The Learning Style Inventory™ for Students

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Introduction to Learning Styles


What Are the Four Learning Styles?

Jung's Theory of Personality Types

How we learn is a fascinating and individual process. As Carl Jung discovered, any learning process requires both perception—how we find out about persons, places, and things—and judgment—how we process or make judgments about what we perceive. Perception occurs in one of two ways, either by “sensing” or “intuiting”; and judgment occurs either by “thinking” or “feeling.” Behaviors associated with each function are outlined below.

 

The Four Functions

Perceptions Functions

Judgement Functions

sensing

intuiting

thinking

feeling

Prefers action to wonder.

Prefers a standard way of doing things.

Interested in activities that have immediate, practical use.

Works steadily when given a realistic idea of how long a task will take.

More comfortable with concrete details than abstract ideas.

Prefers wonder to action.

Prefers own way of doing things.

Interested in activities that generate possibilities and go beyond what is.

Works in bursts of energy powered by enthusiasm.

More comfortable with abstract ideas than concrete details.

Prefers to make decisions.

Thinks things through before taking action.

Decides independently of others.

Needs to be right and treated fairly.

Responds to logic and reason.

Prefers to make decisions based on personal feelings.

Responds to feelings and is spontaneous.

Seeks approval of others before making a decision.

Needs to be liked and treated in a friendly manner.

Responds to own likes and dislikes and other people’s reactions.

The preference for sensing or intuition is independent of the preference for thinking or feeling. As a result, four distinct combinations occur. These combinations are called learning styles. Furthermore, each of these combinations produces a different kind of learning style characterized by particular interests, habits of mind, and learning behaviors. Descriptions of the four learning styles follow below.

Overview of the Four Learning Styles

A style is a basic orientation toward the world based upon functional (sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling) preferences. Now let’s take a more in-depth look into the four learning styles—Mastery, Understanding, Self-Expressive, and Interpersonal—with an emphasis on what motivates each type of learner and how they learn most easily.

Sensing-Thinking or Mastery Learners

What Motivates Mastery Learners?
Mastery learners rely on sensing as a mode of perception and thinking as a means of judgment or decision making. They prefer well-organized, highly-routinized classrooms where expectations are clearly described and strongly related to practical outcomes such as good grades, things they can make or do, and practical connections to jobs and careers. More than anything else Mastery learners want to appear competent, able to complete the work assigned as well or better than other students in their classrooms or grade levels.

How Mastery Students Learn Most Easily
The combination of sensing with thinking creates students with a strong need for purposeful action. They are frequently uncomfortable with both reading and lecture and prefer to learn from brief demonstrations followed by immediate opportunities to practice what they have seen or heard. They learn most easily in skill-based content areas where each step is modeled in a step-by-step manner, and where practice is followed by immediate feedback on how well they have done. They also look for clear instructions on how they can improve their performance. They prefer work that calls for short, right or wrong answers, and they learn most easily where there is a physical object they can manipulate or a visual diagram they can follow.

Intuitive-Thinking or Understanding Learners

What Motivates Understanding Learners?
Understanding learners rely on intuition as a mode of perception and thinking as a means of judgment or decision making. Intuition focuses the learners’ attention on ideas rather than details, abstractions rather than facts, patterns rather than components, forests rather than trees. The thinking function creates a strong need for logical consistency, a commitment to thinking things through, a preference for reason and discovery over demonstration and modeling. Though some Understanding learners share with Mastery students a desire for efficiency, they are motivated largely by a need to understand and question what they learn rather than simply accept and record what the textbook or the teacher claims.

How Understanding Students Learn Most Easily
The Understanding learner thrives in an intellectual atmosphere and has a strong drive for perfection. Rigorous texts, demanding and complex ideas, well-organized but provocative lectures stimulate Understanding learners’ brains to action. But this intellectual atmosphere needs to be balanced effectively with opportunities for them to develop their own ideas and to question, revise, and criticize the ideas of others. They may grasp a new concept with frightening speed and lucidity but may require more time to think things through and put the new learning into action. The demand for logical consistency means they have a strong need to question and test ideas. Finally, their concern with intellectual content and reasoning sometimes causes them to undervalue the need for routine work and practice resulting in boredom when teachers insist on drill and practice.

Intuitive-Feeling or Self-Expressive Learners

What Motivates Self-Expressive Learners?
Self-Expressive learners rely on intuition as a mode of perception and feeling as a means of judgment or decision making. The intuition of Self-Expressive learners uses hunch, guessing, and insight to organize the world into shifting patterns of possibility. Meanwhile, their feeling function applies association, memory, and emotion to the task of turning these patterns into concrete images they can use to understand what they are learning, and to create meaningful products. It is through these processes of imagination, creativity, personal expression, and communication that Self-Expressive learners become excited and motivated in the classroom.

How Self-Expressive Students Learn Most Easily
Self-Expressive learners need stimulation and surprise to engage and focus their attention. They thrive on imaginative literature and provocative prose in science and social studies. They master content when they can add a personal, creative hook to lessons or create a project to stimulate their imaginations: in social studies, they might look to bring in dusty diaries of ancestors or to write a history of the American Revolution through the eyes of a slave or Native American; in science class they might push for a trip to the local pond that’s been carved in the woods by a glacier; they might use their knowledge of statistics and percentages to create a business plan. They also need sustained, quieter times to work through and implement their ideas.

Sensing-Feeling or Interpersonal Learners

What Motivates Interpersonal Learners?
Interpersonal learners rely on sensing (focus on the physical nature of the world) as a mode of perception and feeling as a means of judgment or decision making. But, unlike Mastery learners who transform the data into separate details, Interpersonal learners look to extend these physical sensations into images and emotions and strive to connect this new information to their own body of personal experience. What Interpersonal students seek that Mastery students don’t is a sense of belonging and a reason to believe they are part of a team or cooperative group. Interpersonal students are strongly motivated by the quality of their relationships to the teacher, to the other students, and to their parents and friends.

How Interpersonal Students Learn Most Easily
The combination of sensing and feeling provokes in the Interpersonal student a strong need for conversation. The Interpersonal student best confirms and reinforces new learning through conversation, personal connections, and shared projects. When it comes to skills, both Mastery and Interpersonal learners need modeling and demonstration, but Interpersonal learners prefer a more personal approach where feedback and correction are carried by the human voice of the teacher or another student. Though they show some preference for shortanswer work, they are quite comfortable with work that asks for their thoughts, feelings, and personal opinions. Physical objects and visual diagrams can aid in their learning, but it is the quality of the social content, learning partner, cooperative group, or relationship with the teacher that drives them to do their best work.

 

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