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This paper will be based on a reflection on my personal assessment of the learning styles and personality tests. Belbin (1981) defines learning as “a permanent change in behavior resulting from experience.” Educational psychologists point out that all people have different learning abilities. As a result, different learning styles have been devised to fit various learning abilities. It is therefore imperative for one to understand his or her learning style in order to be able to choose learning activities that fit their learning styles (Belbin 1981). Once an individual understands his or her learning style, they can focus on improving their learning experience by using their best learning styles. Students who understand their learning styles can make their learning process more enjoyable by focusing on what is in their interest. Belbin (1981) asserts that understanding one’s learning style provides students with a gateway to many learning opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge.
The Learning Style Questionnaire
In order to understand one’s learning style, a learning test has to be carried out for evaluation. The test is conducted through a learning style questionnaire. The questionnaire is based on four learning style; the activist, reflector, theorist and pragmatist. For each of the learning style, there are up to five scoring sections with assigned points. The questionnaire format is in form of a normal distribution curve, beginning with a low of 10%, raising to 40% and falling again to 10%. After filling the questionnaire, my analyzed results were as follows; activist B, reflector B, theorist D and pragmatist D. according to the scores, I scored highly for the activist and reflector learning styles, and low score in the theorist and pragmatist learning styles.Having understood the learning styles that best fits me, my task is to strengthen my learning skills based on my learning styles.
Brown and Pendlebury (1997) point out that activist have a tendency to fully submerge themselves in the leaning activities they take part in. They also have an open mind and are more focused on the present enjoyment rather than the future. Brown and Pendlebury (1997) assert that activists are inwardly centered individuals who often act without bothering others for ideas. As a result, activists hardly consider the consequences of their actions either to themselves or the other people close to them. They simply act and hope that all will be well. Based on this evaluation, my objective is to seek the best way to benefit from the traits of my learning style. According to Brown and Pendlebury (1997) activists prefer a number of learning activities which will henceforth be my focus. These include; Brainstorming, this is a highly productive learning method in which a group of individuals contribute ideas through a discussion forum on a particular topic.
Problem solving is another learning activity associated with the activists’ learning style. The process gives a learner an experience to tackle real life problems. This in the long run equips the learner with a variety of skills to solve problems in life. It is important for a learner to gain the skills of problem solving as he or she prepares for the roles of an independent citizen after school. Life out of school revolves around problem solving, this can either be a group work approach or as an individual task. Either way, it is important that one understands how to source information for solving problems and can be able to perceive the implications the decisions they come up with. Buchanan and Huczynski (1997) content that the more problems one solves the more perfect he or she becomes in making decisions on given problems. On his part, Button (1971) recounts that every problem solved creates two or more problems for the individual or community. A good example for this scenario is when one decides to clear a forest to create land for agricultural activities to alleviate hunger. Once the forest is cleared, thousands of problems relating to climate change will be at hand both for the community and those who cleared the forest. This is a clear prove that humanity will forever face problems and therefore the need to learn how to solve them.
Conyne (1999) also adds that the activists pride in role play and competition. Role play gives a participant an opportunity to have a firsthand experience on roles of various characters in life. This gives a learner a practical learning experience in which they are bound to gain more insight than learning theory. Besides, role play provides a learner with real life learning experience unlike the classroom case that is usually artificial. Greater attention in this learning process is given to the student by allowing them chance to act on particular roles. Competition is an integral part of life which every individual faces. Conyne (1999) indicates that activists like competing with others. Competition gives learners chance to rate themselves against others in the same class. As long as the teacher endeavors to foster a healthy competition in class, students can rightly use their results to gauge their performance. I will strive to compete among my peers with the objective of rating my performance in class against theirs.
My scores on the learning style questionnaire are also high on reflectors. According to Garvin (1997) reflectors are rather laid back and analytical in every decision they make. On his part Conyne (1999) finds reflectors to be individuals who are more keen and cautious especially with information. Reflectors tend to form the bigger picture about life by consolidating information from past and present experiences. Besides, reflectors desire paired deliberations, together with observation activities. An integration of the two learning styles; reflectors and theorists can give rise to a more enhanced learning experience. Opponents to the learning style questionnaire argue that the method falls short in classifying individuals in one particular class. As seen from my scores, many learners find themselves belonging to more than one learning style on the learning style questionnaire. According to Garvin (1997) the learning style questionnaire is an important tool for creation learning groups. The learning groups provide the most effective learners with an opportunity to learn from other learning styles. Garvin (1997) asserts that in cases where a learner scores highly in more than one learning style, the learner should be classified in both styles.
A Belbin report is generated from the Belbin “self-perception inventory” (Garvin 1997). The report is important in helping people learn to work together in a team by identifying the roles they can effectively play in the team. Using the Belbin report a manager can be able to identify the best role for his team members basing on their personalities. Parker (1998) points out that the success of a team relies heavily on the behavior composition of the team members. This explains why a team comprising of well-educated individuals can fail to function well while one with less educated individuals performs well. After carrying out a self-perception inventory test on the Belbin’s test, my primary preferred was a team shaper. According to Parker (1998) primary shapers are outgoing and dynamic individuals who strive to achieve in every assignment. They are individuals who are highly motivated and will not fear to take a lead and push others into action.
As a primary shaper, I believe I can make a good manager as I am able to swing into action and do well under pressure. I am well skilled in breathing new life in a group at a time the rest of the group members feel exhausted. I am always charged to ascend above problems despite the difficulty in the situation. Rollinson and Broadfield (2002) indicate that shapers do not fear making less popular decisions about life as long as the decision can help them achieve a good objective for the group. The characteristics of a shaper make them effective in leading a team to attain its desired objective.
My secondary preferred according to the Belbin score is a coordinator. Rollinson, and Broadfield (2002) suggest that coordinators possess the ability to influence their colleagues to work and attain collective goals. They trust people more readily and as a result they can easily delegate duties without bothering to stay close to the one they delegate the duties to. In any given team, coordinators command greater respect due to their ability to identify talents and use them to pursue the interests of the team. I view myself as one who is well endowed with a variety of skills and a dynamic personality that can easily integrate with other people. I am comfortable to work with colleagues who are at the same level with me rather than my juniors. Another strong personality of a coordinator as Schon (1983) points out is their ability to carry out controlled consultation and dealing with problems in a quiet way. Coordinators believe in the ability and ideas of others and are more open to other people’s ideas without bias. They always remain focused on the main goal regardless of the destructions in their way.
The Big Five Locator
The big five locator is a model used to represent people’s personality sets relating to satisfaction and success. The model comprises of five components; “extroversion, agreeableness, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and openness to experience” Schon (1983). In my own assessment based on the big five locator model, I found that my traits include; “preserver, flexible, introvert, adapter, and responsive.” As an introvert, I am rather shy and I do not socialize much with friends. Unlike an extrovert, am less outgoing and more reserved, but still functional in society.
However, extreme extroversions and introversions are dysfunctional in societies. The score of “flexible” rates me as one who would easily agree with people and therefore easy to work with. My rating on emotional stability scale is “adapter”, this means that my reaction to emotional situations is measured and objective. On the scale of conscientiousness, I rate as a responsive individual. This implies that I am a committed and reliable team player. I am not very open to new experiences. Rather, I like keeping to what I already know and understand. On this scale, I rate as one who is more comfortable with the status quo and less comfortable with what is not familiar.
Type A and B Personality
Using the type A personality, I scored on 96 for a type A. Type A persons are usually like multitasking and are often more impatient. Button (1971) points out that type A individuals thrive well in the new technology world which presents them an opportunity to deal with more than one thing at a time. According to Button (1971) type A personalities are characterized by “aggressiveness, hostility, time urgency, and competitiveness.” People with type A personality are however, characterized by coronary diseases and therefore there is need to exercise regularly to reduce changes of falling victim to these diseases.
Type A personalities are also generally highly tempered and easily irritated. As one with this personality type, I will need to register for stress management classes in order to be able to deal with the pressure associated with my character traits. Brown and Pendlebury (1997) commend that type A personalities tend to more proactive when it comes to getting power and authority. Time is a very vital resource to type A personalities which they jealously guard.
Belbin (1981) defines procrastination as a behavior tendency to postpone issues. Various researchers argue that the term procrastination is complex and cannot be defined. Rollinson and Broadfield (2002) point out that some people may postpone issues in a planned manner so as to provide time for other activities before tackling the postponed one. The tendency to postpone issues is caused “by lack of impulse control” (Garvin 1997). A procrastination test can help one establish whether he or she has a procrastination tendency. This comprises of a set of questions for self assessment based on ‘thinking, emotions and behavior” (Garvin 1997). The test is meant to indicate the spots of procrastination on which an individual can work on to improve. On the procrastination indicator, I scored a 2.3, which is a high score on procrastination. It therefore means that I need to work on this weakness to improve on my delays on the activities that I schedule to carry out.
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For one to function appropriately in a team, the issue of personality and behavior dynamics is very important. Team work calls for learning and cooperating with other team members. However, each individual has different learning styles as well as personality traits. For the purpose of grouping people, psychologists use clusters of learning styles and personality types. There are four broad learning styles advanced by psychologists, they include; theorists, pragmatists, activists and reflectors. One can use the learning style questionnaire to do a self evaluation and identify a learning style that best suits his or her learning. The questionnaire is usually based on a 20 point score. The table below shows an illustration of the learning style questionnaire.
|Lowest 10%||Next 20%||Highest 40%||Next 20%||Lowest 10%|
Source: Garvin (1997).
After filling in the learning style questionnaire, one can then use the table to identify the learning style that corresponds to the scores from the questionnaire. The identified learning style should then be matched with the learning and teaching methods for effective learning. According to Garvin (1997) multiple intelligence theory, teachers must put in consideration the diversity of their learners when preparing learning materials. This can help them capture the learning needs of each of the students in their classrooms. besides that students posses different learning abilities; teachers too have different instruction approaches. Teachers should therefore integrate a variety of teaching approaches in order reach out to the diverse learning needs of the students.
Personality patterns play an important role in team work and learning. It is imperative for teachers and managers to understand the differences in personality patterns in order to know how their “team members tend to react to situations” (Garvin 1997). In order to understand much about personality, there are different tools that are used for measurement of personality. The tools include; the Belbin test, the “big five” model, and type A and B personality. Information from either of the tools can be used to find some insights about an individual’s personality trait. The Belbin test is an important tool for testing one’s team roles. Managers and teachers can use the Belbin test to assign roles to different individuals in a team, based on their abilities. The model uses a self perception inventory to capture information from an individual, which is then analyzed and used to classify them in various team roles. The team roles include; “shapers, implementers, coordinators, resource investigators, team workers, completers and specialists” (Tuckman 1965). Managers can use this information to assign roles to team members based on their abilities in order to achieve functional teams.
The big five model is considered one of the best approaches in determining personality traits. In this model, all the human personality traits have been grouped into five broad categories. Using the five categories, one can be able to choose description that best fits his or her behavior in each section. After scoring in the five categories, one can identify the personality traits that best suits his or her behavior changes. The big five model is usually based on aspects of job satisfaction, which also relates to life satisfaction. The five dimensions of the big five locator include; “emotionality, introversion, agreeableness, openness and conscientiousness” (Tuckman, 1965)
|Introversion||(introvert, ambivert, extrovert)|
|Emotionality||(resilient, responsive or reactive)|
|Agreeableness||(challenge, negotiator adaptor)|
|Openness||(preserver, moderate, adapter)|
|Conscientiousness||(flexible, balanced, focused)|
Source: (Tuckman, 1965).
The scores in the table above range from 35 for the lowest to 65 for the highest score.
The type A and B personality is another approach used to measure personality traits. This personality theory was advanced by Friedmann Myer and Rosemann. The two cardiologists classified human personality into two broad categories; A and B. Type A personality according to them are individuals who are more “concerned about their status and achievement” (Tuckman, 1965). The two further pointed out that type A personalities regard themselves with high esteem and are very impatient. Type A personalities are however, associated with heart diseases due to high stress levels emanating from their lifestyle. Type B personalities are on the other hand more satisfied and patient. Opponents of this theory argue that the theory does not consider women volunteers and also makes use of large sample sizes that are hard to analyze.
One major incident I encountered in the course is when my instructor divided us into random groups of three. This incident resulted in some members not participating. It created a significant conflict for the success of the whole group. Perhaps, lack of responsibility and the varying learning style of each group member was the cause. Groups undergoes various stages during its formation, hence each stage is characterized by its own success and failures. Accordingly, Belbin (1981) assert that people have varying learning aptitudes, and that they fit into different learning styles. He further illustrate that a group leader is able to identify the best role for his team members basing on their personalities (Belbin, 1981).
Garvin (1997) also supports Belbin assertions. He illustrates that knowing a learner’s style is critical for effective group participation. If the instructor would have taken time to analyze the group members learning style, I think he would have devised a better style fitting individual member in the group as indicated by Belbin (1981). To ensure participation from members in the group, I embraced the Belbin test to identify the capabilities of each member in the group basing on his/her personality, and designated him/her with a responsibility. Also, I played an active role coordinating the group through influence and decision making. This was to avoid conflicts and provide a clear direction for the group’s success as Rollinson and Broadfield (2002) illustrate. In the future, I would suggest that a careful selection of group members based on their individual behavior should be embraced. Also, learning style befitting each member is equally important, hence; I would suggest individual to be grouped basing on the learning styles to guarantee the success of the group (Parker, 1998).
I learned that group work is a challenge because it encompasses people from different backgrounds and learning needs. Thus, understanding individual behavior and learning needs is important in supporting group success. Learning skills in a group requires knowledge, experience and practice, thus, it is a challenging task.
Belbin, R 1981, Management Teams, Butterworth Heinemann, New York.
Brown, G Bull, J and Pendlebury, M 1997, Assessing Student Learning In Higher Education, Rutledge, New York.
Buchanan, D and Huczynski, A 1997, Organizational BehaviourAn Introductory Text, 3rd edition, Pearson – Prentice Hall, London.
Button, L 1971, Developmental Group Work with Adolescents, Hodder and Stoughton, New York.
Conyne, R 1999 Failures in Group Work: How We Can Learn From Our Mistakes, Sage Publications, London.
Garvin, C 1997, Contemporary Group Work, Prentice Hall, London.
Parker, B 1998, Globalization and Business Practice Managing Across Boundaries, SAGE Publications Ltd, London.
Rollinson, D and Broadfield, A 2002, Organizational Behaviour and Analysis An Integrated Approach, 2nd edition Pearson – Prentice Hall, London.
Schon, D 1983, The Reflective Practitioner: how professionals think in action, Temple Smith London.
Tuckman, B. 1965, “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups”. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 63, pp 384-399.