What is Your Learning Type?

What do those letters mean, anyway? 

Jung originally created 3 classifications that would describe how people acted in society. 

Briggs and Myers added two more classifications much later and this new classification scheme is called the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)

Direction of energy or interest

E = extroversion relates to the outer world of people 

I = introversion relates to inner world of ideas and actions 

This is basically how you orient yourself to life


Extrovert Introvert 

likes people prefers quiet for concentration 

likes action likes ideas and concepts 

acts quickly has trouble communicating 

communicates easily relies on inner illumination 

is applications-oriented prefers to work alone 

feels energized by and is energized by it 

interaction with others 

About 70 percent of the general population is E, but 33 percent of engineers are.

Perceiving Functions

S = sensing uses immediate and practical experience 

N = intuition uses possibilities and aspects of experience 

This is basically how one becomes aware of, or perceives the world. 


Sensing Intuition 
uses senses and powers of observation

works step by step

likes precision

prefers established methods

is patient with routine 

works steadily 

 is imaginative 

 sees possibilities 

 analysis relies on inspiration]

 may be imprecise 

  jumps to solutions (quickly) 

works in bursts 

dislikes routine 

About 70 percent of the general population is S, but 53 percent of engineers are.

Judging Functions

T = thinking logical and objective 

F = feeling subjective, personal, value-based 

This criteria relates to how one decides to process information once all of the data is in


Thinking  Feeling 
is objectively analytical

works through cause and effect

tends to be logical 

tends to be tough-minded

tends to be impartial 

understands people 

desires harmony 

stresses interpersonal skills

About 60 percent of the general population is T, but 74 percent of engineers are.

Living in the World

J = judging ordered, planned 

P = perception spontaneous, adaptive 

This is essentially how individuals function in the world


Judging  Perception
prefers to live in a planned orderly way

likes to regulate and control events 

prefers flexibility and spontaneity

 likes to understand and adapt to events 

   About 50 percent of the general population is T, but 61 percent of engineers are.


E and I are how you approach the world 

S or N are how you become of the world 

T or F is how you use the information that you are presented with

J or P is how you function in the world

What does all of this mean?

The MBTI is a way of measuring how your personality predisposes you to certain ways of receiving and integrating new knowledge. 

Most people stay the same type over long periods of time but they may change under sever stress loads to another type. 

Most people also develop the other functions even though they may prefer to use their strengths instead, this is particularly true as people enter middle age.

Teaching Methods

Just like students have their own predisposition, teachers too have their own. 

Most professors tend to interact best with students who have the same type. 

This may affect how tests are constructed, how questions are asked in class and how the material is structured. 

Being aware of your own type will help you figure out how to deal with problems with the material later on...

The SN dichotomy 

Intuition has to do with the ability to think complexly and contextually. 

Sensing types dominate the general population, but intuitives dominate in a university environment. 

Sensing and judging types do better with memorization. 

Intuitive types do better at hypothesizing and essay tests. 

Aptitude (SAT) tests generally are easier for intuitive types

Implications for Learning

People learn in different ways. If a prof teaches one way, it may inherently favor some types over others 

Faculty members serve as student role models. However, there is no data to show this in an appropriate role model for practicing engineers. 

Choice of textbooks can favor the learning pattern of some types and cause difficulties for others.

So, what do you do?

If you are having problems with the material in a class, 

Try using another book to see if it is more compatible with your learning type. You should be able to understand some books better than others. 

See a TA or meet with other students to discuss the material. Another person other than the professor may overlap with your type more and be able to connect with you better.

Engineers vs. the World

Engineering students are statistically different from others. 

We are more often introvert, thinking and judging types. 

Male engineers tend to be more thinking while females are generally more feeling. 

Different types of engineering disciplines attract different subsets of types too. 

Most types make it to their second year of courses. But then retention is statistically different for atypical types.

Importance of Diversity and Retention

For some reason atypical types self-select themselves out of engineering at some point. 

However, there is evidence showing that atypical types are as successful or even more successful than the typical engineering type because: 

        they tend to bring balance to projects 

        they think “outside the engineering box” 

        they contribute different strengths to ideas 

        extroverts are particularly good because they have the communication skills needed for success

Caveats about the MBTI testing

Students may have misunderstood a question on the exam 

A wrong box may have been marked 

Student may try to guess the answer they “should” put 

Environmental stress may change one’s type temporarily 

Results may be misinterpreted 

Reliability - the MBTI is reliable, but people can change over time 

Validity - Is the MBTI a true way of measuring aptitude?

My Type: E+6, N+4, T+6, J+5

This predisposes me to: 

E: have a student based classroom, give active instruction full of talk, give group projects, encourage experimental learning, and give choices to students 

N: give wide choices on assignments, ask “what if” questions, and to talk about theory and interpretations. 

T: present to the entire class, challenge students, need students to excel, offer objective feedback, and at extremes can be critical and harsh (but I’m not like that) 

J: have a quiet and orderly classroom, give importance to schedules and deadlines. 

Being aware of these things helps me deal with different student types

Teaching Styles:

I also did a teaching style test and found that I had the following ratings: 

E 0.4 I 0.3 

S 0.8 N 0.5 

T 1.0 F 0.8 

J 0.6 P 0.4 

A 0.0 means that I may not reach a student in that category 

A 1.0 means that I excel at reaching students of that type 

Once again, because I am aware of these types, I can compensate as an instructor.

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