We have secured rights from the North Carolina State University, to offer a psychometric assessment to learners, for FREE.

We have adapted the original test and call it The Entrepreneurial Propensity Index (EPI) and it comprises 44 questions, which should be completed by each learner. Upon completion, each individual’s result will be returned on-screen, at no cost.

As a teacher, trainer or instructor, you may want your entire class to complete the on-line questionnaire. Each individual’s details will be entered into a database and the raw results will be downloaded and e-mailed to you, in Excel spreadsheet format.

You may then manipulate the data to see how many are for example, visual learners, how many prefer experiential learning, or are strongly intuitive etc. This function is also useful for teaching elective classes (eg. physics, office administration) so that you can determine the main style of your group. Descriptions of each learning styles are provided below. If you require a more detailed article, we will e-mail it to you.

Please e-mail us to info@eduthink.co.za if you wish to receive details of your learners. We are happy to provide the information for free and thank the advertisers for making it possible.

The EPI test and the materials on which it is based, is considered the property of NCSU: Copyright (2002-2003) by North Carolina State University, All Rights Reserved.

We thank NCSU for allowing free access to this proven test, for Southern African learners.

sailstest
 

Explanations of the various dimensions of the test are provided below. Please click on the respective title for more detailed explanation.

Active-Reflective Students

The complex mental processes by which perceived information is converted into knowledge can be conveniently grouped into two categories: active experimentation and reflective observation.

Active experimentation involves doing something in the external world with the information—discussing it or explaining it or testing it in some way—and reflective observation involves examining and manipulating the information introspectively. An “active learner” is someone who feels more comfortable with, or is better at, active experimentation than reflective observation, and conversely for a reflective.

The active learner and the reflective learner are closely related to the extravert and introvert, respectively, of the Jung-Myers-Briggs model.1 The active learner also has much in common with the kinesthetic learner of the modality and neurolinguistic programming literature. There are indications that engineers are more likely to be active than reflective learners.

Active learners do not learn much in situations that require them to be passive (such as most lectures), and reflective learners do not learn much in situations that provide no opportunity to think about the information being presented (such as most lectures). Active learners work well in groups; reflective learners work better by themselves or with at most one other person. Active learners tend to be experimentalists; reflective learners tend to be theoreticians. At first glance there appears to be a considerable overlap between active learners and sensors, both of whom are involved in the external world of phenomena, and between reflective learners and intuitors, both of whom favor the internal world of abstraction.The categories are independent, however.

The sensor preferentially selects information available in the external world but may process it either actively or reflectively, in the latter case by postulating explanations or interpretations, drawing analogies, or formulating models. Similarly, the intuitor selects information generated internally but may process it reflectively or actively, in the latter case by setting up an experiment to test out the idea or trying it out on a colleague. The opposite of active is passive, not reflective, with both terms referring to the nature of student participation in class. “Active” signifies that students do something in class beyond simply listening and watching, e.g., discussing, questioning, arguing, brainstorming, or reflecting. Active student participation thus encompasses the learning processes of active experimentation and reflective observation. A class in which students are always passive is a class in which neither the active experimenter nor the reflective observer can learn effectively. Unfortunately, most engineering classes fall into this category. As is true of all the other learning style dimensions, both active and reflective learners are needed as engineers. The reflective observers are the theoreticians, the mathematical modelers, the ones who can define the problems and propose possible solutions. The active experimenters are the ones who evaluate the ideas, design and carry out the experiments, and find the solutions that work—the organizers, the decision-makers. How to teach both active and reflective learners: Primarily, the instructor should alternate lectures with occasional pauses for thought(reflective) and brief discussion or problem-solving activities (active), and should present material that emphasizes both practical problem solving(active) and fundamental understanding(reflective). An exceptionally effective technique for reaching active learners is to have students organize themselves at their seats in groups of three or four and periodically come up with collective answers to questions posed by the instructor. The groups may be given from 30 seconds to five minutes to do so, after which the answers are shared and discussed for as much or as little time as the instructor wishes to spend on the exercise. Besides forcing thought about the course material, such brainstorming exercises can indicate material that students don’t understand; provide a more congenial classroom environment than can be achieved with a formal lecture; and involve even the most introverted students, who would never participate in a full class discussion. One such exercise lasting no more than five minutes in the middle of a lecture period can make the entire period a stimulating and rewarding educational experience.

Sensing-Intuitive Dimension

In his theory of psychological types, Carl Jung introduced sensing and intuition as the two ways in which people tend to perceive the world. Sensing involves observing, gathering data through the senses; intuition involves indirect perception by way of the unconscious—speculation, imagination, hunches. Everyone uses both faculties, but most people tend to favor one over the other.

In the 1940s Isabel Briggs Myers developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), an instrument that measures, among other things, the degree to which an individual prefers sensing or intuition. In the succeeding decades the MBTI has been given to hundreds of thousands of people and the resulting profiles have been correlated with career preferences and aptitudes, management styles, learning styles, and various behavioral tendencies. The characteristics of intuitive and sensing types and the different ways in which sensors and intuitors approach learning have been studied. Sensors like facts, data, and experimentation; intuitors prefer principles and theories. Sensors like solving problems by standard methods and dislike “surprises”; intuitors like innovation and dislike repetition. Sensors are patient with detail but do not like complications; intuitors arebored by detail and welcome complications. Sensors are good at memorizing facts; intuitors are good at grasping new concepts. Sensors are careful but may be slow; intuitors arequick but may be careless. These characteristics are tendencies of the two types, not invariable behavior patterns: any individual—even a strong sensor or intuitor—may manifest signs of either type on any given occasion.

An important distinction is that intuitors are more comfortable with symbols than are sensors. Since words are symbols, translating them into what they represent comes naturally to intuitors and is a struggle for sensors. Sensors’ slowness in translating words puts them at a disadvantage in timed tests: since they may have to read questions several times before beginning to answer them, they frequently run out of time. Intuitors may also do poorly on timed tests but for a different reason—their impatience with details may induce them to start answering questions before they have read them thoroughly and to make careless mistakes. Most engineering courses other than laboratories emphasize concepts rather than facts and use primarily lectures and readings (words, symbols) to transmit information, and so favor intuitive learners. Several studies show that most professors are themselves intuitors. On the other hand, the majority of engineering students are sensors, suggesting a serious learning/teaching style mismatch inmost engineering courses. The existence of the mismatch is substantiated by Godleski who found that in both chemical and electrical engineering courses intuitive students almost invariably got higher grades than sensing students. The one exception was a senior course in chemical process design and cost estimation, which the author characterizes as a “solid sensing course” (i.e. one that involves facts and repetitive calculations by well defined procedures as opposed to many new ideas and abstract concepts).While sensors may not perform as well as intuitors in school, both types are capable of becoming fine engineers and are essential to engineering practice. Many engineering tasks require the awareness of surroundings, attentiveness to details, experimental thoroughness, and practicality that are the hallmarks of sensors; many other tasks require the creativity, theoretical ability, and talent at inspired guesswork that characterize intuitors. To be effective, engineering education should reach both types, rather than directing itself primarily to intuitors.

The material presented should be a blend of concrete information(facts, data, observable phenomena) and abstract concepts(principles, theories, mathematicalmodels). The two teaching styles that correspond to the sensing and intuitive learning styles are therefore called concrete and abstract. Specific teaching methods that effectively address the educational* Concrete experience and abstract conceptualization are two poles of alearning style dimension in Kolb’s experiential learning model that are closely related to sensing and intuition. needs of sensors and intuitors are listed in the summary.

Visual-Auditory Dimension

The ways people receive informationmay be divided into three categories, sometimes referred to as modalities: visual—sights, pictures, diagrams, symbols; auditory— sounds, words; kinesthetic—taste, touch, and smell. An extensive body of research has established that most people learn most effectively with one of the three modalities and tend to miss or ignore information presented in either of the other two. There are thus visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Visual learners remember best what they see: pictures, diagrams, flowcharts, time lines, films, demonstrations. If something is simply said to them they will probably forget it. Auditory learners remember much of what they hear and more of what they hear and then say. They get a lot out of discussion, prefer verbal explanation to visual demonstration, and learn effectively by explaining things to others. Most people of college age and older are visual while most college teaching is verbal—the information presented is predominantly auditory(lecturing) or a visual representation of auditory information (words and mathematical symbols written in texts and handouts, on transparencies, or on a chalkboard). A second learning/teaching style mismatch thus exists,* Visual and auditory learning both have to do with the component of the learning process in which information is perceived, while kinesthetic learning involves both information perception(touching, tasting, smelling) and information processing (moving, relating, doing something active while learning). As noted previously, the perception-related aspects of kinesthetic learning are at best marginally relevant to engineering education; accordingly, only visual and auditory modalities are addressed in this section. The processing components of the kinesthetic modality are included in the active/reflective learning style category.

This one between the preferred input modality of most students and the preferred presentation mode of most professors. Irrespective of the extent of the mismatch, presentations that use both visual and auditory modalities reinforce learning for all students. The point is made by a study carried out by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company that concludes that students retain 10 percent of what they read, 26 percent of what they hear, 30percent of what they see, 50 percent of what they see and hear, 70 percent of what they say, and 90 percent of what they say as they do something. How to teach both visual and auditory learners: Few engineering instructors would have to modify what they usually do in order to present information auditorily: lectures accomplish this task. What must generally be added to accommodate all students is visual material—pictures, diagrams, sketches. Process flowcharts, network diagrams, and logic or information flow charts should be used to illustrate complex processes or algorithms; mathematical functions should be illustrated by graphs; and films or live demonstrations of working processes should be presented whenever possible.

Linear and Global Learners

Linear and Global Learners Most formal education involves the presentation of material in a logically ordered progression, with the pace of Global learners should be given the freedom to devise their own methods of solving problems rather than being forced to adopt the professor’s strategy, and they should be exposed periodically to advanced concepts before these concepts would normally be introduced. learning dictated by the clock and the calendar. When a body of material has been covered the students are tested on their mastery and then move to the next stage. Some students are comfortable with this system; they learn linearly, mastering the material more or less as it is presented. Others, however, cannot learn in this manner. They learn in fits and starts: they may be lost for days or weeks, unable to solve even the simplest problems or show the most rudimentary understanding, until suddenly they “get it”—the lightbulb flashes, the jigsaw puzzle comes together. They may then understand the material well enough to they apply it to problems that leave most of the linear learners baffled. These are the global learners.

Linear learners follow linear reasoning processes when solving problems; global learners make intuitive leaps and may be unable to explain how they came up with solutions. Linear learners can work with material when they understand it partially or superficially, while global learners may have great difficulty doing so. Linear learners may be strong in convergent thinking and analysis; global learners may be better at divergent thinking and synthesis. Linear learners learn best when material is presented in a steady progression of complexity and difficulty; global learners sometimes do better by jumping directly to more complex and difficult material. School is often a difficult experience for global learners. Since they do not learn in a steady or predictable manner they tend to feel out-of-step with their fellow students and incapable of meeting the expectations of their teachers. They may feel stupid when they are struggling to master material with which most of their contemporaries seem to have little trouble. Some eventually become discouraged with education and dropout. However, global learners are the last students who should be lost to higher education and society. They are the synthesizers, the multidisciplinary researchers, the systems thinkers, the ones who see the connections no one else sees. They can be truly outstanding engineers—if they survive the educational process. How to teach global learners: Everything required to meet the needs of linear learners is already being done from first grade through graduate school: curricula are linear, course syllabi are linear, textbooks are linear, and most teachers teach linearly. To reach the global learners in a class, the instructor should provide the big picture or goal of a lesson before presenting the steps, doing as much as possible to establish the context and relevance of the subject matter and to relate it to the students’ experience. Applications and “what ifs” should be liberally furnished. The students should be given the freedom to devise their own methods of solving problems rather than being forced to adopt the professor’s strategy, and they should be exposed periodically to advanced concepts before these concepts would normally be introduced.

A particularly valuable way for instructors to serve the global learners in their classes, as well as the linear learners, is to assign creativity exercises—problems that involve generating alternative solutions and bringing in material from other courses or disciplines—and to encourage students who show promise in solving them. Another way to support global learners is to explain their learning process to them. While they are painfully aware of the draw backs of their learning style, it is usually a revelation to them that they also enjoy advantages—that their creativity and breadth of vision can be exceptionally valuable to future employers and to society. If they can be helped to understand how their learning process works, they may become more comfortable with it, less critical of themselves for having it, and more positive about education in general. If they are given the opportunity to display their unique abilities and their efforts are encouraged in school, the chances of their developing and applying those abilities later in life will be substantially increased.

Teaching Techniques to Address All Learning Styles

  • Motivate learning. As much as possible, relate the material being presented to what has come before and what is still to come in the same course, to material in other courses, and particularly to the students’ personal experience (inductive/global).
  • Provide a balance of concrete information (facts, data, real or hypothetical experiments and their results) (sensing) and abstract concepts (principles, theories, mathematical models) (intuitive).• Balance material that emphasizes practical problem-solving methods (sensing/active) with material that emphasizes fundamental understanding (intuitive/reflective)>
  • Provide explicit illustrations of intuitive patterns (logical inference, pattern recognition, generalization) and sensing patterns (observation of surroundings, empirical experimentation, attention to detail), and encourage all students to exercise both patterns (sensing/intuitive). Do not expect either group to be able to exercise the other group’s processes immediately.
  • Follow the scientific method in presenting theoretical material. Provide concrete examples of the phenomena the theory describes or predicts (sensing/ inductive); then develop the theory or formulate the mod(intuitive/inductive/ sequential);show how the theory can be validated and deduce its consequences (deductive/sequential); and present applications (sensing/deductive/sequential).
  • Use pictures, schematics, graphs, and simple sketches liberally before, during, and after the presentation of verbal material (sensing/visual).
  • Show films (sensing/visual.)
  • Provide demonstrations (sensing/visual), hands-on, if possible (active).
  • Use computer-assisted instruction—sensors respond very well to it (sensing/active).
  • Do not fill every minute of class time lecturing and writing on the board. Provide intervals—however brief—for students to think about what they have been told (reflective).
  • Provide opportunities for students to do something active besides transcribing notes. Small-group brainstorming activities that take no more than five minutes are extremely effective for this purpose (active).
  • Assign some drill exercises to provide practice in the basic methods being taught (sensing/active/sequential) but do not overdo them (intuitive/reflective/ global). Also provide some open-ended problems and exercises that call for analysis and synthesis (intuitive/reflective/global).
  • Give students the option of cooperating on homework assignments to the greatest possible extent (active). Active learners generally learn best when they interact with others; if they are denied the opportunity to do so they are being deprived of their most effective learning tool.
  • Applaud creative solutions, even incorrect ones (intuitive/global).
  • Talk to students about learning styles, both in advising and in classes. Students are reassured to find their academic difficulties may not all be due to personal inadequacies. Explaining to struggling sensors or active or global learners how they learn most efficiently may be an important step in helping them reshape their learning experiences so that they can be successful (all types).
Explanation of Four Different Learning Styles taken from:
Richard M. Felder, North Carolina State University Linda K. Silverman, Institute for the Study of Advanced Development
[Engr. Education, 78(7), 674–681 (1988)]
*Minor changes have been to the extracts to increase accessibility to South African educators.