This article was written by Jen Lilienstein and originally published on LessonPlanet

As new brain research permeates educational insights, we are becoming increasingly aware that engagement and affectivity – long key components of many pedagogical constructs – are now being proven to have direct links to maximizing understanding and retention. In short, affective education is the most effective education, which is what project-based learning models aim to capitalize upon.

Project-based learning (PBL) is defined by pbl-online.org as:

An instructional approach built upon authentic learning activities that engage student interest and motivation. These activities are designed to answer a question or solve a problem and generally reflect the types of learning and work people do in the everyday world outside the classroom.

Oftentimes when educators try to design curriculum that fits PBL models, they create student groups in ways that are either random or based on ability levels, instead of by personality dynamics. By focusing instead on grouping learners and showcasing innate talents by various temperament-based strengths, you can allow each of your students to better emotionally connect with both the learning and each other.

The 16 Habits of Mind

One effective way of integrating personality into group segments is to look toward Costa & Kallick’s 16 Habits of Mind, which is based on their analysis of the dispositions of successful sports and business people and how they solve problems. When comparing Jung’s eight cognitive processes to these habits, you reveal direct links to temperament-based strengths. Jung’s cognitive processes, which form the foundation of Myers-Briggs personality types, are as follows:

Why Weave These Three Ideas Together?

The goals of Project Based Learning (PBL), the 16 Habits of Mind, and personality type are all to help students develop the skills that they will need to be successful in the years beyond school. Here are some ways that setting up PBL opportunities with this framework will help your learners:

  • Reveal their own strengths and weaknesses
  • Learn how to effectively interact and collaborate with others
  • Respect the unique strengths and perspectives that other team members bring to the project

The following paragraphs highlight through the lens of the 16 Habits of Mind why it’s important to blend as many personality types together in project teams as possible, rather than building teams randomly or solely based on ability level.

Why It Is Important to Blend Personality Types

  1. Questioning & Posing Problems: Your extraverts will naturally key into problems as they see them in the present tense (or immediate future) and will think out loud, while your introverts will add richness with what’s happened historically or universal themes, but it may take them a bit longer to speak up. Each temperament has a different approach to problem solv
  2. Apply Past Knowledge to New Situations as Groups Establish Timelines: A great place for judging personalities to shine in breakout groups and show how they can effectively manage their time.
  3. Listening with Understanding and Empathy: Having extraverted feelers on a team will ensure that the group has a collaborative atmosphere, while including introverted feelers will help learners stay in touch with humanitarian or values-based reasons why the lesson is important.
  4. Gathering Data: A great way for sensors to shine with respect to data points, and thinkers to shine with respect to establishing data sets.
  5. Responding With Wonderment and Awe: When you’ve got a variety of temperaments in the group, each person will be thrilled with different aspects of the data that they’re collecting. This allows the whole group to see realizations through new eyes and add new layers of wonderment and awe to what they are discovering.
  6. Taking Responsible Risks and
  7. Persisting: A great way for perceivers to make sure that all possibilities are being explored and that the group doesn’t jump to conclusions too quickly.
  8. Creating, Imagining, and Innovating: Intuitives in your class will shine in this project phase and make sure that data is analyzed in a way that explores a multitude of meanings. This said, the rest of the group members will delight in following the lead of the intuitives if you can help them key into what matters most to them.
  9. Thinking Interdependently and 10. Managing Impulsivity: While extraverts may seem to be more proficient in the thinking interdependently realm during the discussion phase about what the group learned, your introverts will shine at managing impulsivity, then weaving together the group’s conclusions in a thoughtful and deliberately written format following discussion.
  10. Thinking Flexibly: Inevitably, the group will hit some snags related to the original timeline. This is when your perceivers in the group can step up with their gift for adaptability and the ways in which they are energized by looming deadlines and recommend ways in which the timeline could shift to still hit the assignment deadline.
  11. Thinking and Communicating With Clarity and Precision: The feelers and thinkers in the group can help make sure that the final draft of an assignment clearly communicates both opinions and viewpoints based on affect (feelers) and observations based on effect (thinkers).
  12. Striving for Accuracy: The perfect place for your sensors to shine, these scholars will make sure i’s are dotted, t’s are crossed and their team’s submission aces your rubric.
  13. Metacognition, 15. Remaining Open to Continuous Learning and 16. Finding Humor: When teams are built with a myriad of personality types and the instructor highlights the strengths of each group member’s innate disposition, it gives all students the opportunity to see the problem from various perspectives, really think about their thinking, and become aware of how important it is to remain open to continuous learning because individual perceptions do vary widely. And because each team member is being respected and acknowledged for the strengths they bring to the group, there will be more camaraderie and room for humor throughout the duration of the task.

In conclusion, developing long-term project teams with as much personality variance as possible sets the stage for a classroom with more camaraderie because every child has an opportunity to shine and relationships can be built on respect for each of the team member’s strengths. As you monitor team learning, be sure to identify and praise the strategies, efforts, and attitudes that you see from team members in these various areas (Dweck 2006). By doing so, you’ll be raising the emotional response to learning in ALL of your students when you key into their learning strengths. Most importantly, however, the more exposure your pupils get to how different psychological types tackle the Habits of Mind and strategies that work for their peers, the better prepared they will be for success when they move from classroom to career.

Reference: Dweck, Carol. 2006. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

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Project Based Learning, Personality Type, and the 16 Habits of Mind