An investigation of some relationships between learning and personality

Robertson, Ivan Tony (1977). An investigation of some relationships between learning and personality. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000fc8e

Abstract

This study attempted to examine relationships between certain indices of learning style and efficiency and some aspects of personality. The methods adopted involved detailed study of a small sample of students (N = 14), learning a large and complex body of subject matter.

Four main indices of learning were studied.

1) Appreciation Span: the extent to which a learner planned ahead
2) Exploration: the extent to which a learner requested an outline of topics that he did not yet understand.
3) Errors: the extent to which a learner made mistakes when asked to explain topics that he had learned about.
4) Route taken: the extent to which a learner chose a wide range of topics to work on and extended his knowledge on a broad front, or confined his learning to a narrower 'in depth' study of one area at a time.

Hypotheses concerning appreciation span, exploration and errors focused on possible interrelationships between these variables, extraversion-introversion and associated characteristics. The results indicated no relationships between the distance ahead that students planned, the amount of exploration that they engaged in and extraversion-introversion. Possible explanations and implications of the results are discussed.

Hypotheses derived from previous work suggesting that extraverts have greater tolerance of ambiguity than introverts and thus make fewer errors when learning in unstructured, ambiguous situations were supported by the data.

A detailed theoretical discussion of attention deployment is presented and followed by an empirical examination of the extent to which the students studied developed their understanding on a broad or narrow front. Hypotheses concerning the relationships between this learning style characteristic and attention deployment, cognitive complexity and flexibility in problem-solving were supported by the data; indicating positive relationships between a "breadth-first' learning style, wide (or diffuse) attention deployment, a high level of cognitive complexity and a flexible approach to problem-solving.

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