Designing Training Solutions With Myers-Briggs In Mind

Designing Training Solutions With Myers-Briggs In Mind
Summary: Renowned management consultant, author, educator, and business-thought leader, Peter Drucker, once said: “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” As a founding father of modern leadership theory, Mr. Drucker had a deep understanding of what makes a good leader. Yet, many of today’s leadership training curriculum show scant appreciation of the fact that to produce good results, leaders must be trained. And that training should directly reflect the attributes of the environments in which they are expected to lead.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator And Tips To Designing Training Solutions

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) is a personality evaluation tool, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katharine Briggs. The tool is based on the original work of psychologist C.G Jung. MBTI is used in a number of situations, where it is important to understand how to tailor interactions (interviews, tests, training, performance evaluations, lectures) based on the personality of individuals or groups. Trainers and Instructional Designers can leverage the essence of an MBTI to design highly effective training solutions.

The Essence Of Myers-Briggs To Learning

It is well documented that each individual learns differently, and that difference is based on the strengths, preferences, and weaknesses that the learner possesses. For instance, some learners have a strong memorizing capacity and can recollect training material without actually understanding the real meaning. Others have strong comprehension, and they can, therefore, understand new theories and concepts more readily than some of their peers.

As a result of these personality traits, training experts believe that the teaching/learning process will be most effective when it aligns with individual learning styles. As a trainer or Instructional Designer, therefore, it helps to know the personal style and learning preferences of your learners, before you design a training course.

Let’s take a closer look at how Myers-Briggs fits into hypothetical learning situations. Let’s assume, for example, that you develop a course that relies primarily on key elements of the content being memorized by your learners. Let’s further assume that, success is determined by the learner’s ability to demonstrate what they’ve learned by recalling and applying that knowledge.

If your target audience consists primarily of learners who possess a higher level of thinking, then it is highly likely that a majority of your learners will fail the course. That’s because “thinking”, “understanding” and “comprehending” do not factor into a successful outcome. However, learners with a good ability to memorize will pass with flying colors, even though they do not really comprehend the concepts presented in the course content.

Therefore, to accomplish the desired instructional outcomes, trainers and course designers must design according to learner preferences and personality traits.

Myers-Briggs Deconstructed

MBTI deconstructs learner personalities into a set of sixteen personality types, each based on a combination of 4 pairs of “dichotomies” or characteristics. Three of these dichotomies, the E-I, S-N and T-F pairs, were originally proposed by Jung, while the J-P relationship was proposed by Myers-Briggs. Since MBTI evaluates and focuses on different functions and attitudes of individuals, it can be a great tool to use when designing learning content. However, it is equally applicable to other spheres as well, including business, consulting, counseling, and marketing and selling.

The 4 pairs of dichotomies that make up MBTI are:

  1. Extraverted (E) Vs. Introverted (I)
    Which defines a learner’s general preferences that motivate learning. Learning in I-types are stimulated by internal factors, while E-types learn by being influenced by external factors.
  2. Sensing (S) Vs. Intuition (N)
    S-types like to perceive learning in more direct and concrete ways, as compared to N-types, who grasp concepts in broad categories.
  3. Feeling (F) Vs. Thinking (T)
    F-types learn well when content strikes a chord with their personal feelings about the subject, while T-types apply reasoning and logic to the subject matter before they learn.
  4. Judging (J) Vs. Perceiving(P)
    J-types learn when exposed to structured and systematic learning processes, while P-types thrive in heuristic and less rigid learning environments.

It is obvious therefore that, personality types and individual learning preferences can greatly influence how learners are motivated to learn, and how they can perceive, understand and absorb new theories and concepts. Consequently, as a trainer or Instructional Designer, you should keep personality traits in mind when designing courses.

Applying Myers-Briggs To Training Design

So, once you’ve understood your learner’s MBTI, how could you use that information to design effective training content? Well, once you know HOW learners learn best, it’s easier to design content when they will leverage those specific learning preferences.

Let’s take a look at a few practical examples of how to design content for each type of learner:

1. For E-Type Learners

  • Design content that’s highly interactive in nature.
  • Include “hands-on” activities and exercises.
  • Change your topics frequently.

2. For I-Type Learners

  • Provide the opportunity to work individually on tasks and exercises.
  • Include lots of supplementary (optional) materials in the course.

3. For S-Type Learners

  • Start by requiring the memorization of key facts.
  • Make the content visual – lots of diagrams, pictures, and videos.

4. For N-Type Learners

  • Map out or illustrate a theoretical concept.
  • Make heavy use of metaphors and symbols throughout the course.
  • Encourage the discovery of data-supported patterns and associations.

5. For T-Type Learners

  • Present your concepts logically, and encourage learners to make logical assumptions and implications.
  • Encourage critical questioning and debating.
  • Use well-defined performance and evaluation criteria.

6. For F-Type Learners

  • Design courses that encourage collaboration, cooperation, and group interaction.
  • Build content that illustrates the impact of theories and concepts being taught, on broader society.

7. For J-Type Learners

  • Make sure you have a well-structured course schedule, mapping out tasks and assignments well in advance.
  • Make expectation (e.g. what the class as a whole, or the panel of evaluators) clear about the outcomes of the learner.

8. For P-Type Learners

  • Use open-ended statements and questions.
  • Include multiple sources of information.
  • Have deadline-driven deliverables (assignments, discussion papers, essays) for learners.

By designing courses that include a variety of content, presented in different ways, and which targets learners with different learning preferences, Instructional Designers can achieve better learning outcomes across a broad group of learners. Trainers can also use the knowledge about each learner’s MBTI to provide one-on-one teaching or counseling, especially in settings where (a few) individuals seem to be challenged with specific aspects (assignments, essays, quizzes) of the course. These elements may need to be personalized, based on how a specific learner tends to grasp the content (as highlighted by their MBTIs) to which they relate.

But knowledge about a learners’ MBTI isn’t only useful for Instructional Designers – it can also help learners. By understanding what their MBTI is, learners will get a better understanding of what their learning styles/preferences are, and they can then adapt their learning to different types of content that they are exposed to in a course.

If you want to learn more about designing effective curriculum, get a copy of the Instructional Design For eLearning: Essential Guide To Creating Successful eLearning Courses book. This book is also available in Spanish.