The way students exhibit five key personality traits that influence how they learn has been analyzed by a United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) research team, in the hope the findings can help to develop educational strategies for the future.
179 students taking courses within the university’s College of Information Technology (CIT) were questioned by researchers about how agreeableness, extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism – collectively known as “the Big Five Factor” – affect the way they learn.
The aim of the study – the work of a research team lead by Dr Nabeel Al-Qirim of CIT and published in in EAIT by SPRINGER– was to amass findings that may help to design programs that enhance students’ learning ability by aligning with their personal characteristics.
The results, taken from a random sample of students, showed:
From these findings, a series of implications and suggestions have been produced by the research team for consideration by the wider UAE academic sector, including introducing IT concepts such as “edutainment” to learning; encouraging more student engagement in social activities, sport, behavior seminars and workshops, and personal and team-building exercises; incorporating more teamwork tasks into learning to move students towards developing trusted relationships beyond their immediate circle of friends; and using electronic calendars and organizers to help them manage their educational tasks.
Other suggestions include nurturing “a spirit that rewards achievement and remedies failure”, by adopting a trial-and-error approach where students learn from mistakes; holding workshops and seminars designed to enhance students’ moral and mental wellbeing; and providing more individual assessments of students to build their personal capabilities, such as asking them to design their own webpages and apps.
“The Big Five personality traits shed interesting insights and contrasts on students’ personal traits,” the research team explained in a now-published paper. “Many of the suggested enhancements could be achieved by designing programs aimed at enhancing students’ learning abilities by boosting their personal innate nature.
“However, the cultural aspects are more difficult to address. Cultural issues require the cooperation and collaboration of the university and the community that surrounds learning in general and the family more specifically, and this is an important future research area.
“The expected outcome of this research will be of importance to researchers, professionals, and policymakers interested in addressing weak and strong learning abilities. This is initial research in this area in the UAE, and other researchers and universities might be interested in understanding the personal innate nature of their students.”
The team said that the findings may also be of use to the professional sector in terms of designing and offering “more focused training programs and workshops aimed at students and officials in universities and elsewhere”, and can support higher education leaders in devising “more focused and effective policies to enhance student learning strategies”.