I’ve got a problem. There are aspects of my personality that I can’t control. ~Bruce Banner
Much as student development theory helps us to understand differences in students served in higher education, understanding differences of psychological type in students may also enhance student success. The assessment of psychological type is based upon Carl Jung’s theory that human behavior is not random and that patterns of mental functions exist in the population. Following this conceptual foundation, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI™, has become the most widely used instrument for determining type preferences in business, personal coaching and on college campuses. It was developed by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers with the foundations of orientation and organization to the outer world as a framework to guide individuals through the constructive use of differences. The MBTI instrument asks a series of self-report forced-choice questions to define individual preference opposites for personal energy, taking in information, making decisions, and organizing one’s world. Based upon responses to these questions, an individual is assigned a type preference for each pair of opposites which when combined; create sixteen individual four-letter type codes.
There are four MBTI type dichotomies or opposite preferences and each has a different influence on learning. The word preference is used to refer to the innate tendency one has in each of the psychological dichotomies. The principle of preference is frequently illustrated in type facilitations by asking participants to write their signature with their non-dominant hand. Generally, participants will describe this exercise as awkward, uncomfortable or not a preferred activity, but one they are able to complete. Each individual has a preference for daily functions, but is able to operate out of preference, as needed. The preference pairs include where a person gets their energy, categorized as Extraversion and Introversion; how an individual takes in information or Sensing and Intuiting; the decision-making process of Thinking and Feeling; and the orientation to and organization in the outer world of Judging and Perceiving. Individuals use each aspect of the personality pairs daily, but have a preference for one that is more comfortable or useful to the self.
Extraversion and Introversion. Extraversion and Introversion are expressions of where an individual gathers personal energy. Extraversion (E) is the energy that develops from engaging with people, objects and events. Externally expressing interests and interacting with others is invigorating for extraverts. They learn best in situations that include movement, action and conversation and prefer to connect theories and facts with personal experience. Introversion (I) is a reflective, inward coordination with thoughts and ideas. Introverts look internally for thoughts and energy. They think best in solitude and prefer advance notice before sharing or acting in a learning situation.
Sensing and Intuition. Sensing and Intuition are the functions for absorbing information. The Sensing (S) perception is the process of awareness and accumulating information through the physical senses. Sensing is a pragmatic function relying on details, sequenced lists, and consistency. Sensors learn best with sequential learning from concrete to abstract and tend to excel at memorization. The Intuitive (N) perception is future oriented and uses hunches and sees possibilities to provide explanations. Intuitive preference persons value patterns and abstract ideas and learn through imaginative tasks and theoretical topics with ease.
Thinking and Feeling. Thinking and Feeling are the decision-making or judgment processes of type. Thinking (T) is the objective decision-making process using standards and criteria to analyze information or situations to improve situations or performance. Thinking preference individuals are motivated in learning by logic and respect for their competence. The Feeling (F) decision-making preference is subjective and based upon personal values for accommodating harmony and the improvement of personal conditions for others. Individuals with Feeling preference are motivated in learning by personal encouragement, values and the human dimension of a topic or lesson.
Judging and Perceiving. Judging (J) is the process of engaging with the outer world preferring organization, structure, and a planned life. Those preferring Judgment tend to experience time in specific segments. They are driven to seek closure or finish tasks in those specific time periods. Judging preference learning thrives on task completion, structured learning and specific goals. The Perceiving (P) preference values autonomy, flexibility and spontaneity. They experience time as an uninterrupted flow and are open to new information as they experience and process. They prefer open learning environments that rely less on deadlines and structure.
Psychological type assessment can been helpful in allowing detection of interpersonal roadblocks and miscommunication related to type preferences, particularly for students in the transition from high school to college. Through intentional examination of type and how it relates to learning preferences, opportunities emerge for enabling students to understand more about themselves in this transition. Although the MBTI is not designed to be a predictor, examining type preference anomalies to enhance student services and resources may lead to increased student success and retention.
What is your type? Do you use the MBTI in your student success initiatives?