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Teaching to Student Personality Types

Mar 03, 2011

OnHand Schools is proud of the knowledgeable people that make up the OnHand Schools Team. Starting this week, we will be featuring an “Insight” from a selected staff member that will focus around various areas of education. This week our featured blogger is Toby Basalla. Toby has over 10 years of experience in building web based data integration solutions and is the current director of development for OnHand Schools as well as a founder. Toby is the former director of development for Pittsburgh Public Schools, a large urban K-12 district.

Starting next week look for a special five part series from Dr. Stefan Biancaniello in which he will be sharing his perspective on data driven instruction.

There are many different theories of personality and ways of categorizing personality types. One of the most popular theories is based off the Myers-Briggs system in which people are divided by personalities based on their preferred ways of dealing with the world. These categories can be useful in classroom management – students respond to classroom instruction differently depending on these preferences:

Introversion vs. Extroversion:

Introvert students often prefer to work alone and to be able to have time to think through a question before responding verbally. In contrast, Extrovert students respond better to group work and tend to think out loud. A balance of class time between private activity and group response allows teachers to include both types of students.

Intuition vs. Sensing:

Sensing students tend to focus on specific, concrete details – colors, shapes, dates, facts, numbers. In contrast, Intuitive students focus on “the big picture” and theory. In the teaching of biology, for example, sensors tend to like to know the specifics of anatomy, detailed names of bones and tissues. Intuitives, by contrast, tend to like theories that explain many details, like homeostasis or evolution. Sensing students tend to be bored or disengaged by a classroom approach that is too theoretical, and intuitive often tune out of lectures that are focused too much on very specific details.

Thinking vs. Feeling:

Thinking students often prefer to apply their knowledge impartially, formulating rules for situations and applying those rules regardless of the specific situations or people involved. Feeling students, in contrast, tend to be more motivated by group cohesion and the impact of rules on specific people. Thinking students often tend to prefer “fairness” and impartiality in class requirements and expectations, while feeling students prefer to have their intentions and motivation taken into account in the application of class rules.

Perceiving vs. Judging:

Perceiving students tend to keep life “open-ended” – deadlines are flexible, they prefer to take in more information and defer decision and action until they feel like they’ve “learned enough” and often employ interesting interpretations of class assignments. In contrast, Judging students prefer hard deadlines, schedules, and doing things “the right way.” Often Perceiving students thrive in open-ended learning environments based on exploration and curiosity, while Judging students function best in classrooms where there are clear rules, schedules, and deadlines.

The interactions of these personality preferences have a lot to do with how particular students respond in a classroom environment. Often teachers have the most “difficulty” with students whose preferences are directly opposite their own. In these cases it is helpful for the teacher to think about ways that material or classroom experience can be modified to accommodate students of all personalities.

To learn more about Myers-Briggs personality types, please visit http://www.myersbriggs.org/

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