Colouring personalities

9th July 2004 at 01:00
Psychometric testing in some form or other is now used by the overwhelming majority of graduate employers when hiring new staff and is being increasingly considered as part of the selection process for many university courses.

But what about schools? In both the staffroom and the classroom, administrators and teachers are likely to find psychometric testing a powerful tool for ensuring staff and students reach their full potential.

The essence of psychometric testing is to identify a person's personality type and, from that, develop an understanding of what will motivate or inspire them. Conversely, the tests will also point to potential difficulties someone might have in dealing with specific situations or tasks.

For administrators, this can head off potential staffing problems by ensuring that, wherever possible, teachers and support staff are assigned tasks that play to their personality strengths. In the classroom, the benefits may be even clearer in terms of enhancing each student's learning experience and defusing potential conflicts and aggressive behaviour.

Some people are predominantly guided by their senses, while others tend to rely on intuition. Some people are introverted, others extroverted. some could be termed "thinkers," while others are "feelers".

Using colour terms to describe these different personality characteristics is a convenient shorthand: goal-driven extrovert personalities are classed as red. Introverted, analytical types are blue. Greens and yellows are driven by their feelings.

Knowing a person's "colour" and what that says about his or her personality is valuable information for a school, particularly when it comes to classroom conflicts. For instance, if a teacher is dealing with people who are a green-blue, they are introverts who are guided by their senses. Such persons are likely to be careful and cautious and to shy away from stress or chaos.

Another student, however, might be a bright yellow. Think of him or her as an inspirer, driven by an extrovert personality and guided by feelings. He or she is good at creating enthusiasm in others and at developing and maintaining networks and contacts.

Both personality types are likely to be found in any classroom, but they will only fully prosper if they are in a situation which draws on their strengths. That is the key to successful use of this analytical tool: no colour is better than another, but a teacher or school administrator who ignores the key attributes of their students may be hindering them in the school environment.

It is also possible to identify what a person's "difficult" type or opposite would be - another essential piece of information for a teacher looking to maintain a happy classroom. For instance, a blue-dominant personality, who is likely to be very thorough and analytical in his or her approach, may find it difficult to get on with a bright yellow, free-thinking creative extrovert.

It's like having two magnets who repel each other, but that doesn't mean the students can't communicate - the teacher just needs to find the best way to engage them both, and personality analysis points to the likely trouble spots and suggests how to avoid them.

In practical terms, few teachers are going to be able to maintain a course structure that caters for the individual personalities of every pupil, but if this personality profiling were available it would provide teachers with vital insights into what might be causing serious problems as they emerge.

The result will be a calmer, less stressful and better learning environment.

Dave McConachie

Sales director, Wisdom IT

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