How Personality Affects Learning
Source: Top10OnlineColleges.org

Education is broken.
School doesn’t work.

The US is falling behind.

●    Literacy Rates:
○    2009: 1 in 3 students scored “below basic” on the NAEP Reading Test (National Assessment of Education Progress
■    49% of the students who scored “below basic” were from low-income families
■    more than 67% of all US fourth graders scored “below proficient”
●    they were not reading at grade level
○    26% of eighth graders and 27% of twelfth graders scored below “basic” level
○    32% eighth graders and 38% twelfth graders were at or above grade level

(assessment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)
●    Math and Science:
○    15-year-olds in the U.S. ranked 25th (out of 30 countries) in math performance
○    15-year-olds in the U.S. ranked 21st (out of 30 countries) in science performance
●    American 12th graders ranked 19th out of 21 industrialized countries in math achievement
○    they ranked 16th out of 21 in science
○    they ranked last (21st) out of 21 in advanced physics
●    since 1983, more than 10 million Americans reached twelfth grade without knowing how to read at a basic level
○    more than 20 million reached twelfth grade without being able to do basic math
●    Some things to consider:
○    Many students are not well-suited to wrote memorization
○    Memorization is favored by US public schools
○    An innovative/flexible approach to teaching would encompass more than one learning style

Different types of learning:
●    Visual (spatial): prefer using pictures, images, spatial understanding
●    Aural (auditory-musical): prefer using music and sounds
●    Verbal (linguistic): prefer using words, in writing and speech
●    Logical (mathematical): prefer using systems, logic, and reasoning
●    Physical (kinesthetic): prefer using sense of touch, hands, body
●    Social (interpersonal): prefer to learn with other people or in groups
●    Solitary (intrapersonal): prefer to use self-study and work alone

Each learning style uses different parts of the brain
○    left hemisphere:
■    speech
■    attention to details
■    writing, reading
■    verbal memory, verbal thinking
■    processes information in a linear manner
○    right hemisphere:
■    processing and storage of visual, tactile, musical, and spatial information
■    handles complex non-verbal material
●    intuition, perceptiveness, inspirational hunches, emotional processing

Personality heavily influences learning style:
Collaborative learning isn’t for everyone:
●    classrooms are typically situated for extroverts
●    extroverts thrive working in collaborative groups and during class discussions
○    comfortable with public speaking and presentations
●    introverts prefer quiet (as opposed to classroom noise and being bombarded with stimuli)
○    prefer working on individual projects
○    independent thinking

Differences in basic personality affect our preferences for acquiring and integrating information
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
An assessment that divides and defines personality types
•    developed mid-20th century based on four preferences
•    Type of data provided based on four preferences:
◦    1. Extroversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
•    how you direct your energy and relate to the world around you
▪    E: action oriented; energized by other people and things
▪    I: reflective thinker; energized by their inner world of ideas, abstractions, concepts
•    83% college student leaders are extraverts
•    65%  Phi Beta Kappa members are introverts
◦    PBK=upperclassmen with highest GPAs
◦    2. Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
•    how you take in information from the environment
▪    S: detail oriented, trust and rely on facts
▪    N: seek patterns and relationships; trust hunches; look for the ‘big picture’
•    almost 83% national merit scholarship finalists are N
•    92% Rhodes scholars are N
◦    3. Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
•    how you make decisions
▪    T: value fairness; focus on situation’s logic; use objective criteria
▪    F:  focus on human needs and values; value harmony; good at persuasion
◦    4. Judging (J) vs. Perceptive (P)
•    how you orient yourself with/to the outside world
▪    J: decisive, self-motivated, plan ahead, adhere to deadlines
▪    P: adaptable, curious, spontaneous; difficulty finishing a task; ignore deadlines
●    Combined preferences indicate the Myers-Briggs personality type

There are 16 different MBTI types and each type has a distinct preferred learning style:

16 personality types:
•    ISTJ: Guardian: practical, logical, dependable
◦    famous ISTJs: Warren Buffett, J.D. Rockefeller
•    ISTP: Craftsman: reserved, analyze with detached curiosity; logical
◦    famous ISTPs: Michael Jordan, Amelia Earhart
•    ISFJ: Defender: responsible, friendly, conscientious
◦    famous ISFJs: Mother Teresa, Clara Barton
•    ISFP: Composer: sensitive, kind, modest
◦    famous ISFPs: Steven Spielberg, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
•    INFJ: Protector: firm principles; quietly forceful; serve the common good
◦    famous INFJs: Mohandas Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt
•    INFP: Dreamer: enthusiastic and loyal; care about ideas, language, and independent projects
◦    famous INFPs: George Orwell, Princess Diana
•    INTJ: Strategist: driven by their own ideas/purposes; skeptical, determined, critical
◦    famous INTJs: Alan Greenspan, Hillary Clinton
•    INTP: Thinker: quiet, reserved; enjoy scientific and theoretical pursuits; solve problems with analysis and logic
◦    famous INTPs: Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Abraham Lincoln
•    ESTP: Persuader: adaptable, tolerant, dislike long explanations; do best working with real things
◦    famous ESTPs: Winston Churchill, Donald Trump
•    ESTJ: Overseer: practical, matter of fact, realistic; run/organize activities
◦    famous ESTJs: George Washington, VInce Lombardi
•    ESFP: Entertainer: easygoing, memorizing facts; common sense, people skills
◦    famous ESFPs: Elvis Presley, Ronald Reagan, Judy Garland
•    ESFJ: Caregiver: talkative, cooperative, work best with praise and encouragement; interested in things that have direct and practical help in others’ lives
◦    famous ESFJs: Barbara Walters, Ray Kroc, Martha Stewart
•    ENFP: Advocate: enthusiastic, imaginative; always willing/ready to help anyone; good at improvising
◦    famous ENFPs: Bill Clinton, Mark Twain
•    ENFJ: Giver: responsible, sociable; responsive to praise and/or criticism; sympathetic, tactful
◦    famous ENFJs: Oprah Winfrey, Ralph Nader, Martin Luther King, Jr.
•    ENTP: Originator: outspoken, resourceful, good at using logic to validate their rationale, change interests in rapid succession
◦    famous ENTPS: Walt Disney, Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla
•    ENTJ: Executive: decisive leader, frank, excel at logical reasoning, well-informed
◦    famous ENTJs: Carl Sagan, Margaret Thatcher

CTA: Different personality types utilize different learning styles; sensitivity to these differences would help students succeed.

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One Response to One Style Does Not Fit All: How Personality Differences Affect Learning

  1. Emily says:

    This was very thought-provoking. As a third grade teacher, the fact that “since 1983, more than 10 million Americans reached twelfth grade without knowing how to read at a basic level” was an eye-opener. On one side, I can’t fathom how educators, like myself, let students get so far in school without being proficient readers. On the other side, I have students who have entered my classroom this year reading on a kindergarten or first grade level without any identified learning disabilities. It upsets me that teachers or administrators have let these students get to third grade without an explanation, or without retention in hopes that another year in kindergarten, first, or second grade would get them on the right path.
    The personality differences also stood out to me, as the push in my building has been cooperative learning. Some students are just not made to work together and thrive working independently. Although I know we are ultimately preparing them for the workforce, we have to remember how students’ personalities, and learning styles, differ.