As a professional development provider, TCEA prides itself on ensuring that the learning we offer is engaging. After all, the research is clear that someone has to want to learn in order to begin learning. One of the ways we do that is to provide ice breaker activities at the beginning and throughout the day. Ice breakers serve to “warm” the participants up and get their brains going. They help to establish a sense of belonging in the training and can help educators connect and network with each other.
The Personality Test
I recently discovered a new activity that I’ll be using in the future (thanks to TCEA President Holli Horton). It’s a free, online personality test that is pretty insightful. Although it is free, it offers a lot of sound information and features.
The framework for the test incorporates the latest advances in psychometric research, combining time-tested concepts with robust and highly accurate testing techniques. The test is trait based instead of type based. This means that instead of creating an arbitrary number of categories and attempting to fit people within them, a trait-based model simply studies the degree to which people exhibit certain traits. They do then group your traits into a personality type (because that’s what we are used to). They have four personality types:
The assessment is valid because, since it’s free to take, more than 40,000,000 people have taken it thus far, giving them a huge pool of data.(Note: Because they have had so many people from all around the world complete the assessment, they have a ton of data organized by country. You can view it here. I can see some excellent activities for students in examining this data in teams and drawing some conclusions that they can then test through research.)
How It Works
I took the test myself to see how it works. It takes less than 12 minutes to complete as you answer questions using a standard Likert scale (shown below).
Once I completed the test, I received my results immediately and, to be honest, they fit me to a tee. I am a Defender, which means I have Sentinel traits. According to the results: “Defenders are the backbone of the modern workforce. Altruistic and well-rounded, no other personality type is so well-suited to be of service of others.” My profile included detailed information about for me in several areas:
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Romantic relationships
- Career paths
- Workplace habits
The company promises that it will not sell any personal data to other companies, advertisers, political parties, etc. And again, there is no charge for the test or the results. If you provide an email address, they will email your results to you. But this is not required. They even offer a free “members area” community where you can talk with others about your personality. (So, if you’re like me, you have to be wondering “Why do they provide all of this for free?” Well, the answer is that they do offer premium services at three different levels if you want to know more about your personality type. This includes a much more exhaustive profile — 208 pages — and interactive courses for an entire year. But they are not pushy about this. I have yet to receive any marketing emails from them.)
Using the Personality Test in Professional Development
I can see that this quick activity would be of interest to almost everyone, even those who have done other types of personality quizzes. It was incredibly simple to fill out, even though I had to stop and think a few times about my answers. Once people have had a chance to read over their results, I think it would be great to put them into small groups by type and let them discuss what they have in common. I might then ask the groups to discuss if having a particular personality type/traits leads to having a particular teaching style. And I would also ask them to consider how their personality can better work with their colleagues.
One Other Use
Joel Davis with Follett shares how he has used the information from the personality test professionally. “I’ve created a user manual for myself that I can pass along to co-workers and collaborators. It acts as a sort of quick start manual like you get when you are setting up a new computer or printer.” The information allows co-workers a quick way to learn about him and how they can best work together. You can see a copy of his short report here. This is a great idea for the start of the school year to help new staff members learn more about their colleagues. Thanks for sharing, Joel!
I think this type of activity is powerful and should be included in professional learning experiences that we provide. What do you think?
This blog was updated with new content on June 4, 2019.