Teaching to Personality Type (Part 1)

The inspiration for this month’s post comes from teaching at a local community college.

How would you go about hooking up your new universal remote control? Would you read the instruction manual, ask someone to explain how it works, or learn through trial and error?  What would you like to know about your new gadget –why the wires connect to the stereo components the way they do, the best way to maximize functionality, or how the different features control your TV and stereo settings?

These are important questions to ponder, because they give clues to your preferred learning style. And it’s important to know how you like to learn, because we often teach others in the style that we like to learn.  So while you may never have to teach someone how to use a universal remote control, there are many instances when you will need to present information in an understandable, useful manner.

People take in and process information in different ways: by listening and observing, analyzing and intuiting, discussing and doing. Knowing your own preferred ways of acquiring new information can help you reach learners and maximize your teaching effectiveness.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) is a great tool for familiarizing yourself with different learning styles. You can use what you know about the MBTI® type preferences to impart information in a meaningful way.  Here’s a peek into how different personality types like to learn.

If you have a preference for….

Extraversion (E) you learn best by talking things through, and feel energized when working or interacting with others

Introversion (I) you learn best by listening, and taking time to ‘process’ and reflect on information

Sensing (S) you learn best by connecting information to actual experience, and exploring how theories can be practically applied in everyday life

Intuition (I) you learn best by connecting abstract thoughts and theoretical possibilities, and contemplating the future potential of ideas

Thinking (T) you learn best by understanding the logic behind new ideas, and by analyzing the relationships between cause and effect

Feeling (F) you learn best in a supportive environment, and use value-based reasoning to put information into perspective

Judging (J) you learn best in an organized, structured environment, and like to be clear on expectations and assignments

Perceiving (P) you learn best in a flexible environment, and are open to last minute changes and the ‘last minute rush’

In reviewing this list, you probably identify with more than one preference.  This is quite common, as most people will share characteristics with many or all of the MBTI® preferences. You will have some degree of success in creating effective learning experiences by tailoring your teaching strategy to even just a few of these preferences. But remember: the more preferences you can incorporate the greater potential for reaching your target audience and maximizing the learning experience for all your learners.

Read Part 2 of this 2-part article for a glimpse into how I implemented these ideas in the classroom, and you can too!