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The Reading Matrix Vol. 6, No. 2, September 2006

STUDENT WRITING, PERSONALITY TYPE OF THE STUDENT AND THE RATER: ANY INTERRELATIONSHIP? Fahimeh Marefat fmarefat@gmail.com

Abstract The way we learn is very much affected by our personality. Practitioners have proposed that an understanding of personality type can help teachers explain why students approach tasks differently: some are successful, while some fail to participate in class activities (Oxford & Ehrman, 1990; Wilz, 2000). MeyersBriggs’s theory, anchored in Jung’s work, introduces four different character types: Introvert/Extrovert, Sensitive/Intuitive, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving. The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a 93-item paperand-pencil inventory, helps, as a reliable instrument, identify students’ personality types. The current study aims at discovering the relationship, if any, between learner personality type and his writing ability in the first place and then between rater personality and his rating procedure. Eighty-six male and female graduate and undergraduate EFL students and their teacher who rated their essays participated in this study. The average of each learner’s scores on two in-class writings, as well as midterm and final exams served as an index of his writing ability. The participants were also asked to fill out the MBTI questionnaire with two options for each item. Individuals were classified on the basis of their selfreported preferences. Analysis of data indicated that the only dimension showing significant impact across writing ability was the S/N preference. Surprisingly, a link was observed between rater personality and her rating procedure. __________________

"We, ignorant of ourselves, Beg often our own harms.” (Shakespeare, Anthony & Cleopatra)

Why bother learning about personality types? People differ from one another depending on the way they perceive the world. In fact, our personality affects the way we learn. Practitioners have proposed an understanding of personality type (how we interact with the world and where we direct our energy, the kind of information we naturally notice, how we make decisions) can help explain why we learn differently (Ehrman & Oxford, 1990; Ehrman & Oxford, 1995; Ehrman, 1994; Wilz, 2000). According to Ehrman and Oxford, studies investigating psychological types are promising in that they offer “an accessible conceptual framework for language trainers and learners …. greater selfregulation and better learning performance” (1990, p. 324). Learners can actually move out of their “comfort zone” and try other preferences, like hand preferences. In line with others, Wilz (2000) expresses the dire need for personality type understanding on the part of the teacher: An awareness of student personality types allows teachers to have a better understanding of the classroom dynamics and to be better able to determine what

117 kinds of classroom activities and strategies would be most effective with a majority of students in the class (p, 29). Inspired by such studies that underscore investigation into learner characteristics, the present study examines the relationship between psychological type as measured by the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to writing ability. This study aims to shed light on the way personality preferences interact with writing ability. Would the preferences influence the individual expressing himself? Would, for instance, someone connected with the introvert pole write better than the person being classified under the extrovert pole? It is also the aim of this research to see if any trace can be found in the rating process as regards learner and rater personality type. General characteristics of the MBTI Inventory: People are unique individuals and are born with preferences. The MBTI instrument is used to understand personality differences; it describes various behavior patterns that in turn affect the way we function in the world. The intention,...
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