How to make Learning relevant for all types
by Susan Nash
Most research available emphasizes that if you want participants to learn, then it is important to use Active Learning principles. As Type Practitioners, this might present a challenge, as the content we are presenting on psychological type tends to be quite theoretical. So, in this brief article I will describe the stages in Active Learning and then introduce a tool that can facilitate this process when teaching Type to enable participants to integrate and apply type knowledge.
Steps in Active Learning
An important way to become more effective in teaching is to develop ways to engage several regions of the cerebral cortex in learning. Educator and biologist Zull (2002) proposed a Learning Cycle that links the breakthrough work of Kolb (1981) on experiential learning with neuroscientific research. The cycle begins with Gathering Information, followed by Reflection, Creation and Active Testing. Each step of the cycle is associated with a different region of the brain and this knowledge provides a useful way to increase learning and retention by designing learning events to incorporate these stages
The first part of the Learning Cycle involves Gathering Information. This step engages the sensory cortices, which receive input from the outside world in the form of vision, hearing, movement, touch, position, smell and taste. These cortices are where the brain first records concrete experience so the more senses we can engage the better,
Reflection, the second part of the cycle, engages the temporal lobe. During reflection, the brain integrates the sensory information received during the gathering stage. Reflection is inherently private—it happens within the Learner and requires time and space for Learners to pause and digest.
As connections are being made by reflective thinking, learners start the process of creating new ideas and solving problems. Creation is the point in the Learning Cycle at which the learner shifts from receiving and absorbing information to creating knowledge in the form of abstractions such as ideas, plans, concepts and symbolic representations.
Active Testing is a physical process that engages the motor cortex. It allows the brain to make the abstract concrete by converting mental ideas into physical events. Any action inspired by ideas qualifies as Active Testing: reading another book on the topic; talking to someone about the book; explaining and talking about what was learned; hearing what someone else thinks; researching the topic on the web; seeking out people who live the topic and talking to them; setting up experiments to test, and completing activities in a workshop.
You can see how this process might work in learning to use a new computer program – say Google documents after having experience using Word. In the Gathering Information phase you will probably want some information, read some reference sources, and most importantly try out tactically the new program to understand what it does in what ways. In Reflection, you will probably think back to other documents you have created and think about how you created specific formatting in these documents. In the Creation phase, you will prpobably work out how the new program differs from the old and consider ways to achieve the look and feel you require. Finally, in Active Testing, you will probably try out these new techniques to expore which work and which need to be adapted. This process can be very quick.
Tools to Facilitate Active Learning: Card Activities
I use many experiential learning approaches to complement how the brain works when introducing type to audiences, including team exercises, case studies, Open Space exercises, personal reflection, games and Jigsaw Learning.
My favourite technique is the use of Card Activities. Content on cards can be pre-prepared and used to check knowledge (which category does ____ fit into), raise awareness (sort cards in a specific way) and teach content (match the following statements). I also have put questions onto cards to stimulate discussion at the beginning or end of a section or program. Finally, I use cards minimally to divide the group into smaller teams (e.g. all cards with triangles get together) or pairs (matching cards with opposites e.g. hot/cold).
Because people have to “touch” the cards, they make any session more hands-on and experiential. They also access our background experience as children/adults with card games and can make any subject feel more active.
I use Card Activities to teach Temperament, Interaction Style, Cognitive Process or preferences in the following way:
- Identify key attributes for each model (Temperament, Interaction Style, Cognitive Process or Preference) For instance for Temperament, you might select Needs, Values, Talents, Time Orientation, etc.
- It is important to make sure there are always equal numbers of each attribute for each model for balanced understanding.
- Create one header card per model (so for Temperament – Improviser, Stabilizer, Theorist and Catalyst.)
- List one attribute for each model on each card.
- Number the cards in such a way that when they are in numerical order they are mixed-up and ready to use.
- Teams of approximately 4-5 people are each given a card set and asked to sort which attributes they believe fit under which category (For Temperament – Improviser, Stabilizer, etc.)
- Prepare a Facilitator “master set” in the correct sequence for debriefing. Make sure also that the correct answers are in a handout and/or on a slide.
- Encourage individuals to write down the correct answers learned from the cards to ensure active learning.
Benefits of this Cards in Teaching Type
The advantages of using Cards in this way are:
- Participants engage multiple senses in learning: talking, listening, movement, observation and this process maximizes the Data Gathering stage in learning.
- In sorting cards, participants have the opportunity to Reflect and Create their own understanding by discussing answers and moving the cards around.
- In checking whether the cards are laid out accurately, participants have the opportunity to Actively Test their knowledge.
- In addition, cards appeal to all types for the following reasons:
- Improvisers like cards because there is a physicality and implied challenge in getting the correct answer.
- Stabilizers like cards because there is a consistent method, structure and correct right/wrong answer.
- Theorists like cards because, used in the way described above, they use the theory of parallel construction; for each Temperament, each attribute is represented.
- Catalysts like cards because they stimulate a meaningful understanding of differences.
- In addition, cards stimulate a social yet psychologically safe learning environment that is proved to aid retention.
- For many, this means they enjoy the process, learn faster, retain the information with ease and are more easily convinced that this model is valid.
So as you can see, it is possible to make theoretical concepts, such as psychological type, more interactive and reduce lecture-based presentation of data. Cards use the principles of Active Learning while also capitalizing on how the brain works.
You can see this technique and many other experiential learning activities in action at the FREE bonus session for attendees of the BAPT Conference on Thursday April 11, 2019 from 10:00 – 12:00 a.m. See this Event page for more information.
About Susan Nash
Susan is owner of EM-Power, Inc. author of over 11 books, nine on Whole Type, and a global speaker on psychological type and its applications in improving self-understanding, communication, leadership and team effectiveness. She has been a President of APTi, is the winner of the 2017 APTi President’s award, and is on the Board of Trustees for BAPT as Director of Events.