As we have explored throughout our ‘Learning Styles’ series, there are many different learning modes, all of which stem from different theories: experiential models; sensory models, like the VARK theory; and cognitive approaches. There are even learning styles that find their roots in psychology.
The Myers-Briggs theory, for example, argues that personality type has a significant impact on how an individual learns. Drawing on Jung’s personality theory, at the heart of the Myers-Briggs approach is a distinction between an extravert and introvert personality. Extraverts are outward thinking, whereas introverts are concerned with their inner life; as such, it follows that an extravert’s general interest is directed towards externally-focused activities, whereas an introvert is more contained and will tend to direct their attention inwards.
There are also several other broad categories: intuition; sensing; feeling; thinking; judging; perceiving. These can be combined to create 16 different learning styles. One student might be an EITP, for instance (extravert, intuitor, thinker, judger) whilst another might be ISFP (introvert, sensor, feeler, perceiver). Here is a broad overview of how each ‘type’ might best learn in a university setting:
Extraverts learn best when:
- They are able to work in groups.
- They are involved in classes with teachers who promote group discussion.
- They are allowed to work in an environment with ambient noise (extraverts do not respond well to complete silence).
Introverts learn best when:
- They are able to work in solitude.
- They can prioritise reading-based study, and are able to work in silence.
- They are involved in classes with teachers who deliver information clearly (through lectures or presentations).
- They are given plenty of time to evaluate and question their own thinking.
Sensors learn best when:
- They are able to prioritise memory-based learning (such as committing facts to heart).
- They are involved in classes with teachers who deliver information in an instructive manner.
- They are able to trust material as presented, without needing to probe further.
Intuitors learn best when:
- They are given the opportunity to probe materials and go beyond what is stated.
- They are allowed to demonstrate originality and flair.
- They are encouraged to read around the subject and draw on secondary material to gain perspective.
- They are involved in classes with teachers who encourage independent thinking.
Thinkers learn best when:
- They are presented with new and original academic ideas to assess.
- They are involved in classes with teachers who promote lively debate.
- They are allowed to prioritise logic and objectivity.
Feelers learn best when:
- They can relate to academic material on a personal level.
- They are involved in classes with teachers who develop a personal rapport with students.
- They receive plenty of feedback on their work and contributions to class.
- They receive plenty of personal support in terms of their learning and progress.
Judgers learn best when:
- They are able to plan their work well in advance.
- They are involved in classes with teachers who are well organised and promote a clear plan of learning.
- They are given clearly-defined goals to work towards.
- They are encouraged to problem solve in a formal, structured manner.
Perceivers learn best when:
- They are able to work spontaneously.
- They are not given too many strict deadlines.
- They are involved in classes with inspiring, energetic teachers.
- They are not allowed to settle into a routine; instead, perceivers prefer to be surprised by course materials and enjoy adapting to unexpected changes.
- They are encouraged to problem solve in a formal, structured manner (like judgers).
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