Myers-Briggs: A Method for Differentiated Instruction

MyersBriggsTypesBy Clare Hulsebosch – As a high school student, I always struggled.

I did not struggle with understanding content or the difficulty of material being taught. On the contrary, I never could stay engaged or understand the point to getting a good grade. The issue was not my teachers. I actually had tons of amazing teachers in high school that engaged most students.

I struggled with something different than them.

The summer in between my freshman and sophomore years at Marquette, I took the Meyers-Briggs test. My whole family decided to take it when my older brother came home from his first day of work, and he told us how scarily accurate it was. At first, I thought it sounded kind of ridiculous. I thought no 72-question test could accurately pinpoint who I was—but then I took it.

Every description was spot on. It explained why group work was only ever detrimental to me, but was very helpful for my twin brother. The test explained that I work best with a goal in mind, which is true, because I find the idea of grades, bonuses, and promotions arbitrary. I do work because I want to do something that benefits other people, not because I get something out of it.

It completely changed how I studied and looked at school, but it also helped me see how the field of psychology can help me in my classroom.

Tests, like the Myers-Briggs, could be a great way for teachers and students to get an idea about how differential learning could be applied in the classroom. The teacher knows which student will be an INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judgmental) versus an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judgmental). These students may both seem similar, but INFJs are actually people-oriented introverts, so they often learn best by observing in a group setting. INTJs are idea-oriented introverts, so they get very intense about different ideas or theories.

My mom explains it by differentiating between the nurse and a doctor in a room. Both are vital to the workings of a hospital, but different types of people are suited for different jobs. The nurse wants to help the person and make their time in the hospital as comfortable as possible, while the doctor wants to solve the problem – their patient’s illness. One works to help the person, and the other works to complete an idea. They are both working towards the same goal though—the patient getting better.

This difference could be instrumental in teaching students. It could help a teacher decide how they approach a book when describing a concept, or how they group students. Instead of grasping at straws when looking for various methods of differential learning, personality tests could give a teacher a solid base of where to start.

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