Chapter 1. Human Behavior

Instructor and Student Relationship

How does personality type testing affect instructors and students? Research has led many educational psychologists to feel that based on personality type, everyone also has an individual style of learning. In this theory, working with that style, rather than against it, benefits both instructor and student. Although controversy often swirls around the educational benefits of teaching students according to personality types, it has gained a large following and been implemented at many levels of education. Today’s student can visit any number of websites, take a personality test, and discover what type of student he or she is and how best to study.

Not only does personality type influence how one learns, it also influences how one teaches. Learning one’s personality type helps an instructor recognize how he or she instructs. Why is it important to recognize personal instruction style? The match or mismatch between the way an instructor teaches and the way a student learns contributes to student satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Students whose learning styles are compatible with the teaching styles of an instructor tend to retain information longer, apply it more effectively, learn more, and have a more positive attitude toward the course in general. Although an instructor cannot change his or her preferred style of teaching to match a learning style, steps can be taken to actively bridge the differences.

Consider Derek’s dilemma with Jason. Derek knows he is the type of instructor who provides a clear, precise syllabus and has a tendency to explain with step-by-step procedures. His teaching style relies on traditional techniques and he often finds himself teaching as he was taught. Observation leads Derek to believe Jason is the type of person who needs the action, excitement, and variation reflected in his career choice. In an effort to focus Jason on the need to learn all aspects of flight, Derek sets up a scenario for the day that features how to scout locations for future adventure tours.

By adjusting the flight scenario, Derek pushes himself out of his lock-step approach to teaching. He has also added an element of variation to the lesson that not only interests Jason, but is one of the reasons he wants to learn to fly.

Human Needs and Motivation

Human needs are things all humans require for normal growth and development. These needs have been studied by psychologists and categorized in a number of ways. Henry A.

Murray, one of the founders of personality psychology who was active in developing a theory of motivation, identified a list of core psychological needs in 1938. He described these needs as being either primary (based on biological needs, such as the need for food) or secondary (generally psychological, such as the need for independence). Murray believed the interplay of these needs produce distinct personality types and are internal influences on behavior.

Murray’s research underpins the work of psychologist Abraham Maslow who also studied human needs, motivation, and personality. While working with monkeys during his early years of research, he noticed that some needs take precedence over others. For example, thirst is relieved before hunger because the need for water is a stronger need than the need for food. In 1954, Maslow published what has become known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which remains valid today for understanding human motivation. [Figure 1-2] According to Maslow, human needs go beyond the obvious physical needs of food and shelter to include psychological needs, safety and security, love and belongingness, self esteem, and self actualization to achieve one’s goals.

Human needs are satisfied in order of importance. Once a need is satisfied, humans work to satisfy the next level of need. Need satisfaction is an ongoing behavior that determines everyday actions.

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