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Connecting Personality Type to Your Learning

Connecting Personality Type to Your Learning

By Donna Dunning

September is here and you may be thinking of going back to school or learning some new skills outside the classroom. When learning, people prefer to take in and evaluate information their own way. Understanding your personal learning preferences will help make your learning more effective.

This blog explores your personality type preferences for taking in information and making decisions. When given information, some people prefer to focus first on the factual, practical, content (Sensing) while others tend to focus first on ideas and links between pieces of information (INtuition). When evaluating information and giving/receiving feedback, some learners prefer a logical analytical approach (Thinking), while others prefer a more personal, subjective approach (Feeling). Everyone uses Sensing, iNtuition, Thinking, and Feeling when learning, but learning is usually easier and less tiring when we can focus primarily on our preferred approach.

Here are some learning tips and strategies based on personality type preferences to help you maximize your learning.

If you have preferences for Sensing and Thinking (ST)

You are likely a sensible and pragmatic learner looking for logical and practical reasons for learning. Find practical, relevant, factual information that is organized in a logical, step-by-step manner. Focus on learning specific facts and then applying those facts competently to practical situations. If you are learning from someone else, look for an instructor who is competent, experienced, and objective. Ask for real examples and opportunities for hands-on practice. Question and critique, this will help you understand and clarify the information. You likely want clear, corrective feedback and may be impatient with small talk or group work that doesn’t have an obvious connection to what you need to learn.

At times, you may need to learn about theories or models that seem irrelevant. In these cases, link the ideas to what you know from your experiences. Relate ambiguous, subjective or abstract information logically to your current situation and realities. There may be times when you can’t memorize all the required content. In these cases, find and memorize the general ideas and patterns behind the facts. You may critique and judge teachers quickly. Try to learn something from everyone. Practice using diplomacy when questioning and critiquing; if you don’t others may personalize or misunderstand your comments.

If you have preferences for Sensing and Feeling (SF)

You are likely a down-to-earth and amiable learner who seeks practical information to make things better for yourself and others. You want to learn personally relevant facts that are presented in a clear, step-by-step manner. Memorize specific facts and then find ways to use what you are learning to meet people’s needs. Opportunities to practice, real life stories, and personal examples help you apply what you are learning. Find a supportive teacher or coach who takes a personal interest in your learning. If you are learning outside of the classroom, find a friend or colleague who supports and encourages your learning. You seek positive feedback and want corrective feedback to be given gently. Try to avoid learning situations where teachers or classmates are overly competitive, impersonal, or critical.

When you need to learn about theories and models, link the ideas to your personal experiences and think of ways to apply the ideas to your current situation. When there is a lot of information to retain, look for categories and patterns. Use these categories and patterns to help you remember what you need to know. There will be times when you will be in a learning environment that is not highly supportive. Be open to accepting frank, corrective feedback. Corrective feedback and logical analysis can be powerful learning tools to help you identify errors and clarify information.

If you have preferences for iNtuition and Thinking (NT)

You likely are a self-reliant, independent learner who evaluates and integrates concepts in an objective, logical manner. Focus on learning complex theoretical information that you can use to link ideas and concepts to broad applications and strategies. You will be convinced by information from objective, accurate, credible sources and by instructors who are competent subject area experts. Debate, question, and critique what is known to clarify and develop ideas. Seek well-thought-out, discerning, corrective feedback.

At times you will need to focus on and logically order relevant facts, concrete details, practical steps, and current realities. Attending to these realities will be necessary to ground theories and help you find realistic applications for learning. Use diplomacy when questioning and critiquing, since others may personalize or misunderstand your comments. Accept and learn from positive feedback rather than minimizing its importance. Don’t judge your teachers too quickly; you can learn something from everyone.

If you have preferences for iNtuition and Feeling (NF)

You likely are a collaborative and cooperative learner who integrates and understands concepts within the context of your personal values. Linking ideas and concepts to possibilities for developing yourself or others is often a motivation for learning. You like to learn collaboratively and want others to encourage you to share and integrate ideas and concepts in a supportive environment. You like to learn about alternative perspectives, show empathy, and find common ground. Authentic encouragement and positive feedback help you learn.

At times you may benefit from focusing on and evaluating the relative importance of specific facts, details and practical steps. Attending to current realities will ground your theories and ideas and help you understand a situation more thoroughly. Learn to appreciate and use objective facts and logical analysis when learning. For example, analyzing differences between alternative perspectives and agreeing to disagree at times can facilitate learning. You may need to learn to view corrective feedback objectively and focus on learning from it rather than personalizing it.

No matter what your personality type preferences are, it is always a good idea to engage your senses when learning. I took this picture while we were on a trip through the Alberta, Canada, Rocky Mountains this summer. How elk use their senses to learn about and adapt to their environment is a good analogy for human learning. When only one sense is engaged, an elk becomes alert, but doesn’t act. The elk responds when more than one sense is activated and the situation is fully understood. For example, if an elk sees you it will be interested but not concerned, and then try to smell you, wanting to confirm with its nose what it perceives with its eyes. I think the same is true for humans. If you engage multiple senses when learning, information will be confirmed and more easily remembered.

Information adapted from Introduction to Type® and Learning

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 at 8:56 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Connecting Personality Type to Your Learning”

  1. AnneAmanda says:

    This is wonderful. I read the second paragraph of this blog, and I suddenly understood something that had been puzzling me about why my mother’s teaching style just doesn’t work with my learning style. She is teaching me programming, and while I love it, sometimes I simply don’t get what she’s talking about. It’s not because programming is hard but because she’s teaching like an S, and I’m learning like an I. I think she’s an ESTJ, and I’m an INFJ/INTJ.

  2. Donna Dunning says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article AnneAmanda. The E/I differences can certainly make learning more challenging at times. I find computer programming is sequential and, having an N preference myself, I often struggle with step-by-step procedures. My strategy is to write the steps down because I forget the order if I don’t. To best learn using your INJ preferences, reflect first on the overall structure and purpose of what you are programming, then attend to the details.

  3. AnneAmanda says:

    Yes, that’s exactly it. She likes to leap directly into the details and let the overall picture reveal itself as she works, but that just confuses me. Once I understand what the point is, then the details make sense.

  4. Donna Dunning says:

    I hear you. My ISTJ son and I (ENFP) have discussed these learning differences. He builds main ideas from the facts and I “hang” the facts on the main ideas. When I don’t have an overview I don’t know where the facts fit. It’s great to learn about and appreciate these learning differences.

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