While in a session on the Paperless Classroom presented by two teachers Cynthia Coones and Jody Velde from White Oaks ISD at the LearnED at TCEA 2014, I was struck by the idea that even now, technology integration, at least right now in the schools, is strongly dependent on the personality of the educators and not dependent on the type of technology.
These two teachers demonstrated quite well how they were able to go to an almost paperless workflow in their classrooms. The arguments they made FOR using the technology made sense and everyone in the room could understand the advantages. Yet, they stated over and over during their presentation, that even when they showed their colleagues the advantages of using tools like Google Docs to cut down on making copies, and taking papers home, and student loss of work, that many of their peers were still left unconvinced and did nothing to move towards integration technology in lessons.
You could lead a horse to water it seemed, but you could;t make them turn on the computer. They stated that the excuses that they heard were the exact same excuses we all hear when trying to convince colleagues that they really need to use technology with their students. Time, effort, time, effort, not needed…blah blah blah.
That got me wondering if there were specific teacher personality types that were more willing to adapt to change compared to those that didn’t like change. Could we as change agents use that knowledge to better focus training based on who we knew would adopt the technology and those that would not?
I once took an education management class and the professor showed us a bell curve. I remember him saying that if we ever became principals that those teachers that lay beyond the first standard deviation on either side are either lost causes or 100% behind you: They will either do everything you want , or do nothing you want, depending on where on the chart they fell. “Worry about the ones between the mean and the 1st standard deviation” he said. “They are ones that are waiting to be convinced one way or another.”
That is kind of how I feel about technology users in schools. Those at the far end of the bell curve are probably lost causes or true followers. We need to focus on the center dwellers.
How can we use personality type to maximize our training and thus our technology adoption?
A study in 1995 by Smith found that teachers that were creative, analytical, logical and imaginative to institutive/thinking were more likely to quickly adopt to new teaching techniques and using technology. On the other hand, practical, introverts, people that say they are “realistic” are more likely not to adopt technology with their students.
The study went on to state "For effective training, educators need to design programs for pre- and in-service teachers that include descriptions of how different personalities can best use technology with diverse students. Those individuals more inclined to use technology may be identified to work in interdisciplinary teams with others who are less inclined to use the newer technologies. Identification with individualized instruction may successfully reduce anxieties often experienced by some novice teachers.
A 2003 study found that, using the Meyers Briggs personality test, that “intuitive/thinking types of personalities were more likely to use technology in teaching while the sensory/feeling types were the least likely.”
I think that we as trainers rarely if ever take into account the personality type of the teachers we are training. So often we have to be like McDonald’s; getting as many customers through the drive thru in as little amount of time as possible.
As recently as this March, Rhonda Christensen from the University of North Texas presented on “Relationships Between Teacher Personality Type and Technology Integration Indicators” at the SITE2014 conference. Her conclusion:
"It appears that judging personality preferences might be the least accepting of technology innovations while teachers with perceiving preferences more likely to embrace technology sooner. It makes sense when you read the general characteristics of people who select either the judging or perceiving preference trait. The judging trait tends to prefer more structure while the people who tend toward the perceiving characteristics tend to have a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle.
Regardless of personality type, the teachers seem to prefer an electronic textbook for their students but prefer a traditional paper textbook for themselves. Smith, Munday and Windham (1995) found that NT (intuition/thinking) type personalities were more likely to teach with technology while SF (sensing/feeling) types were least likely to embrace technology.
The current research study found similar results for the three technology integration measures. This study partially supported the Katz (1992) findings in which extroverted and sensing types were more willing to use technology. This study clearly supported that extrovert types were much more likely to accept and use technology. However, this study found the opposite for the sensing/intuition in which teachers who reported the intuition trait were more likely to report higher levels of technology integration.
Those who are planning and implementing professional development may find that measuring personality attributes as well as learning styles of teachers may enhance the usefulness of their training.”
I think that we as professional developers, might start thinking a bit more about the trainees, and less about the training if we want to make lasting impacts.