Personality Dimensions® of Year 5/6 Students and Teachers – Raising Awareness of Learning Styles and the Implications for Educators
“When someone is teaching us in our most comfortable style, we learn.” (McCarthy, 1980)
Personality Dimensions® uses the metaphor of colour to describe the four types of learners and how they need to be responded to (Tudor & Konyu, 2011). Based on the Learning Style descriptors of Bernice McCarthy, these types are:
- Authentic Blue or Type 1 – Innovative Learners
- Inquiring Green or Type 2 – Analytic Learners
- Organised Gold or Type 3 – Common Sense Learners
- Resourceful Orange or Type 4 – Dynamic Learners
In addition, Personality Dimensions® incorporates an understanding of Introversion and Extraversion preferences and the impact of these preferences, not only on the individual – by recognising how they are energised – but also on how others see and relate to them. According to Tudor and Konyu, “the Introversion/Extraversion function will impact…the participatory needs of the learner.”
Personality Dimensions® (PD) is a human relations model, presented in an interactive workshop format. Its strength lies in its self-discovery process and balanced learning style delivery. The Colour picture card depictions of the four temperaments are designed to help participants retain the information. They often begin to immediately apply this information to their lives.
Personality Dimensions® and Temperament Theory
Personality Dimensions® relies heavily on earlier theorists as well as independent studies. Theorists responsible for developing the concept of four temperaments are the ‘pre-psychological theorists: Hippocrates; Galen; Avencena; Kant, and the late 19th to mid-century theorists: Adickes; James; Spranger; Kretschmer; Jung and Fromm (Campbell, 2014).
Temperament Theory states that individuals are born with a predisposition to act and interact in certain ways to meet underlying needs. The term “Temperament Styles” was introduced by Keirsey in his seminal book Please Understand Me II (Keirsey, 1998). His publication contains in-depth descriptions of the four Temperaments: Intuitive Feeler (NF), Intuitive Thinker (NT), Sensing Judger (SJ) and Sensing Perceiver (SP).
Personality Dimensions® has added descriptors (as above) that reflect important aspects of each Temperament Style – Authentic Blue (NF), Inquiring Green (NT), Organized Gold (SJ) and Resourceful Orange (SP).
Personality Dimensions® states that we are all a “blend” of the four Temperaments and, although we have a preferred Temperament Style – Core self – other Colours are available to us in varying degrees – Developed self and Contextual self (Berens, 2010).
Since 2004, the author has delivered Personality Dimensions® to the corporate sector, Not-for-profit organisations and universities for multiple applications including: developing leadership cultures which engage employees, team building, developing people skills, improving communication, building relationships; raising awareness of learning and teaching styles; and career development. In 2009, a simplified format of the self-assessment, PD for Youth, was developed by the publishers, at the behest of the author. For the first time, anywhere, PD for Youth was introduced into the level 4 school curriculum (grade 5/6) of Melbourne Metropolitan schools.
At any level of education, Personality Dimensions® can assist students to recognise their learning styles, and to discover their natural skills and talents. It validates students for who they are and can, thereby, build self-worth – the vital component of confidence. Personality Dimensions® can also foster an understanding of others – building empathy and respect. Thus, it lays the foundation for developing two pillars of emotional intelligence: self-awareness and awareness of others.
Over a period of six years, 398 students (in years 5 and 6) and 48 teachers, at seven schools located in the Yarra Ranges, Manningham and Whitehorse Councils, undertook the Personality Dimensions® assessment.
A total of ten workshop programs were facilitated, each with a minimum of 12 students and their respective teachers. Results for a teacher professional development day are included in this study. (Principals results were excluded unless they had direct teaching responsibilities).
||Year of workshop
|Warrandyte Primary S
||2010 & 2011
|Yering, Chum Creek & Gruyere PS
|Wonga Park PS
||2012, 2013, 2014, 2014, 2015
|Anderson Creek PS
|Orchard Grove PS
First preference colours were collated and the percentages of teachers versus students were compared. The table and chart below show the comparisons.
||Authentic Blue (Keirsey – NF) Type 1 – Innovative Learners
||Inquiring Green (Keirsey – NT) Type 2 – Analytic Learners
||Organised Gold (Keirsey – SJ) Type 3 – Common Sense Learners
||Resourceful Orange (Keirsey – SP) Type 4 – Dynamic Learners
This data show an under-representation of both Resourceful Orange and Inquiring Green teachers in these Primary Schools. Authentic Blue and Organised Gold teachers comprise over 80 per cent of teachers. Authentic Blues and Organised Golds have a higher ratio of teachers to students with the same temperament. This is advantageous to their similarly traited students, because the way they teach is the way their temperaments learn.
Each temperament presents special challenges to their non-similarly traited teachers. However, as Resourceful Orange students constituted 46.2 per cent of students, and the ratio of Resourceful Orange teachers to students is grossly disproportionate, the discussion will focus on the ramifications on learning for this cohort, as an example. It is not to be construed that these students are the most difficult to teach or that they require the most adaptation by a non-Resourceful Orange teacher.
Resourceful Orange students are dynamic learners and as such need an active, changing environment. They learn through movement (Robinson & Aronica, 2009) and this is likely to be considered as hyperactivity, by teachers with temperaments whose learning needs are different. They are action and hands-on learners and prefer to be manipulating, operating or making something (Tudor & Konyu, 2011). Sitting at a desk is anathema to them.
A failure to understand the needs of Resourceful Orange students may result in a relatively high number of these students unable to thrive in the conventional school system. Indeed, the author has observed a preponderance of this temperament in disengaged adolescent and young adult clients, whose parents turned to her to provide career counselling for their children. (A study of “at-risk” students would be needed to confirm this observation).
So, how well are teachers of different temperaments able to provide a learning environment which engages Resourceful Orange students?
The Authentic Blue preference endows people with innate temperament traits which enable them to “read others very well and adjust their communication style to meet the situation…. They are intuitive and sensitive to the needs of others… They are empathic and very good at inspiring and motivating others to reach their full potential” (McKim, Detailed Descriptions of the Four Temperaments, 2013). Authentic Blue teachers can mirror others’ behaviour to build rapport, so they are adaptable and able to provide an empathic learning environment for all the other Temperaments.
These Authentic Blue traits were corroborated in a separate adult study conducted by the author (a NeuroPQ® assessor) with Dario Nardi and presented as a concurrent session at the Brisbane AusAPT conference (Riddle & Nardi, 2014). The study, which focused on Personality Dimensions and Emotional Intelligence (EQi), found that Authentic Blues scored high in the EQi cognitive skills areas of the neo-cortex (F7, T4 and T5 and O2) related to “Awareness of Others” and “Managing Others” including: social rapport (they are able to mirror others’ behaviour); intuitive listening; sensitivity to facial expressions and social feedback ( they notice how other people respond to them and adjust their behaviour to aid, conform or appease) and attention to body language (Nardi, 2014).
On the down-side, Authentic Blues are “very concerned about the impact of process” (McKim, Tying it all Together, 2013) and so they tend to give what may be perceived as lengthy explanations. Resourceful Orange students have no time for wordy details and prefer to jump in and get going.
The Organized Golds are caring and concerned with the well-being of others. They show this by being highly organised and efficient. They see rules, procedures and routine as necessary to make things easier for people to understand (McKim, Detailed Descriptions of the Four Temperaments, 2013). However, these very attributes are all key learning stressors for the Resourceful Orange Temperament (Tudor & Konyu, 2011). Organized Golds do things in a particular way and this involves prioritising, planning and having timeframes. Whereas, Resourceful Oranges are multi-taskers – often doing several things at once – and they like to do things in their own way and in their own time. Resourceful Orange students may feel constrained and view the Organized Golds’ approach as “authoritarian” and perceive their feedback as criticism – further learning stressors.
The results of the NeuroPQ study showed that Organized Golds’ scores were weak in the F7 and O2 regions of social rapport and attention to body language, so they may tend to be less intuitively aware of others [than Authentic Blues] so may not see the need to adapt their style to provide learning environments which suit the Resourceful Orange student.
Inquiring Greens are innately curious and focussed on the pursuit of knowledge. They need to “know” and are comfortable when they can explain how and why they “know” (McKim, Detailed Descriptions of the Four Temperaments, 2013). Semantics tend to make Resourceful Orange students phase-out – they prefer action to discussion and analysis (McKim, Tying it all Together, 2013). In addition, Inquiring Greens present information as abstract concepts – a further learning stressor for the Resourceful Orange student (Tudor & Konyu, 2011).
The results of the NeuroPQ study showed that Inquiring Greens were weak in the F7 and O2 regions of social rapport and attention to body language, so they, like Organized Golds, may not instinctively provide learning environments which suit the Resourceful Orange student.
Outcomes of Introduction of Personality Dimensions® into Primary School Curriculum.
In this study, teachers observed the environments which different temperaments valued and which allowed them to work at their best. Teachers reported that seeing their students from a new perspective helped them to better understand their needs, skills and challenges. This enabled them to construct strategies to connect students to their style of learning. They were now able to better plan and develop their lessons so they could appeal to, and engage, each of the temperaments.
Furthermore, teachers commented that “it was great for students to understand their Colours and [validate] how they learn. The students were “now able to use this language of Colour to their advantage” and apply it to achieving their full potential. “This has given them transferable skills and knowledge for the future.”
One Principal reported that “Personality Dimensions® will definitely stick in my head better than others I have done”. A teacher relayed that “None of the other programs I have done were as useful in the classroom as this one.”
Conclusions and Implications
There is a high ratio of Authentic Blue and Organized Gold teachers to their same temperament students, which is advantageous for these students.
The innate traits of Authentic Blue endow them with the ability to adapt to the learning needs of disparate Temperaments. Organized Golds and Inquiring Greens do not have these innate traits.
It is noted that Inquiring Green teachers are largely under-represented in the Primary schools in this study. The effect on Inquiring Green students has not been discussed in this article.
There is a pronounced disparity in the ratio of Resourceful Orange teachers to students of the same Temperament. The implications on learning, for this Temperament, have been discussed, as an example.
Primary school provides the foundation for learning. It is essential that educators have an understanding of the learning needs of the diverse temperaments in order to provide learning environments and strategies that maximise education. An understanding of Introversion and Extraversion preferences is also necessary to meet the participatory needs of the learner. Personality Dimensions® provides a user-friendly approach to help achieve these educational goals.
Awareness is the key. Not all temperaments are able to innately “read” the learning styles of their non-similarly traited students. The author recommends the introduction of Personality Dimensions® into teacher education and professional development. This will enable teachers to expand their toolkit of strategies to maximise the learning experience of all temperaments. Combined PD workshops for teachers and their students can assist teachers to recognise the behaviours of the disparate temperaments and to adjust their communication and teaching styles, accordingly.
Berens, L. (2010). Understanding Yourself and Others: An Introduction to the 4 Temperaments. Huntington Beach, CA: Telos Publications.
Campbell, S. (2014). History of Personality Dimensions. Retrieved from Personality Dimensions CLSR Canada: http://www.personalitydimensions.com/#!history/ckqh
Keirsey, D. (1998). Please Understand Me II. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company.
McCarthy, B. (1980). The 4Mat System: Teaching to Learning Styles with Right/Left Mode Techniques. Barrington, Illinois: Excel Inc. Retrieved from ISBN0-9608992-0-0
McKim, L. (2013). Detailed Descriptions of the Four Temperaments. Personality Dimensions [Facilitator] Manual Ed 2. Concord, Ontario, Canada: Career/Lifeskills Resources Inc.
McKim, L. (2013). Tying it all Together. Personality Dimensions – A Guide for Facilitators Ed 2. Concord, Ontario, Canada: Career/Lifeskills Resources Inc.
Nardi, D. (2014). Cognitive Skills Profile. Neuroscience of Personality: Certification Workshop. Los Angeles, California, USA: Radiance House.
Riddle, C., & Nardi, D. (2014). Leadership Qualities (EQi) for Career Development. AusAPT 11th Bienniel Conference. Brisbane.
Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2009). The Element. New York: Viking.
Tudor, M., & Konyu, L. (2011). Personality Dimensions: A Guide for Facilitators and Teachers. Concord, Ontario, Canada: Career/Lifeskills Resurces Inc.
The author wishes to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of Catherine Gerhardt, Level I Personality Dimensions® facilitator. Cathy was trained and accredited by the author. Her excellent organisation and presentation of the workshops has been a pivotal aspect of this study. Cathy’s diligent collection and reporting of temperament preference statistics has enabled the author to produce this study. http://www.classroomconnections.com.au
The author is grateful for the comprehensive proof-reading and suggestions by Denise Hughes and Julia Bartrim, which have enriched this article.
Cecile Riddle MHealthSc (HRM) LaTrobe; Fellow, Career Development Association of Australia; Member, Australian Association of Personality Type
About the Author
Cecile Riddle is a Coach, Mentor and Learning Facilitator who specialises in developing emotionally intelligent leaders. She is an International Master Trainer of Personality Dimensions® and trains assessors to be internationally certified as Personality Dimensions® Level I facilitators.
For more information: http://www.primeperformance.com.au
This article was first published in the Australian Association of Personality Type Magazine, Summer Ed. 2016