty with topics that do not relate to people or relationships. They need to develop a personal rapport with the instructor and receive feedback and encouragement. They may have difficulty with instructors who appear impersonal or detached.
Ideal Classroom Environments for Feeling Types: Feeling students will work harder when they have developed personal relationships with their instructors and other students. They need specific, positive feedback with corrective instructions from their instructors, and they want instructors to also show appreciation for students. They understand best when they can see the relationship of the material to people and/or human values.
This range suggests the type of life style and work habits people prefer.
Judging (J) people like to live in a planned, orderly way, seeking to regulate and manage their lives. They want to make decisions, come to closure, and move on. They tend to be structured and organized and like to have things settled. Getting things done energizes them. They focus on completing the task, only want to know the essentials, and take action quickly (sometimes too quickly).
Judging Types (Js) in the Classroom: Judging types plan their work and stick to the plan, often getting work done early. They do well with formalized instruction and defined tasks. They meet deadlines, like planning, and prefer to work on only one thing at a time. They avoid last-minute stresses and don’t work well under last-minute pressure. They dislike surprises and thrive on order. They want to know what they are accountable for and by what standards they will be graded. They treat assignments seriously.
Ideal Classroom Environments for Judging Types: Judging students will thrive with structure, clear instructions and consistency. A clear, detailed outline with specific grading procedures is desirable. They do best with advanced plans without surprises. They expect their instructors to follow their outlines and return assignments when they say they will.
Perceiving (P) types are spontaneous and don’t like to be boxed in by deadlines or plans. They like to postpone action and seek more data, gathering more information before making a decision. Detailed plans and final decisions feel confining to them; they prefer to stay open to new information and last-minute options. They work at many things at once. Ps are flexible and often good in emergencies when plans are disrupted.
Perceiving (Ps) types in the classroom: Perceiving types start many tasks, want to know everything about each task, and often find it difficult to complete them. They work in flexible ways, following impulses. They are stimulated by the new and different. They study best when surges of impulsive energy come to them. They are good at informal problem solving and adept at managing arising problems. Their biggest problem is procrastination. They may make a calendar of things to do but often won’t follow it. Ps feel energized by last-minute pressures and often do their best work under pressure. They need to find novel ways to do routine assignments to increase their interest. They thrive on spontaneity and don’t mind surprises. When completing a lengthy assignment or project, they will work best if they divide the work into several sub-assignments.
Ideal Classroom Environments for Perceiving Types:
Perceiving students like some choices in aspects of assignments. They work best when they understand the reasons for assignments and when assignments make sense to them. They enjoy variety and spontaneity.
Implications in the Classroom
Understanding your personality type, preferred ways of learning, and ideal classroom environment can help you effectively deal with classroom situations that don’t necessarily match your preferred style.
You are encouraged to talk with your instructors to determine ways you can have your needs met and excel in the classroom at WNC. WNC counselors can also assist you with methods to improve your learning in these situations. Further tips and suggestions can be found by linking to Temperament.