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Learning Styles Resources

Learning Style Resource Page

Paragon Learning Style Inventory

Cognitive Style and Classroom Management

Research into Cognitive Preference (also called Personality Type, Learning Style, or Temperament Type) demonstrates that teachers’ values are strongly predicted by their type on various cognitive dimensions. In a very real way “we teach our cognitive type.” Myers, McCaulley, Quenk, and Hammer (1998) found that if teachers did nothing to alter their teaching – that is when they resorted to their “default” tendencies, the students who were less like them by cognitive preference were less successful, enjoyed the class less and actually received lower grades, while the student who were more like them felt more successful and received better grades. Conversely, if the teacher was aware of their cognitive style default tendencies and actively worked to be more responsive to the diversity of their students’ needs the students who differed from them in cognitive type approached the success and enjoyment of the students who were like them.  Simply put, this is another dimension of teaching in which unconsciousness leads to the penalization of students. And just as we penalize those students who are culturally different from us when we are not aware of our biases, we penalize those students who are cognitively different from us when our lack of awareness leads to our defaulting to our hardwired tendencies.

EXTROVERT  (@60% of population)
learns best from doing
is more at ease and confident socially
likes to know how others are doing it
gets energized from socializing
readily volunteers and offers opinions
ideas start from the outside in

INTROVERT  (@40% of population)
likes to watch before doing
prefers working alone or with one other
sets own standards when possible
likes quiet space to work
seems "deep" and hard to understand
ideas start from inside out

SENSATE  (@65% of population)
is more realistic and practical
is more patient and steady
uses his/her experience and common sense
likes routines and order
looks more for what is actual and sensible
lives in the here and now

INTUITIVE  (@35% of population)
is more imaginative and abstract
likes new challenge, works in spurts
trusts what makes sense to her/him
dislikes routine and detail work
looks more for what is possible
lives toward her/his vision of the future

FEELER  (@65% of females: 45% of males)
is more interested in people than ideas
focuses more on personal relationships
likes harmony dislikes conflict
is tuned in to others' feelings
is warm and arouses enthusiasm
makes decisions based on his/her heart

THINKER (@55% of males: 35% of females)
is more interested in fascinating ideas
wants things to be fair and reasonable
stands-up for what he/she thinks
is tuned in to logical consistency
is cool-headed and impartial in conflict
makes decisions based on rational thought

JUDGER  (@45% of population)
is more decisive than curious
likes planned and scheduled activities
has very set opinions
feels good when things are completed
likes order and organization
may make decisions too quickly

PERCEIVER  (@55% of population)
is more curious than decisive
likes the spontaneous and unplanned
is flexible, adaptable, and tolerant
like to keep options open
seeks more to understand than manage things
may have trouble making up her/his mind

Introvert vs. Extrovert
Some of us are by nature, more introverted and some of us are more extroverted. As with any dimension of cognitive tendency, there is no better or more effective type. Yet, if I do not make any effort to understand my tendencies and natural preferences, I will assume that my values have been chosen, whereas, in reality, I am simply defaulting to the values that I share with every other unaware introvert or extrovert. On the first day of class, I show a list of values that were expressed by different type combinations over the years in research studies. When I ask if they agree with the values expressed by the others of their type (i.e., the predicted set of values), 95% agree. In other words, they admit that they are predictable. So, what is the problem? First, do you want to teach only from a set of values that you were given at birth? Second, as we discussed students unlike us are penalized. Third, we are missing an opportunity to grow into a more effective teacher.

Introverted teachers will default to the values such as, quiet is good, on-task independent working students is success, be reflective before you speak or act. Extroverted teachers will default to values such as, activity is good, students working together is success, and high energy in the classroom is positive. Which set of values is better? We can combine them to a degree, but taken to the extreme they promote vastly different kinds of classrooms. Moreover, as we discussed in Chapter 11, our students will be about half introverts and half extroverts, with different needs. So what do we do? Begin by recognizing that much of what you value is simply your default tendencies talking. Second, open up to practices that you choose based on what you find to be effective in helping your students (or all types) to succeed.

Intuitive (Abstract) vs. Sensate (Practical)
Abstract minded Intuitives commonly show a value for such things as creativity, concept development, and theoretical knowledge. More practical minded Sensates commonly show a value for such things as the accuracy of work, common sense, and the quality of the form the work takes.

Judger (Sequential) vs. Perceiver (Random) 
Some of us have a more decisive and sequential way of processing information. Using the Jungian labels, these types are called Judgers. Judgers commonly show a value for such things as being on time, writing that is to the point, organization, and tend to have strong opinions. Some of us have a more random and/or nonlinear way of processing information. This type is referred to as Perceivers, and they tend to show a value for such things as being flexible, generating ideas, thinking outside the box, patient decision making, and being open to divergent viewpoints.

Within the book, you are given opportunities to question and reassess your default values. But it is useful to maintain at least a little attention on what those “default value” voices are telling you to think. Because we are dealing with what are truly “hardwired preferences,” this may be the most difficult area to break current habits of action and thinking.

The Factor Combinations that Most Affect School Life
The two factors that most affect how one acts and learns in school are those of introversion/extroversion and sensation/intuition. Introverts may be more reflective while extroverts may be more outgoing. Practical skills may come more easily to sensates, while intuitives may be more comfortable with imagination. The key to academic and social success is to get to know your learning style and your comfort areas and then use those strengths to work on your less developed areas. The chart below shows the four possible combinations.


Extroverts (E)

Introverts (I)

Sensates (S)

ESs  Action oriented realists  ( ≈ 36%)

This type loves action and things happening.  They like to get practical results from their work, and like to work in groups. For them too much watching is a waste of time, they want to do. They like to share what they are doing and thinking. They get impatient when things are too slow, complicated, or abstract.

ISs  Thoughtful realists  ( ≈ 36%)

This type is the most careful and steady. They don't mind working alone or with one other. They like practical results and are good with details, and technical things. They are often the least expressive; they see much but usually share little. They don't like careless ideas, plans, or too many new things at once.

Intuitives (N)

ENs  Action oriented innovators  ( ≈ 16%)

This type is really motivated and likes to make things happen. They like to work in groups on new and interesting things. They like to take their theories and apply them with others. They share easily, especially what's inside. They don't like details, routines, or the same old thing for too long.

INs  Thoughtful innovators  ( ≈ 12%)

This type is the best at solving problems. They like to work at their own pace on their own ideas. They like to make creative and scientific things. They would rather express themselves through their thoughts, instead of socializing with lots of others. They don't like doing busy work or things that don't make sense.

The Combinations that Most Affect How We See Things
When sensation is combined with the last (J/P) category, and intuition is combined with the third (T/F) category, four combinations are created that are often called the four temperaments types. When looking at a problem each of the four types may see it, and approach solving it, very differently. But for a team to be most successful it needs to incorporate the ideas and perspectives of each of these four learning styles.


SPs  Sensible, Adaptable, Active types  ( ≈ 30%)

When sensate qualities are combined with perceiver qualities the result is usually someone very tuned in to the here and now. They like doing and playing today, and not being too worried about tomorrow. They are the most spontaneous and easy-going. They like to get involved in new and interesting activities. School can be boring for the SP, if it is means sitting still and doing all written work, but it can be fun too, because that's often where the action is.

SJs  Sensible, Decision-making types  ( ≈ 40%)

When sensate qualities are combined with judging qualities the result is usually someone who is very dependable and responsible. The SJ is very service-oriented and are good "team players.” They most like situations that are spelled-out and well organized. SJs like institutions like school, teams, church and family. They usually don't mind step-by-step work, and they like and do well in school (partly because most teachers are SJs themselves).


NFs  Enthusiastic, Insightful types  ( ≈ 20%)

When intuition is combined with feeling qualities the result is someone who is very good with people and language. The NF is usually very enthusiastic and warm. They are very oriented toward cooperative things, and away from competitive things. They usually have very strong feelings about things and people, they really like them or really don't. NFs are very personal types, and thrive in supportive, creative, and harmonious situations.

NTs  Logical, Ingenious types  ( ≈ 10%)

When intuition is combined with a thinking style the result is someone who always needs to know "why?” NTs are less interested in how things have been done, and more interested in how they can improve and change them. They are very imaginative, and are very comfortable in the "world of ideas.” They like to be good at things, and always want to be learning. They can appear unemotional, and can be accused of having an "attitude," which is usually not the case.


From Paragon Educational Consulting (2008)


The figure below may be helpful in your effort to understand your “type” preferences and to recognize area for growth in the area of classroom management.

Figure 3.3. Classroom Management Tendencies of Each Cognitive/Teaching Style


Intuitives (N)/Abstract

Sensates (S)/Practical

Perceivers (P)/Random

NPs (Abstract – Random)

Creative – Spontaneous


The Intuitive (N)/Perceiver (P) combination tends to be the most creative and free-thinking type.  A good term for their classroom management style mentality is “global.” They tend to incorporate a broad set of principles and are very comfortable making adjustments on the fly.
Things to learn from the NP:

  • A dynamic approach to teaching
  • How to use data/events to learn to evolve and change
  • How expectations can be implicit but well-understood
  • The benefits of reading the students and the situation and not being a slave to the plan

Things the NP might need to work on:

  • Making the structure more explicit (especially for the SJ students)
  • Keeping in mind that changing plans can be really uncomfortable if it happens frequently
  • Being sensitive that setting and keeping to time frames is helpful for many students
  • Being very clear and concrete when giving directions

SPs (Practical – Random)-

Realistic and Spontaneous


The sensate (S)/Perceiver (P) combination tends to be the most  tuned-in to the present moment reality. Their classroom management can be the most subjective, in the sense that they interpret events on a student-by-student basis. They are the most likely to trust a strategy that has worked in the past, and they rely less on theory than experience.
Things to learn from the SP:

  • How to appreciate the subjective nature of teaching and students
  • How to adjust to the situation
  • How to project an authentic and “here and now” affect
  • Practical innovations to the job

Things the SP might need to work on:

    • How to be more consistent and principle-driven
    • How to be less personal and reactive with student misbehavior
    • Thinking more in terms of long-term outcomes as opposed to what seems to work in the short-term
    • Communicating a sense of vision and purpose to students
Judgers (J)/Sequential

NJs (Abstract- Sequential)

Systematic – Rational


The intuitive (N)/Judger (J) combination tends to be the most principle-driven of all the types. Their classroom management style mentality begins with a set of theoretical assumptions as the primary reality, which is then applied to practical situations as needed. They tend to have very strong ideas about what they want and desire all the aspects of their class to fit into an integrated whole.
Things to learn from the NJ:

  • How to think more systemically
  • How to attend to patterns below the surface rather than just what is apparent
  • Innovative ideas they develop

Things the NJ might need to work on:

  • Changing strategies when something is not working
  • Allowing more flexibility in the day for some students
  • Being tolerant of the diverse needs and approaches of students
  • Being concrete when giving directions
  • Not assuming that a good theoretical explanation will translate into “what to do” for most students.

SJs (Concrete – Sequential)

Realistic and Organized


The sensate (S)/Judger (J) combination is the most common among teachers possibly for their natural affinity for order and structure, and their comfort with institutional settings. Practical system-thinking comes easily to them, so their classrooms usually reflect a high degree of efficiency. They typically find a set of effective routines and procedures and refine them over time.
Things to learn from the SJ:

  • How to create efficient procedures
  • Practical ideas that save time and energy
  • Ways to visually display and manage ideas and materials to good advantage
  • Consistency and Fairness

Things the SJ might need to work on:

  • Changing patterns when there is evidence that a need is present
  • Mistakenly interpreting an efficient practice as one that is inherently effective/healthy for students
  • Putting more emphasis of promoting intrinsic types of motivation rather than relying on too many extrinsic forms
  • Being more flexible and spontaneous when it would benefit the situation

From Paragon Educational Consulting (2008)

Five ingredients seem to be critical to create a win-win approach to successfully teaching students who are inevitably different from us in their learning style. First, the teacher must have an awareness of who they themselves are, what they value and their natural “default preferences.”  Second, the approach must provide the teacher a systematic means to understanding the learning needs and cognitive style preferences of each of the students in the class, as well as helping the students function collectively and appreciate one another’s gifts. Third, the teacher must have well-established pedagogical tools that are effective across learning styles. Fourth, the approach must provide the teacher an understanding of both sides of each learning dimension and offer strategies to meet the needs of students who work out of opposing preferences. Finally, the system should illuminate the conditions in which different types of students work best so that the teacher can create opportunities for each student to work to his/her particular strength.  These ingredients could be considered to be hierarchical in nature, each element building upon the last, as depicted in the figure below.

Understand Student Preferences,Sound (win-win) Pedagogy,Teach Across Type,Opportunities  to Work to Strengths,Teacher Self-Awareness 

To gain self awareness and knowledge of student learning style, it can be helpful to take the Paragon Learning Style Inventory. There are versions for adults and students over the age of 8.

The full text of the article “Teaching for the Success of All Learning Styles: Five Principles for Promoting Greater Teacher Effectiveness and Higher Student Achievement for All Students” is available from Paragon Educational Consulting:

www.calstatela.edu/plsi  or