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Why do we make curricular choices?

What are the differences in groups of students?

How do we explain students making choices such as dropping out, taking elective courses, getting involved in activities, feeling satisfied with their school environment?

Determining differences among contrasting school samples has been the object of much research and conjecture over the years . Although most of the "learning styles" and cognitive research has focused on assessing individual students for the purposes of helping them and their teachers provide the optimal learning environment for their needs. While this application is valid if not critical, a broader understanding of learning style patterns on a systemic level seems necessary. As schools continue the trend toward becoming ever more tailored to different needs and types of students, the issue around defining these populations will become more .

One such approach to defining systematic difference in the area of learning is with dimensions of psychological or perceptual type (Jung, 1923). Although this approach is the object of a great deal of debate (Pittenger, 1991), the information that can be obtained by the knowledge of these demises has compelling educational merit. Presently there are tests that in effect measure two of the Jungian dimensions to some degree (Kolb, 1976; Gregorc, 1978), and the Myers- Briggs Temperament Sorter that measures all four, but has the disadvantage of being written with adult content and vocabulary that does not perform well with school age subjects. Other efforts at a student version have been disappointing (Murphy & Meisgeier, 1987).

Construct validity as well as reliability seem to be the major reasons for hesitation with the use of the four dimension instruments. Research seems to be mixed but there is some reason to question the implicit claim of bimodality. If in fact the ends of each dimension are opposed with most people falling on "one side of the fence" or the other, the shape of the distributions should be bimodal. This has been both supported (Myers, 1979; 1985) and found unsupported (Stricker & Ross, 1962; Hicks, 1984). There also seems to be a suggestion that the degree to which one falls on one side of the scale or the other is related to achievement (Meisgeier, 1988).

The four dimension model is also criticized for the construct problem with the assumption of independence of scales, especially the Intuitive/sensate and the judger/perceiver scales (Sipps, 1985). This was a problem with the Murphy - Meisgeier Temperament Indicator. This effect seems to be related to the age of the subject. The younger the subject the more likely there will be a lack of independence (Pittenger, 1991). This has been a problematic issue with the attempted construction of a student four dimension test.

Groups with distinct characteristics have been shown to behave differently in their distribution in relation to a normative distribution on the four dimensions or sixteen types. Creative types and "gifted" students typically show elevations on introversion and intuition, and to a lesser extent their perceiver score (Conary 1965; Myers 1985).

There has long been the assumption that most dropouts and problem students come from the extroverted with sensate combination, which is labeled the "kinesthetic" type by Barbe (1979) when referring to learning modalities. Myers (1980) writes, "But the extroverted children with sensing, the ES-- pupils, who make only minimal use of either intuition or introversion, may find the symbols so confusing that they become discouraged about the whole business of going to school. They may even decide hopelessly or defiantly, that school is not for them."(p. ) This perspective is prevalent in the education system. On one hand, IN types as a whole do go farther in school with more academic success (Myers, 1985), but there seems to be an assumption that makes people like and stay in school has to do solely with academic success, and that schools are about sitting and taking-in static information. The complex issues of why school works or does not work for students may be too simplistically conceived.

There has been little research found in the area of cultural difference in the functioning of the Jungian dimension tests. This may be in part due to the difficulty in separating the cultural differences from the macro personality differences that characterize any subgroup, and it may be due to the sensitivity of the whole venture. This study will attempt to look at the differential functioning in light of culture, although it is not designed such that it can draw any strong conclusions. This would be a worthy future focus in this area of study.




Groups represented three different school populations. Subjects were taken from three settings within thirty miles of a major Northwest city. 61 student subjects were tested from an Alternative High school located in lower economic level Urban setting. Subjects were selected as they registered and were admitted for a required Health Education Course. Subjects were 96% nonwhite minority students (72% black) who had voluntarily opted, or been placed as a "last chance" into this particular urban alternative school. The school was characterized by its individual attention and individualized pace of work and its near homogeneous population. The subject population represents all admitted students. The students included 34 males, and 27 females. Students ranged from 14 to 19 years old.

The second set of subjects (N=70) was selected at a randomly selected location within a suburban school district, and contained all students enrolled in band courses at the particular middle school. The students included 37 females and 33 males. Students ranged from 13 years old to 15.

The third sample (N=100) was unsystematically selected from three school districts in the vicinity of the city. The students represented randomly selected students ask to complete the test including the verification forms, on site, during the school period. This sample included a balanced frequency of students from 10 years to 17 years old, and was equally split by gender, 50 females, and 50 males.


The instrument used was the Paragon Temperament and Learning style Indicator (version 3.2). It consists of a 36 item, four dimension self-report survey, and two interpretive and verificative documents. All 36 items on the inventory are forced choice "A" or "B", questions, with the option of an "X" answer where one could not decide.

The test intended to measure the four dimensions of Jungian personality as indicators of learning style. The four dimensions were considered independent and measured with equal weight. The first dimension is introversion/extroversion. This scale indicates the degree to which one's ego emerges into the group and the orientation toward perception style. The second dimension is that of sensation/intuition. This scale measures what is commonly held in the field as abstraction vs. concreteness, as well as cognitive style considerations. The third dimension is that of thinker/feeler. This dimension in the educational setting is most concerned with how students approach conflict or fragmentation. Do they prefer harmony or delineation? The fourth scale is that of judger/perceiver. It contains what is commonly held as the random vs. sequential duality, as well as open vs. decisive tendencies.

Subjects are given the directions to answer as quickly and honestly as possible, and reminded there are no right answers. After completion, scores can be tallied by the subject as the answer sheet is arranged in columns and can be easily summed in each category.

Because the primary function of the application of the instrument was to give students an accurate indication of type, the interpretive documents were used to verify the type obtained by the survey, and make adjustment when necessary (but adjustment was rare, giving an informal indicator of reliability).


In the Urban Alternative group all testing was done on an individual basis as students entered the course throughout the semester. Each subject was given standard directions before they were given the test. As with all groups an administrator was present during testing to answer questions about any practical subject considerations or problems. Upon completion of the items each subject was given an individual consultation about what their score meant, as well as a verification of the score obtained from the survey and the categories they identified with on the dimensional comparison, and the combination comparison forms.

In the Band classes, testing was done in whole classes with the entire class being given instructions, and interpretation at once. Testing was done during three separate class periods of fifty minutes, with the entire group taking part in all three cases.

In the Sample group testing was done in small groups and with individuals. Again standard directions were given and surveys were completed with an administrator near by to answer questions regarding technical aspects of completing the test. Scores were totaled in most cases by the subject, and in some cases by the administrator.

Uniformity of testing was considered adequate since directions were both given in writing on the test sheets and were given by administrators. Also, post-testing verification and consultation was not considered in the data, so differences there are cannot be analyzed.


Analysis was performed in three areas. First, item response p values were compared across groups. Second, an exploratory principle components factor analysis was performed on the entire sample, as well as each of the groups for the use of comparison. Third, group type distributions were compared in light of their observed as well as expected differences in relation to each the four dimensions as well as the sixteen-type overall distribution structure.

The instrument as a whole was additionally analyzed in light of its factor analytic properties. Strength on items, and dimensions, as well as independence was of particular interest.



bulletFactor Analysis

The instrument was analyzed using a principle components exploratory factor analysis. The factors were rotated using a verimax rotation with 4 designated factors. When the whole group (N=230) was factored in, the scales performed very well. 27 of the 36 items loaded at .50 or higher. The range was .26 to .73. All items except one factored highest on their prescribed scale. Independence was concluded for the four scales and 33 of the 36 items. Only three items seemed to lack strong independent loading (two from the N/S factor, and one from the T/F factor).

When the urban group was factored, the interpretation and analysis were confounded by the small sample (N=61). This may in part explain the lack of independence of scales two and four. The Extrovert/Introvert scale did emerge to a satisfactory degree. Seven of the nine items loaded sufficiently on the factor (ranging from .30 to .51). The Thinker/Feeler scale also performed well. Seven of nine items loaded sufficiently (ranging from .26 to .58). The Sensing/Intuitive scale and the Judging Perceiving scales performed much less independently for this group. Both scale's sets of items loaded onto factor one (13 of 18), or did not load on any of the scales to any significant degree.

bulletDimension differences

When group means (Table 1) were compared on each of the four dimensions with analysis of variance, all four dimensions showed an overall significant effect (table 2). Tukey post-hoc analysis showed that the individual differences were not consistent across the scales, varying for each scale.

The Introvert/Extrovert scale showed an overall difference (F = 5.07, p=.007). The variance was attributed to the difference between the band group mean and as compared to the other two groups (b vs. u p=.01, b vs. c .p=05). This suggests that the band group had a higher population of extroverts.

The Sensate/Intuitive scale also showed an overall significant effect (F = 3.55 p=.03). The Urban group scored significantly higher than the two suburban groups on sensate scores. Their scores also much more closely matched the expected general population mean score that would be predicted with the test (about 40% initiatives), this is predictable within the band population but was not expected in the control group.

The thinker/feeler dimension showed a difference in much the same manner. The urban group scored at or around the expected general population mean but differed from the control group (p=.002), while the overall effect was again significant (F=5.8 p=.003). This result was again repeated with the Judger/Perceiver by group analysis. The urban sample scores showed a strong Judger preference, and the control group was skewed toward the perceiver side (p=.011). The overall effect was significant as well (F=4.17 p=.017).


Table 1

Mean scores on four dimensions of personality by group


scale Urban Alt Band Suburban Overall

Extro/Introvert 13.93 13.68 12.79 13.37


Intuitive/Sensate 13.43 14.19 14.34 14.05


Thinker/Feeler 13.14 12.42 11.95 12.40


Judger/Perceiver 13.17 14.00 14.32 13.92




Table 2

Analysis of Variance of Group Means across the four personality dimensions

scale F - Ratio df P value

Extro/Introvert 5.01 2,227 .007


Intuitive/Sensate 3.55 2,227 .030


Thinker/Feeler 5.81 2,227 .003


Judger/Perceiver 4.17 2,227 .017


bulletItem differences

Although there was not clear support that the instrument functioned the same for all groups, a survey of items suggested that items functioned similarly to overall dimension scores within groups, with few exceptions. Items that had a very differential functioning between groups corresponded to scales where groups differed in their overall scoring pattern. Considering the fact that the greatest differences on scales was on the E/I and J/P dimension, and these were the two scales that factor analyzed sufficiently with the small urban sample, findings were analyzed with sufficient confidence.

The exception to this pattern was item #29; When it comes to news at school, you seem A. to find it out quickly B. to be one of the last to know. The band group scored at a 55% proportion that was an introverted score (which was contrary to the other introverted/extroverted items that they reported as extroverts), and the urban group scored at the 27% proportion (which is well into the extroverted range), which was counter their overall scale tendency. However, this item was the only exception to the tendency of the items to reflect the group tendency on the overall dimension. This item's differential functioning could be in part explained by the nature of the particular urban setting from which the subjects were selected. News is spread at an astounding rate.

Table 3

Proportion of students in personality dimensions by group


Group Means

Scale Urban Band Control Expected


Extroversion 49.0 59.4 70.4 60-65


Sensate 61.3 45.4 43.0 55-65


Thinker 59.0 36.2 31.0 40-60*


Judger 72.1 36.2 35.0 40-50


E/S 26.2 28.9 30.0 32-36


I/N 31.1 21.6 18.0 12-18


I/S 31.1 17.3 12.0 18-22


E/N 11.4 30.4 41.0 24-28


* the thinker feeler scale is normed differently for males and females. The female norms are feeler 60-thinker 40. The male norms are feeler 40 thinker 60.


Table 3 indicates the proportion of students from each group who fall into categories of type on the two dimensions most associated with learning (Kolb, 76). The Urban group had a higher proportion of members in the Introverted Intuitive group that has shown the most academic aptitude and academic performance of the four types (Conaray, 1965; Myers, 1978,79, 80, 82). Conversely they had the lowest proportion of students in the Extroverted- Intuitive category. The E/S category is most associated with outgoingness and verbal ability. On the single category measures the urban group scored at twice the proportion of Judgers (as opposed to Perceivers), as the other two groups, and 60% higher than the expected population mean. The over representation of both Introverts and Judgers in the urban group in of particular significance.



The purpose of the study was to compare temperament scores and instrument functioning across three groups from different typed of school populations. Overall the instrument functioned very well and demonstrated a good degree of validity. As expected groups did differ on each dimension, but the differences were not consistent with the expected findings given the common research assumptions especially with respect to the urban alternative group.

It could be concluded that the Paragon Learning Style and Temperament Indicator showed high degrees of both content and construct validity. Construct validity was demonstrated by the high factor loadings and independence of each factor. The factors did not perform as well with the smaller group (N=61,69,100) samples as it did with the entire sample (N=230). Content validity was supported in part by the high degree to which items' scores correlated highly with their overall dimension across each of the three groups. This validation was also found in the informal setting of the administration where test scores were compared to verification lists of behaviors and traits of those who should have scored a given way on a scale or combination of scales.

The results suggested that groups scored overall differently, on each of the four dimensions. It was predicted that the band group scores would be elevated on the Intuitive scale, Perceiver, and the feeler scales. This was in fact the case. They were additionally high on extroversion to a significant degree. The band group was also very differentiated in terms of their distribution. It was a true bimodal distribution with a definite skew toward the preferred end of the scale. If it is the case that the band group represented high achieving students, then it would give support for the hypothesis that differentiation of type is correlated positively with academic ability.

The control group performed much more like the band group than either the urban group or an expected normative sample. This calls into question the sampling procedure used to obtain these subjects. It would appear the group was not representative of a typical population. The elevations on both the feeler dimension and the perceiver dimension were significantly high. While this has been found in previous research (Murphy & Meisgeier, 1989), it is most likely a function of the sample as opposed to the test.

The generalizabity of these findings is limited. None of the three groups were coded for ethnic identification and the representativeness of each group is questionable. So an effort to draw conclusive ethnic generalizations seems unwarranted. Although there does seem some reason to draw some conclusions about how different student populations differ in their temperament type. The urban alternative sample showed some characteristics that were of note, and may give some insight into why certain students choose schools of this kind.

The urban students although their distributions were in three of four cases were flat or normally shaped as opposed to bimodal (only the T/F scale), their distribution "type wise" was significant when compared with the assumptions of the profession. Given the assumption that most dropouts come from the extroverted- concrete (sensate) combination, it is noteworthy to see in this sample that approximately 60 percent of students were introverted. Additionally, although the urban sample had a lower percentage of abstracts (initiatives), they were approximately equal to the expected general population (about 40-50%). In fact there were more (N=19) students who scored as introverted- abstracts, assumed to be the most academically oriented type, than extroverted- concretes (N=17), who are the predicted type for a "problem student school".

Moreover the urban group scored higher on both thinker and Judger scales, which are both further predictors of academic success, especially at the higher levels (Myers 1985; Morphord, 1988), as well as in the area of standardized tests. These findings seem to suggest that the hypothesis that certain types will be more "successful" or "comfortable" in certain school settings needs to be rethought, and may be more complex than originally suggested.

It seems to be there is an assumption that "school" has a certain universal character, and that some people are more suited to it than others. If this were ever actually true, it may be much less true today. It is the feeling of the researcher that academic success is a small part of what makes school "work" or "not work" for students. In the urban populations used in this study, the assumption would be that "good student types" would be more likely to be satisfied with their school, stay in it, and do well as students. On the other hand, "less academically inclined types" would be more apt to perform poorly and get into trouble because of a need to act out, etc.

The results of this study seem to suggest this is untrue. Yet why would "academic types" land in alternative schools and perform at very low level toward academic goals? A possible answer could come from an analysis of the dimension preferred by the urban group. Introversion is said to correlate with academic success (Myers, 1985; Lawrence, 1979; Provost, 1985). Although this is well supported, it can also be the case that introversion causes adjustment and socialization problems. School success must be defined more broadly than just grades to include how one seems to fit in and feel their needs being met by the system. This is particularly difficult when one is young and feels as though they are inadequate due to some inability, as opposed to an innate orientation. This dynamic is exacerbated even further in cultural settings where sociability and conformity are highly reinforced.

The high percentage of thinking types in the urban group may contribute to this phenomenon even further. A thinker's serious and critical approach may not only cause others to be less comfortable and cause a less approachable demeanor, it lends itself to a higher degree of over analysis of the situation which one finds him/herself. The "cool" label that may be attributed to the thinker may reinforce a certain self image as well.

The fact that there was nearly twice the expected percentage of "IN"s in the urban population as is expected in a typical school (and even less would be expected in a school where the academic level was generally low), was noteworthy. This suggests that having a scientific mind does not necessarily orient one toward scientific pursuits in a traditional sense. If one were accustomed to street life, it would be quite possible that the thinking style of the IN would be to make a lucrative existence on the street, more attractive and reinforcing than sitting in a classroom where what was being taught appeared trivial and waste of one's talent, and the discomfort of being a "personality minority."

It is unclear whether there was a cultural effect in the differential item functioning. It remains a question whether groups differed because they were acculturated to report in certain patterns of whether the populations were attracted to their setting and courses because of their similar orientations. Research seems strongly to support that creative and performing types tend to have very different distribution. This is usually characterized by elevations on the intuitive and feeler dimensions (Myers, 1985). This was supported in the band sample in this study.

It would be a suggestion for further research to compare level of acculturation and differences in reporting across the type scales. Of particular interest would be the Judger/Perceiver scale. If this were a factor in the variance of scores found between groups, it would raise some interesting research and construct validity issues.


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