I am currently exploring research directed toward identifying if Psychological Type preferences affect student success at a research university. My interest is in determining if there is correlation of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) preferences as a gauge of academic success in college. This idea originates from my work as a type practitioner and instructor of a first-year seminar course. Through my annual lectures introducing the MBTI to link personal preferences and learning styles, I quickly detected that my student population was overrepresented in some type preferences in comparison to national samples. Additionally, I found a higher number of students with specific type preferences demonstrating academic difficulty in the first college year.
My personal experience with type is that early in my career, I began to detect interpersonal roadblocks and miscommunication, particularly in the workplace, related to what I later learned were my type preferences. As I further researched type and my own preferences, I began to see opportunities for enabling students to understand more about themselves in the transition to college. As I was already an experienced first-year seminar instructor, I sought academic training to become a type facilitator to add type education in my course. I began administering the introduction to MBTI in my first-year seminar class and to date have assessed the type preferences of more than 700 students in the seminar course during their first semester of college. My goal is to complete a longitudinal study of the academic success and graduation completion of students administered the MBTI in their first year to determine if students with specific type preferences have more academic difficulty in their path to a degree. Ideally, this information will provide early identification for students who may require enhanced programming to meet their academic needs.
Related to this research, I have found type awareness to be extremely helpful in my own relationships, work, and communications. Type has become a touchstone for me, a frame of reference that allows me to dissect and review difficult relationships, expectations, and communications that may occur with others. My knowledge and use of type has been therapeutic in allowing me to recognize that we don’t all interact, process information or produce decisions in similar manners. And our differences make us stronger.
Running an estimate based on the full-time cost of attendance at our university, an in-state resident student invests $53 to attend an hour of class. For non-resident students, the amount increases to $86 an hour. Miss 10% of classes for a semester and a student can easily waste a grand or more.
As a resident of tornado alley, there is a summer tradition of dusting off the Twister DVD while scanning the afternoon skies for possible wall clouds. The film takes place in Oklahoma, but was filmed near my current home in central Iowa. The story follows a team of meteorological students and scientists as they attempt to place weather sensors in the path of a tornado to measure readings inside of the storm. After many failed attempts, injuries, and even fatalities, our protagonists successfully launch the sensors and save humanity. Err, save their research. As the flick can also be caught at least three times a week on cable during the summer, I catch up on all of my favorite lines.
Jo: [cow flies by in the storm) Cow.
[cow flies by in the storm]
Jo: ‘Nother cow.
Bill: Actually, I think it was the same one.
Watching the segment as the sensors rise into the F-5 tornado and begin generating data, I am reminded of our students, particularly those in the first-year. If we could read their minds and extrapolate the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, surely we could develop better methods for student success and retention. Fortunately, there are a variety of assessments to assist in this process.
The College Student Inventory™ (CSI) from Noel-Levitz allows students to answer questions regarding their strengths and challenges before they even arrive on campus. I ask my incoming students to complete this assessment after summer orientation and use the information to frame our beginning of the year 1:1 appointments. The student and advisor reports are handy for discussion and the group summary reports provide great information for planning our first-year seminar course and programming topics.
MAP-Works® offers a similar tool to discover student transition issues early in the semester. Students develop a personal profile based on their initial campus experience that is measured for potential barriers to success. A web-based report is generated immediately for students and faculty or staff advisors that compares with all first-year students on our campus. Campus resource services are suggested where needed.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) helps demonstrate theory that there are distinct patterns to individual psychological types even though persons exhibit these patterns in different ways. Helping students to understand their type preferences and how they affect personal learning styles provides a common ground for understanding differences and the transition to college. I provide an MBTI learning styles assessment for each student in our first-year seminar each fall. Students do not always grasp the type concept, but do find meaning from discussion of the transition to university style learning.
It is common knowledge among student affairs practitioners that students enter the college or university with varying degrees of emotional intelligence. Additionally, those familiar with retention issues will cite non-academic challenges as the frequent impetus for student attrition. Assessing emotional intelligence using the EQ-i® allows students to see potential areas for growth that may enhance adaptation and coping skills leading to academic achievement. I find the EQ-i particularly helpful for students seeking direction in their academic or life plan.
While no assessment tool can foresee every difficulty faced by our students on the path to graduation, I have found these tools to be helpful for communication, planning, and advising. Not a certified MBTI or EQ-i user? Check with your human resources office for recommendations.
Have you tried these assessments? Other tools you suggest?
Like many institutions, my university participates in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to measure programs and activities that enhance student learning and personal development. The purpose of NSSE is to help identify areas to improve the undergraduate experience in and out of the classroom.
The scholarship program that I coordinate hosts a first-year seminar course each fall for the 100 recipients of the award. The course is loosely based on the University 101 model framed by John Gardner when he was at the University of South Carolina. It follows an orientation and transition format and includes community-building activities for our program. We have a large group lecture for one hour each week and students meet in recitation groups of a dozen students for a second hour weekly.
In the NSSE spirit of enhancing the course experience and engaging our students, we try to integrate fun and a bit of technology for student projects. Our latest adventure was digital storytelling. Staff and peer mentors selected random movie genres, and a student from each recitation section drew from the genre options. We shared examples of digital storytelling and creating storyboards. We suggested task assignments such as videographer, actor, writer, and film editing to help the project go more smoothly. We made certain to review campus computer labs for the appropriate editing software in advance and provided this information to students. Finally, we stocked up on sale priced Flip Camcorders and gave this assignment to students:
Create a media project that embodies the transition to college and your first semester experience.
Final Project: No longer than 5 minutes and must include a flash mob.
The final productions were screened during our class “Film Festival” complete with popcorn and soda. Students were encouraged to vote for “Best Picture” and create award categories to fit the projects. Winning productions were featured on our student-run cable news channel.
There were a few bumpy roads throughout the ten-week project, but overall the response and student evaluations of the project assured us that students were engaged and most importantly, community was achieved. On an unexpected side note, our first semester grade point average rose to the highest level in five years, with no change in entering student academic profile. Of course we already look forward to repeating the project with our next student cohort.
Check out the final productions and let me know what you think.
Reflecting on 2009, there is much to celebrate, but many more reasons to be excited for the year ahead.
Adventures in student success and the first-year seminar: I may have mentioned a time or two that I work with the best students in the world. They challenge and inspire me every day of the year. I love my job.
Road trip with 120 students Digital Storytelling Project Blogging Tom Krieglstein
Adventures in Student Affairs: With tight budgets and reduced funding, most of my professional development in 2009 did not cost a cent. I interact daily with wonderful student affairs professionals and treasure their connections.
Found a great list of tools for utilizing Twitter in the classroom this week. Many of these applications would be fun for first-year seminar activities, but I think I may do some investigating for adding a dimension to our peer leadership course.
What is your experience with Twitter in the classroom? Any favorites on this list?