Do personalities of students make a difference in learning?

Mee Wah Eugenia NG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Many people find teaching is a challenging job. Teaching is not merely a transfer of knowledge. Teaching requires good preparation, effective communications skills, sound subject knowledge, appropriate class management and more. It is very likely that a teacher teaches differently to different classes of the same grade at the same school. It is because students' understanding appear to be different even in the same class. So what makes students learn differently? Is that due to the different academic backgrounds, interests, motivations or personalities of students? It is almost impossible to identify the most important factor to learning effectively. However, many studies have found that personalities of students affect learning. The author attempts to teach student teachers this concept so they would teach more effectively. The theory advocated by Jung was introduced in class. Jung believed that people have different orientations which are: extraversion-introversion (E-I), sensation-intuition (S-N), and thinking-feeling (T-F). The E-I index was designed to measure the person's preferred orientation to life. S-N index was designed to measure the person's preferred way of perceiving things. T-F index was designed to measure the person's preferred way of making decisions. The Myers (Katherine and Isabel Myers) in the United States incidentally were also interested in studying people's personalities which was similar to Jung almost at the same time. They added another dimension of the personality which is judgment- perception (J-P). J-P measures the person's preferred way of dealing outside world. Therefore, there are a total of 16 different personalities, they are: ENFJ, ENFP, ENTJ, ENTP, ESFJ, ESTJ, ESFP, ESTP, INFJ, INFP, INTJ, INTP, ISFJ, ISFP, ISTJ, ISTP. The underlying assumption is that every person has a natural preference for one to the other for each of the four indices. In order for student teachers to understand the concept of personalities, they have to understand their own personalities first. There were a total of 63 student teachers of Northcote Campus participated in this pilot exercise. They were asked to fill in a personality measuring questionnaire called Myers-Briggs Type Instruments (MBTI) developed by Isabel Myers. Students were asked to verify the scores afterwards to confirm if the findings matched with their own perceptions. So what are the relationship between personalities and learning? Sensing and intuitions play a more important role in learning than other poles. It is understandable as much teaching makes use of spoken and written words. Words have to be translated from symbols into meanings by learners' intuition. That is to say, intuitives use their favorite perceptions when learning whilst sensing types use their less preferred perceptions. The difference is greater in early learning but learners soon acquire the necessary skills later. To illustrate the difference between sensing and intuitives students, one sensing student and one intuitive students were asked to describe a marker. Student teachers began to appreciate the need of different teaching approaches after the exercise. To cater for the different personalities of students, student teachers are also suggested to talk slowly so as to let sensing students to have more time to absorb. Student teachers understood various teaching approaches not only gave varieties but also more appealing to students of different personalities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1997


Ng, M. W. E. (1997, November). Do personalities of students make a difference in learning? Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) 14th Annual Conference: Compulsory Education and Beyond, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China.


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