Type, Worldview and Academic Success

Dilbert January 25, 2000

Dilbert January 25, 2000

This overview of research paradigms assembled by Laura Pasquini inspired me to share my own postpositivist worldview and the research shaping it. As a postpositivist, I search for context and believe that causes determine outcomes. Thus, when type assessments collected in my first-year seminar showed trends for population oversampling and type preferences relating to academic success, or the lack thereof, I had to do more digging.

Academic success in the first college semester is widely believed to affect the eventual success or graduation of the new college student.  The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® is not an identifier of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles but is beneficial for assessment of learning preferences and processes rather than the learning behaviors of most learning style inventories (Jensen, 2003).  Jensen describes the MBTI® as the most comprehensive assessment of learning style assessments attributing to instrument norming, length of development time, and sixteen specific approaches to student learning.  He asserts that as the MBTI is a personality type assessment, and type is generally static, it is more useful than learning style assessments for measuring student behavior or performance which may fluctuate, dependent upon the learning experience.  As institution type and instructor type preferences can frequently differ from student type preferences, an understanding of type theory can assist educators and learners in goals of student success.

As students move toward campus integration they seek congruence and comfort in a campus culture.  Type theory and the MBTI can be helpful in moving students toward this goal.  Kalsbeek (1986, 2003) reported on the TRAILS tracking tool that aids university communities in reviewing MBTI data in comparison with available student data to provide a research base for retention strategies.  Students at a medium-size private university were administered the MBTI and consented to having their scores merged with ACT/SAT scores and other entry and demographic data sources.  Academic results, program of study and enrollment status of the students were tracked in subsequent semesters.  The tracking research found ACT/SAT scores as the best predictor of academic performance in the first semester but also revealed that Myers-Briggs preferences for Introversion, Perception and Intuition were found to be statistically significant in their influence on first semester grades.  Type data was also found to correlate with entering student profiles as to reasons for attending college, performance on college admission standardized tests and first-term academic achievement.  Each of these correlations is helpful to campus retention efforts by explaining possible shifts in college entry data and academic success.  As failure to find academic success is a major factor in student persistence, Kalsbeek (2003) emphasizes that the MBTI instrument is useful for academic success programs.  It can be used to identify special challenges for students, as a method for responding to students in need of academic support, and for “facilitating a good educational fit between the learner and the instructor,” (p. 109).

Jensen, G. H. (2003).  Learning styles. In J. A. Provost & S. Anchors (Eds.), Using the MBTI instrument in colleges and universities.  Gainesville, FL: Center for Applications of Psychological Type.

Kalsbeek, D. H. (1986, June).  Linking learning style theory with retention research: The TRAILS project. Paper presented at the Association for Institutional Research forum, Orlando FL.

Kalsbeek, D. H. (2003).  Campus retention: The MBTI instrument in institutional self-studies.  In J. A. Provost & S. Anchors (Eds.), Using the MBTI instrument in colleges and universities (pp. 87-122).  Gainesville, FL: Center for Applications of Psychological Type.

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