Tools for Self-Assessment (page 3)
We’ve discussed the value of asking other people for input on your strengths and weaknesses. What about other ways of assessing yourself?
A multitude of resources are available, both in print and online, that can furnish insight into your personality and preferences. Keep in mind that these tools can vary in their ease of use as well as their accuracy. Further, you will find some of the more trusted tools cost money. It will be up to you to determine whether such an investment is a smart move for you.
A clear, comprehensive self-assessment is important whether you are an online or an on-ground student. However, self-knowledge can benefit you considerably as an online student.
We are talking about personality not in reference to whether you laugh at jokes or like to have fun but rather in terms of understanding your own mindset and attitudes when it comes to studying and learning.
Do you know your personality type? You can learn about different personality types through a web search or by reading a book on the subject. A typical search on the web using the queries “personality test” or “personality profile” will yield many free tests, and you will find numerous references to the most popular personality test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI; Myers & Briggs Foundations, n.d.).
Isabel Myers Briggs and her mother developed the MBTI over 50 years ago. One of the most trusted assessments in the world, it is grounded in the work of the psychologist C. G. Jung. This assessment evaluates your personality by looking at 16 different indicators, resulting in a scaled differentiation between sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling, introversion and extroversion, and judging and perceiving.
When taking personality assessments, remember they are simply indicators to help you know yourself better. Do not pigeonhole yourself. Rather, think about what the results mean, whether you like what they represent, and if you want to change anything. For example, you may find you are very introverted, and you would like to be more extroverted. You might create a goal of becoming more social by putting yourself in situations where you will have to interact with others. Or perhaps you like being introverted and do not wish to change. Think about how the results relate to being a student, specifically an online student.
Many theorists suggest that humans have multiple intelligences, which indicates that certain components of intelligence align with preferred learning styles: mathematical, visual, physical, musical, verbal, naturist, extroverted, and introverted frames of reference. You may find you are stronger in some areas than in others, and thus this would be your intelligence area. The ideas behind multiple intelligences are grounded in the theories of Howard Gardner (Gardner, 1983).
You have heard people say, “I am not that good at math.” According to these theories, such individuals may not have a high mathematical intelligence. Similarly, if someone can pick up a guitar and immediately play a song, he or she would be said to have a high musical intelligence. What do you enjoy? Do you sing when the radio comes on? Do you like karaoke? Do you prefer to be outdoors hiking?
All of these preferred activities could be pointing to your intelligences. Becoming aware of your intelligences and finding ways to take advantage of them is a way to leverage your strengths.
For example, if you are a nature lover, and you like to be outside, you might find that if you were to purchase a laptop and do your work by the lake, your writing would be much easier and your thought process much more defined. It’s yet another beautiful aspect of online learning.
What about music? How can you incorporate this into studying? Think about how you learned your “ABCs.” It was most likely through singing. You may find if you have musical intelligence, you want to listen to soft music while you work. Or perhaps you can put some complicated material into the lyrics of your favorite song. Determine where your intelligences lie, and then consider how you can use them to be successful in an online environment.
The goal of this section was to make you aware of these assessments and the impact they can have on you. If you are interested in learning more, search on the Internet using keywords such as multiple intelligences, intelligences, and Howard Gardner.
Peak times are when you are at your best and valley times are when you are not. We believe one of the most positive factors in online learning may be just this: the ability to focus your studies during your own peak times.
Certainly there are times you are more productive throughout the day. Pay attention and figure out when those times occur. You can explore the peak/valley concept by completing an exercise and then evaluating whether it was easy for you. If you determine it was more difficult than it should have been, perhaps it was the wrong time of day. The next day, try another exercise at another time of day and see what happens. Were you able to complete the work more easily? It will take some time to track your patterns, but once you figure them out, you will be able to work so much more efficiently. This is another benefit of online learning. You can login to class and study during your peak time, not your valley time.
Peak and valley times can be changeable within the day, month, or year. For example, if you are a morning person, then during the winter your peak time may be much later than in the summer.
Some people characterize peak/valley times as being a “lark” (i.e., alert and productive in the early in the day) or being an “owl” (i.e., alert and productive more in the evening and at night), but that description may be too simplistic. Maybe during the week, when you drink coffee, your peak times are in the morning, but on the weekend, when you sleep in, your peak times are late in the afternoon. Pay attention to these details and know what works best for you, and then capitalize on these times. That is when you will be the best learner possible and thus the most successful student. Being able to take advantage of your peak times fits right into the flexible structure of the online environment.
Ronald Gross is well known for contributing to the concept of peak and valley learning (Gross, 1999). To find more information, search on the Internet using the phrase Gross and peak learning.
The idea of learning styles relates to the way you take in and process information. Some of the most notable learning styles include visual, auditory, and tactile-kinesthetic.
- Visual learners learn best by seeing the teacher, concepts, diagrams, and so on. Visual learners often like to take detailed notes.
- Auditory learners learn best by listening. They like to talk things through and listen to others’ opinions and ideas.
- Tactile-kinesthetic learners learn best by doing, moving, and touching. They learn via using their hands or by incorporating movement into their thinking and study.
You may want to sit back now and think which way you learn best and then consider how this will work in an online environment. If you are a visual learner, how could you best learn online? Perhaps you could print more material and have it available to review.
As an auditory learner, you might read books and messages aloud. You may even consider buying software that will change text to auditory CDs so you could listen to someone reading your book.
As a tactile-kinesthetic learner, you might take ideas and map them on a piece of paper or build constructs of ideas.
Stringers and Groupers
Another learning style that relates to the way you process information is that of the stringer versus the grouper (Hill, 2001). Are you someone who likes to look at the big picture only? Do you tend to see the 40,000-foot view? Or do you like to see all of the details and work your way up?
A person who likes to look at the big picture first and then looks at the details is called a grouper. This type of person may begin a class by thinking about all of the assignments from a global perspective and then may consider each minute detail. Notice we say “may.” Groupers sometimes don’t see as many of the details as they should.
A stringer is a person who looks at each detail and does not see the bigger picture until the end. This type of person looks at each detail of each assignment and may not see how they all fit together. Notice we say “may.” Stringers may never see the bigger picture.
Either style can take you where you want to go. And you can learn how to make your style work the best way for you. But to be a successful student, you need to be a little of both. You are going to have to stretch yourself and leave your comfort zone. If you are a grouper, you must learn to look at each detail or you may miss something of great importance. If you are a stringer, you want to look at the big picture to assure you understand how the assignments fit together. Curriculum is often constructed in such a way that the concepts build on one another. It will be helpful to you to notice and understand this structure.
It can be useful to find out the learning styles of your friends. You may find that you know several people with different styles from yours. They do say opposites attract! You can help each other along the way.
Applying Self-Assessment Information
Self-assessments can be fun and interesting, but they are most helpful if you listen to the feedback and use it to plan how you can become a more efficient and effective learner.
Remember, you do not want to pigeonhole yourself or to become frustrated with what you discover from these assessments. When you feel discouraged, realize you may be out of the comfort zone that is your learning style or your personality paradigm. Keep in mind that experiencing this discomfort can be the start of the process of learning and changing, if you choose to take advantage of it.
You will need to continue to evaluate what you can do to help enable your own success.
© ______ 2009, Prentice Hall, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- Problems With Standardized Testing