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Engaging students with learning and personal development by using a thinking styles questionnaire.

Dr. Alison Halstead. Dean of Learning and Teaching University of Wolverhampton a.halstead@wlv.ac.uk

obtained from this type of data. It illustrates a wide variety of thinking preferences by comparing staff from different disciplines as well as students in order to illustrate the potential of this psychometric tool.The final section of the study looks at one group of first year students and the benefits to the course leader of assessing the groups thinking styles. The appendices to the study provide examples of some of the alternative questionnaires that are around and references for further reading. The thinking style questionnaire used is a highly sophisticated instrument that provides a very detailed analysis of the individual's thinking preferences. It has a lot of potential for the development of personal growth and academic independence; the students participating in this pilot are completing the questionnaire in each year of their studies with a view to tracking their development.The results of this work will be the topic of future publications. In this study, the focus of the activity is about engaging and retaining the students at the start of the course. It has proven highly successful in capturing the imagination of all participants. Additionally, course leaders have seen specific benefits for themselves in understanding the group they are teaching.

Summary - What can this kind of approach do for your students?


Everyone has a curiosity about how the mind works.This project draws on this natural desire to retain and engage students in learning and personal development. This case study looks at how a thinking styles questionnaire has been used with first year engineering students at the Universities of Coventry, Hull and Wolverhampton. It starts by reflecting on the purpose of measuring students learning and or thinking style and notes some of the other questionnaires that have been used in engineering education.The next section introduces the 'thinking styles questionnaire that has been used in this study and explains the form of the feedback that it provides a participant.The main body of the study looks at the trends of thinking from all the students on the first year engineering programmes and identifies the visual and task focussed nature of these averages. A further section highlights the detail that can be

PROGRESS Project Strategy Guide: Thinking Styles of Engineering Students

2 Contents
Page No Summary - What can this kind of approach do for your students? 1.Why measure thinking preferences of engineering students? 1.1 A new psychometric instrument "Thinking Styles" 1.2 What is Thinking Styles? 1.3 What does Thinking Styles measure? 1.4 How was Thinking Styles developed? 1.5 How is the Thinking Styles feedback structured? 2. Applications of Thinking Styles to first year undergraduate engineering students 2.1 The Pilot Group 2.2 Average Data 2.2.1 Sensory Focus of the whole group 2.2.2 People focus of the whole group 2.2.3 Task focus of the whole group 2.3 Group Analysis by discipline 2.3.1 The Visual thinking preferences of staff from various technical disciplines 2.3.2 People focussed thinking preferences for Mechanical Engineering first year students 2.3.3 People focussed thinking preferences for Electrical Engineering first year students 2.3.4 Task focussed thinking preferences for Aerospace Engineering first year students 2.3.5 Task focussed thinking preferences for Design Engineering first year students 2.3.6 A comparison between the staff and student thinking preferences 2.3.7 A comparison between first year and final year Design students thinking preferences. 1 4 4 4 5 5 5

6 6 6 6 7 7 8 8 8 9 9 10 10 11

PROGRESS Project Strategy Guide: Thinking Styles of Engineering Students

3 Contents
Page No 2.3.8 An overview of the thinking preferences of a small first year group of students. 2.3.9 What the students thought. 3 Discussion 4 How has this study been different from others? 5 Benefits of this study 6 I am interested in using this approach with my students - how do I go about it? 7 References Appendix 1 The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI) Appendix 2 Kolb's Learning Style Model 11 12 13 15 16 17 18 20 21 22 23 24 24 25

Appendix 3 Herman Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) Appendix 4 Model Felder-Silverman Learning Style

Appendix 5 Peter Honey and Alan Mumford's Learning Styles Evaluation Appendix 6 naire Appendix 7 The Thinking Styles questionThinking Styles

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1.Why measure thinking preferences of engineering students?
"Of one thing we can be sure. The quality of our life in the future will be determined by the quality of our thinking" [Edward de Bono] The initial purpose in measuring the thinking preferences of students was to heighten the students' awareness of their role in the learning process and to encourage them to engage and take responsibility for their personal development.The realisation that everyone thinks differently is the first step in achieving effective collaboration. This helps students in completing group tasks as well as their own development in becoming self confident and independent individuals.These are life skills that all engineering courses strive to develop in the students to support them in gaining suitable employment. Engaging the students in this way at the start of their studies is expected to have a positive affect on retention. engineers using any of the five tools mentioned is reported to provide a positive intervention.Three of the tools have only four reporting functions and professional engineers and staff are consistently found to be left brain, logical, procedural, Quadrant A, sequential, theoretical whereas students and industry require greater flexibility in assessing variety of thinking and learning preference. The author was attracted to the Thinking Styles questionnaire (1) because of the breadth of the dimensions (26 in total) and the fact that the instrument measured an individuals preference for thinking in a certain way but also an individuals dislike of that method of thinking. It is suggested that there is scope to use such a tool to assist engineers in developing a flexibility of thought as well as self-awareness and understanding of others. The next section introduces the questionnaire used throughout this case study.

1.1 A new psychometric instrument 'Thinking Styles'


There are several learning style questionnaires in use in the field of Engineering Education.The most popular of which are The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (see Appendix 1), Kolb's Learning Style Model (see Appendix 2), Herrman Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) (see Appendix 3), FelderSilverman Learning Style Model (see Appendix 4) and Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Evaluation see (Appendix 5). The vast majority of research conducted with

1.2 What is Thinking Styles ?


It is a self-reporting diagnostic tool that is used to determine cognitive (thinking) preferences. It is administrated in the form of a questionnaire (Appendix 6 or www.thinkingstyles.co.uk).The questionnaire consists of 183 questions and takes about 30 minutes to complete.

PROGRESS Project Strategy Guide: Thinking Styles of Engineering Students

1.3 What does Thinking Styles measure?


The Thinking Styles questionnaire measures cognitive and linguistic preferences as well as the flexibility of thinking. It does not measure intelligence or ability; it simply provides a listing of an individual's preference for thinking in a certain way.The questionnaire when analysed provides a personal profile of the twenty-six dimensions as given in Appendix 7. A unique feature of this tool is that as well as identifying and measuring the way in which a candidate likes to think it also measures the degree to which a certain style of thinking is disliked. As such the range presents a flexibility of thinking.

low numbers seeking careers in engineering (4). It has also been used with postgraduate students and staff(5). In this work over a 150 first year engineering students have used the questionnaire.

1.5 How is the Thinking Styles feedback structured?


A short report provides the feedback.The thinking style profile that is provided measures individuals preference levels for twentysix different styles of thinking. As shown in Appendix 7 dimensions are split into three areas of preference: Sensory preferences: (how an individual's thinking is influenced by sight, hearing, touch or figures). People preferences: (how an individual interacts with others) and Task preferences: (how an individual approaches tasks and problem solving). Each dimension indicates the positive or negative preference that the individual exhibits. The overall preferences are then summarised from high to low so that an individual can identifying their most dominant features.(Appendix 8 gives an example of a short report) An accompanying booklet provides advice on the different dimensions and tips and hints on developing more flexibility on any particular dimension (6). The software allows individuals, pairs and groups up to ten to be compared in terms of their thinking preferences.

1.4 How was thinking styles developed?


Thinking Styles was developed by BeddoeJones in 1999(1).The development draws partly on the traditions and experience of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). NLP can be portrayed as a series of practical techniques for accelerating learning and improving communication that has been tested in over 30 years of qualitative fieldwork by trained practitioners (2).Whilst it has its critics, some of them vociferous, NLP continues to attract consultants seeking to apply this sort of approach widely (3). Thinking styles was released in its current form in 1999 . It has been used in management and leadership, and more recently in Schools looking at the thinking preferences of females as a basis for understanding the reasons for the observed

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2. Applications of thinking styles to first year undergraduate engineering students
The thinking styles questionnaire has been used with first year students and analysed in terms of the whole cohort, individual students, and a study group.This is research in progress and has been included in the case study to indicate the scope of the instruments. there are any strong trends in thinking preference from these first year engineers.

2.2.1 Sensory focus of the whole group


Firstly examining the Sensory thinking preferences: Figure 1 Average Sensory results of the whole group of engineers Figure 1 shows a high thinking preference for the 'Visual' dimension, that is a preference for information to be expressed by the use of diagrams and figures rather than for the 'Kinaesthetic' Dimension which would involve
Sensory Focus
Digital Kinaesthetic Auditory Visual 0 20 40 60 80 100

2.1

The pilot group

The questionnaire (1) was issued to 150 undergraduate engineering students in Mechanical, Design, Electrical and Automotive Engineering Personal profiles were produced for all participants and a brief summary of the results is presented. In this first example the overall average data for each one of the thinking style preferences is represented.

2.2

Average data

Figures 1, 2 and 3 show the average results for the whole cohort for all twenty-six dimensions.The results are split up in terms of the Sensory, People and Task focus dimensions and the average of all the preferences compared.This overall comparison is in terms of the highest preferences exhibited by the undergraduate cohort.To achieve a high score a student would have agreed with the statements relating to this type of thinking and are very likely to display most of the thinking behaviours described within the detailed descriptions. Colleagues will tend to recognise this type of thinking. A positive preference greater than 70% was required to be classified as having a high thinking preference for that dimension. In this first analysis the whole cohort has been examined to see if

feelings, emotions and intuition.The 'Digital' dimension, a preference for data and numeric solutions was not as high a preference as might be expected expect from an engineering group, but the analysis of individuals and discipline groups provides a greater insight in later sections.

PROGRESS Project Strategy Guide: Thinking Styles of Engineering Students

2.2.2 People focus of the whole group


Next looking at the People focussed dimensions the bar chart in Figure 2 illustrates the average results. Figure 2 Average People focussed results for the whole group of engineers. Figure 2 shows only one strong thinking preference in this category that of ' External' dimension.This means that they need to have feedback from people to be able to focus and
People Focus
Competitive Collaborative Mismatching Matching Others Self External Internal 0 20 40 60 80 100

2.2.3 Task focus of the whole group


The final average data is shown in Figure 3 provides the Task focussed dimensions: Figure 3 Average Task focussed results for the whole group of engineers.

Task Focus
Difference Sameness Complexity Simplicity Reactive Proactive Moving Aw ay From Moving Tow ards Procdedures Options Left Brain Right Brain Big Chunk Detail Conscious 0.00 20.00 40.00 60.00 80.00 100.0 0

direct themselves.This is not surprising at this stage of their education and you would expect this dimension to become less significant in a profile as the students become more independent learners, or in later years of study.

Figure 3 indicates that the highest thinking preference from the group was the 'Towards dimension' indicating a focus towards goals and targets a positive attitude and clear purpose. A lot of the other dimensions were similar and more benefit can be gained by examining the results on an individual and course basis in the next section

PROGRESS Project Strategy Guide: Thinking Styles of Engineering Students

2.3 Group Analysis by Discipline


The software allows a comparison of the thinking preferences of groups of up to ten people.This section provides an insight into the variation in thinking preference within the different disciplines and the scope of the instrument to provide an insight into the differences between individuals and disciplines.
Statistician Electrical Physics Mechanical

University Staff Visual Preference

10

Positive Preference Increasing

Figure 4: A comparison of the visual thinking preference of staff in four disciplines

2.3.1 The Visual thinking preferences of staff from various technical disciplines.
Figure 4 compares the results on one thinking preference, that of the visual dimension, for individual staff with degrees in statistics, physics, electrical and mechanical engineering. 0 - 5 on the horizontal scale indicates a dislike of thinking in a visual manner, as indicated by the Statistician and to a certain extent the Physicist, both could deal with numeric data with or without the need for visual presentation. 5 - 10 on the horizontal scale indicates a positive preference.The electrical and mechanical engineers both show a positive preference for this visual dimension as the engineering students indicated in an earlier section. Clearly problems can arise for students where staff teaching them have very different thinking preferences as is sometimes seen with mathematicians teaching to engineers.

2.3.2 People focused thinking preferences for Mechanical Engineering first year students.
Figure 5 compares some of the people focussed thinking preferences for a group of mechanical engineers.
People Focus First year Mechanical Students

internal external self others 0 2 4 6 8

Positive Preference Increasing

Figure 5: A comparison of the range of the group thinking preference of people focused thinking of first year Mechanical Engineering students

PROGRESS Project Strategy Guide: Thinking Styles of Engineering Students

At this stage the group are exhibiting a strong external focus, which also came out of the whole group analysis, this indicates that they need feedback from others, they may lack self-confidence, they can be swayed by others' opinions and that they are content to be led. The group has a dislike of the internal thinking preference, that of being confident, having strong internal standards, possessing leadership qualities.The positive preference to a self-thinking preference of this discipline group contrasts to the overall group that showed a dislike of self-focus.The others preference shows a much wider range than the whole engineering group.

The group are exhibiting a strong match focus, which also came out of the whole group analysis, this indicates that they like to agree and collaborate, avoiding conflict and argument.The group has a dislike of the mismatch thinking preference, in which they would enjoy conflict and argument.The positive preference for collaborative thinking is consistent with the match preference.

2.3.4 Task focussed thinking preferences for Aerospace Engineering first year students.
Figure 7 compares some of the task focussed thinking preferences for a group of first year aerospace engineers.
Task Focus First year Aerospace students simplicity complexity sameness difference

2.3.3 People focused thinking preferences for Electrical Engineering first year students.
Figure 6 compares some of the people focussed thinking preferences for a group of first year electrical engineers.
People Focus Electrical First Year students

10

Positive Preferences Increasing

match mismatch collaborative competitive 0 2 4 6 8 10

Figure 7: A comparison of the range of the group thinking preference of task focussed thinking of first year Aerospace Engineering students
Positive Preference Increasing

Figure 6: A comparison of the range of the group thinking preference of people focussed thinking of first year Electrical Engineering students

The group are exhibiting a strong sameness, which contrasts from the whole group analysis, this indicates that they like to make steady progress, that they have a low tolerance for change, they value stability and like to clear about staff expectation of them.The group

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has a dislike of the differences thinking preference, in which they would be a strong capacity for change and new ways of doing things. The group also has a dislike for complexity and prefers a simple and straightforward approach.

2.3.5 Task focussed thinking preferences for Design Engineering first year students.
Figure 8 compares some of the task focussed thinking preferences for a group of first year design engineers. Figure 8: A comparison of the range of the group
Task Focus Design Students Year 1

unlikely to take the initiative they consider their actions and want to be guided to a solution that works. The reactive preference is consistent with the proactive thinking in that it reflects that the students will wait for information, be cautious, analyse and plan and respond to circumstances.

2.3.6 A comparison between the staff and student thinking preferences.


Figure 9 illustrates some extreme differences between staff and student thinking.

options procedures proactive reactive 0 2 4 6 8


differences staff differences student options staff options student

Staff/student differences

Positive Preference Increasing

10

thinking preference of task focussed thinking of first year Design Engineering students The group are exhibiting a strong preference for procedures which suggest they want to be correct and understand the right way and they don't need choice (indicated by the negative preference for options) so much as an insight into the correct method of solving the problem.The group has a dislike of the proactive thinking preference, in that they are

Positive preferences increasing

Figure 9: A comparison of the variation between student and staff thinking. There are stark contrasts here in terms of staff and student thinking.The staff become bored with repetition and like radical change. The staff have no need for stability as well as wanting to make an impact in terms of

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research etc..The students at this introductory level need the reassurance of stability and slow steady change. Staff have a strong need for options and choice whereas their students want to know exactly which option it is that will lead to the correct answer.

Final Year Design Students

Big Chunk Sameness Match External 0 2 4 6 8 10

2.3.7 A comparison between first year and final year Design students thinking preferences
Figure 10 illustrates some differences between the thinking preferences of first year and final year students.This data has been gathered from different year groups of students participating on the same course. It is presented in this study to demonstrate a major aim of the programme. The purpose of measuring these thinking preferences throughout an undergraduate programme is to encourage a student to reflect on their thinking style.
First year Design students

Positive Preferences Increasing

Figure 10 b): A selection of thinking preferences from final year design students A comparison of figures 10a and 10b demonstrates the differences between first and final year students.The first year has a strong preference for sameness, is externally focussed with a match thinking preference.This means the student has a strong need for feedback and guidance and likes to be clear about the detail and expectation.This directly contrasts with the pre-graduation thinking preference in 10b in which the student has no longer a great need for sameness, match or external thinking.The graduating student also exhibits a much more strategic (big chunk thinking) unlike the first year who has a negative preference for this.

Big Chunk Sameness Match External 0 2 4 6 8 10

2.3.8 An overview of the thinking preferences of a small first year group of students
Figure 11a) and b) show the results for one group of nine first year students. Looking at the preferences in turn it is interesting to note how low the digital thinking preference

Positive Preferences Increasing

Figure 10 a): A selection of thinking preferences from first year design students

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is given the nature of the subject and the likelihood that the member of staff will have a preference to express the subject mathematically.The mismatch preference is a negative one reflecting that students would find it difficult to challenge the member of staff preferring agree or match.The strong external thinking i.e. a need for feedback and lack of self confidence is shown by the negative internal thinking preference.
Design Group Year 1

Figure 11b) indicates the need for clear instructions and attention to detail as opposed to lots of options and strategic thinking.These students need a lot of guidance and support if they are to become independent, confident learners and this sort of information provides a starting point for staff to encourage them to discuss how they think and learn and how they can strengthen their thinking flexibility.The next section provides student comments after receiving the thinking styles profile. 2.3.9 What the students thought.

Digital Mismatch Match External Internal 0 2 4 6 8 10

This section provides quotes from students after they had received the thinking styles profile.
Positive thinking preference increasing

'I couldn't believe how accurate the feedback was' 'It made me realise what a pain I can be to others' 'How differently we all approach things' 'I have always assumed we all thought the same way' These typify the responses from students, the majority of whom are very enthusiastic about continuing the study to see if it provides them with a measure of their personal development over the three years of the degree course.

Figure 11a) A summary of the preferences of one small group of students.


Design Group Year 1

Procedures Options Big Chunk Detail 0 2 4 6 8

Positive thinking preference increasing

Figure 11b) A summary of the preferences of one small group of students.

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The previous section has highlighted the preliminary findings of a newly developed thinking styles questionnaire, which has been used with undergraduate engineers. All researchers (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13) engaged in this aspect of engineering education, have found a positive benefit and raised levels of self-awareness through the application of such instruments.The aim of this short study was to explore the use of a newly developed psychometric tool to engage students in their own learning and retain them on their course. It was to achieve this by raising the individuals' interest in how they think, hence how they communicate and learn. This study of over 150 engineering student and staff thinking styles has demonstrated a range of uses for such a tool in terms of individual and group self awareness and communication skills as well as providing a positive retention benefit to the first year engineers. It has reinforced the fact that people are all different and exhibit these differences in the way they think and communicate with each other. The thinking style tool has twenty-six thinking preferences.This study identifies the following as key for engineers. In the sensory dimension Visual - The vast majority of engineering staff and students showed a strong preference for this dimension.This supports the wide spread use of practical examples, diagrams, computer modelling and work-based engineering for the teaching and effective learning of engineering students. It also explains why problems can arise with the teaching of mathematics to engineers if it is conducted in a purely analytical way. Figure 4 gives an interesting example of how staff approaches to teaching could vary from the statistician who may see no benefits to diagrams at all compared to the engineering staff who in this example have a good match to their students. In the people dimension External - This dimension indicative of a person who relies on feedback from others and tends to think that others are right was a very strong preference for the majority of level one students, this is shown in Figure 2, 5, and 10a). As staff it is important for us to remain aware of how critical timely, positive and constructive feedback is to students at level one and although students entering higher education increasingly seem mature and confident this small survey highlights a basic need. By contrast the data from graduating students shown in Figure 10b) indicates a negative preference for this thinking style and that students at this stage of the course and their personal development have started to rely much more on their own judgement.This dimension may well be a crucial indicator of personal confidence and increasing independence. Match - This dimension reflects a person wanting to fit in, who dislikes confrontation and may find it difficult to challenge and/or ask for advice or help. In the analysis of the whole group (Figure 2) this did not come out

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as a very high preference. However within the individual first year groups (Figures 6,10a and 11a) this was a key dimension.This was in stark contrast to the final year students' preferences shown in Figure 10b that indicates a neutral preference. At this stage of their studies they are becoming much more confident and assured and will challenge much more readily.This dimension may well be another good indicator or personal development. In the task dimension Towards - This dimension suggests a preference for working towards goals and targets typical of both students and staff in engineering. Detail and Procedures - These dimensions suggest a preference for detail, precision and method across most categories. Reactive/Proactive - First year students indicate this dimension when they think and wait for information before reacting.(Figure 8) They will review and confirm that they are going the correct way before proceeding.This contrasts to the final year students who are much more proactive. Big Chunk (Strategic) - First year students showed a negative preference for this dimension in contrast to the final year students who showed a high preference (Figures 10a and 10b). Options and Differences - First year students showed a negative preference compared to staff.( Figure 9) At this stage they do

not relish lots of variety and potential confusion they like the guidance to be clear again this may contrast to later years in the course. Sameness - In the overall group this did not show up as a very high preference but within the individual first year groups (Figures 7 and 10a) the high preference was striking. At this stage of their studies they are seeking stability and prefer familiar situations. The first three categories are typical of professional engineers but the other dimensions are highlighted because of the subtlety of this psychometric tool.They may provide dimensions that can be monitored as a reflection of the students' maturity, independence and confidence.

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4. How has this study been different from others?

All the assessment instruments discussed in the appendices of this study provide clues, not labels to help the participant understand their behaviour and how they relate and work with other people. Such models are useful in both an academic and business setting to support the development of interpersonal, team building and communication skills. In this respect the thinking styles questionnaire could be seen as simply another tool, however, the detail provided by the twentysix dimensions (1) allows a much fuller self and peer analysis to take place and this questionnaire potentially offers a much more powerful psychometric instrument.This questionnaire produces and provides an indication of the potential self-development aspects of the tool. In the discussion several dimensions were highlighted as thinking preferences that could change as the student becomes more independent e.g.Match/Mismatch, Reactive/Proactive, External/Internal, Sameness/Difference, Big Chunk/Detail, Options/Procedural. This is research in progress and clearly more research needs to be carried out to establish the full potential of this instrument.

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5.The benefits of this case study

This case study has briefly examined the thinking styles of over 150 engineering students and staff. The use of this newly developed psychometric tool has had several benefits: In terms of retention there was a measurable 5% increase in the numbers of students proceeding to the second year of the course. It is not claimed that this was a direct result of the students doing this questionnaire but it will have been one of the factors. All individuals concerned have reported an heightened awareness of their own thinking preferences and how that influences the way in which they communicate with peers. It has also helped all participants gain an insight into misunderstandings that can arise when people with different thinking styles try to communicate with each other. The study has highlighted major thinking style differences between staff and students and students in different year groups. The trends in thinking preferences shown by groups of students has caused the staff members involved to reflect on their own thinking and hence teaching style. Such a tool may be of use in supporting student development through their University careers and the sector may wish to reflect on the incorporation within PDP's.

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6. I am interested in using this technique with my students; how can I go about it?
There are two ways of taking this further: University of Wolverhampton, Centre for Learning and Teaching are seeking partners to pilot and evaluated the use of the thinking styles questionnaire with staff and students as well as searching for funds to support such a research project. If you are interested please contact Dr. Alison Halstead, Dean of Learning and Teaching, Centre for Learning and Teaching, University of Wolverhampton, Bankfield House, Waterloo Road, WV1 1SB. Tele: 01902 322362 Fax: 01902 322399 e-mail a.halstead@wlv.ac.uk The thinking styles tool is available on an individual or group basis through the web-site www.thinkingstyles.co.uk, staff can be trained as associates and negotiate rates for the use of the questionnaire

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7. References

1. Beddoes-Jones (2001) Thinking Styles web site, http://www.thinkingstyles.co.uk 2. O'Connor, Joseph and Seymour, John, 1990, Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming, pp.22-23, Harper Collins, London. 3. Association of Neuro Linguistic Programmers, United Kingdom, http://www.anlp.org 4. Hill,J, Halstead.A, and Beddoes-Jones F "Thinking styles in the sixth form: an exploratory study using a new measure of cognitive style" 10th International Conference on Changing Minds at Harrogate June 2002 5. Louridas A, Halstead A and BeddoesJones F - "Development of personal and team working skills in engineering departments in Greece 4th International Conference on Education held in Athens May 2002 6. Beddoes-Jones F "Thinking styles; Relationship Strategies that work" http://www.thinkingstyles.co.uk 7. Sternberg R.J., & Grigorenko, E (1995). "Styles of thinking in the school" European Journal for High Ability, 6, 201-219 8. Zang, L., 'Do Thinking Styles Contribute to Academic Achievement Beyond self-Rated Abilities?' The Journal of Psychology, 2001, 135 (6), 621-637. 9. Marshall, Summers and Woodnough (1999) "Student's conceptions of learning in

an engineering context, Higher Education 29 pp.329-343 10. Felder, R.M. and Silverman, L.K. "Learning Styles and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education." Engineering Education, 78 (7), 674 681, 1988. 11. Kolb, D.A, Rubin, I and Osland J (1995), Organisational Behaviour, an experimental approach (6th Ed) Prentice Hall. 12. Herrmann Brain dominance model Herrmann, N.The Creative Brain. Lake Lure, NC: Brain Books, 1990. 13. Honey, P. and Mumford, A., (1982), Manual of Learning Styles, P.Honey, London 14. McCaulley, M.H., Macdaid, G.P., and Granade, J.G. "ASEE-MBTI Engineering Consortium: Report of the First Five Years." Presented at the 1985 ASEE Annual Conference, June 1985. 15. McCarthy, B.The 4MAT System: Teaching to Learning Styles with Right/Left Mode Techniques. Barrington, IL: EXCEL, Inc., 1987. 16. Stice, J.E. "Using Kolb's Learning Cycle to Improve Student Learning." Engineering Education, 77, 291 296, 1987. 17. Lumsdaine, M. and Lumsdaine, E. "Thinking Preferences of Engineering Students: Implications for Curriculum Restructuring." Journal of Engineering Education, 84(2), 193 204, 1995.

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18. Halstead, A. and Martin, L.M. " Learning styles: A tool for selecting students for group work" International Journal for Electrical Engineering Education, 39, No.3, July 2002 19. Harb, J.N., Durrant, S.O., and Terry, R.E. "Use of the Kolb Learning Cycle and the 4MAT System in Engineering Education." Journal of Engineering Education , 82(2), 7077, 1993.

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Appendix 1 The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Myers-Briggs Type Indicators Participants may be: extroverts (try things out, focus on the outer world of people) introverts (think things through, focus on the inner world of ideas) sensors (practical, detail-oriented, focus on facts and procedures) intuitors (imaginative, concept-oriented, focus on meanings and possibilities) thinkers (sceptical, tend to make decisions based on logic and rules) feelers (appreciative, tend to make decisions based on personal humanistic considerations) judgers (set and follow agendas, seek closure even with incomplete data) perceivers (adapt to changing circumstances, resist closure to obtain more data). The MBTI type preferences can be combined to form 16 different learning style types. For example, one student may be an ESTP (extravert, sensor, thinker, perceiver), and another may be an INFJ (introvert, intuitor, feeler, judger). This model classifies students according to their preferences on scales derived from psychologist Carl Jung's theory of psychological types. Many thousands of engineering students and hundreds of engineering academic staff have taken the MBTI as part of a research study conducted by a consortium of eight engineering schools in USA (14). One example of MBTI as a diagnostic tool is its use for students having academic difficulties. If the descriptions seem accurate to the students, staff assist the students in devising tasks that capitalise on their strengths as well as addressing weaknesses. Letting the students assess the accuracy of the descriptions is essential. Like all other assessment instruments, the MBTI provides clues, not labels; the student is the ultimate judge of his or her behaviour patterns.

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Appendix 2 Kolb's Learning Style Model

Kolb's Learning Style Model. (11) The four types of learners in this classification scheme are Type 1 (concrete, reflective). A characteristic question of this learning type is "Why?" Type 1 learners respond well to explanations of how course material relates to their experience, their interests, and their future careers. To be effective with Type 1 students, the instructor should function as a motivator. Type 2 (abstract, reflective). A characteristic question of this learning type is "What?" Type 2 learners respond to information presented in an organised, logical fashion and benefit if they have time for reflection.To be effective, the instructor should function as an expert. Type 3 (abstract, active). A characteristic question of this learning type is "How?" Type 3 learners respond to having opportunities to work actively on well-defined tasks and to learn by trial-and-error in an environment that allows them to fail safely.To be effective, the instructor should function as a coach, providing guided practice and feedback. Type 4 (concrete, active). A characteristic question of this learning type is "What if?" Type 4 learners like applying course material in new situations to solve real problems.To be effective, the instructor should stay out of the way, maximising opportunities for the students to discover things for themselves. This model classifies students as having a preference for either a concrete experience

or abstract conceptualisation (how they take information in) or an active experimentation or reflective observation (how they internalise information).The Kolb Learning Style Inventory has been administered widely within the engineering education (11,15) One specific example is in assisting chemical engineers to develop technical communication skills. Used to assess their learning style, the students kept journals in which they described conflicts and accomplishments within their lab groups, relating them to the group members' learning styles. It was found that teaching students about learning styles helps them learn the course material because they become aware of their thinking processes.The major success is the development of interpersonal skills that are critical to success in any professional career (16).

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Appendix 3 Herrman Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI)
Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) (12) The four modes or quadrants are: Quadrant A (left brain, cerebral). Logical, analytical, quantitative, factual, critical; Quadrant B (left brain, limbic). Sequential, organised, planned, detailed, structured; Quadrant C (right brain, limbic). Emotional, interpersonal, sensory, kinaesthetic, symbolic; Quadrant D (right brain, cerebral).Visual, holistic, innovative. This method classifies students in terms of their relative preferences for thinking in four different modes that are based on the taskspecialised functioning of the physical brain. (12) Lumsdaine and Voitle (17) studied the HBDI types of the college's students and faculty. They found that many engineering students and professors were left-brain thinkers logical, analytical, verbal, and sequential.The data also indicated a strong attrition rate among right-brain thinkers, with many dropping out despite earning top grades in analytical courses.The described an inhospitable learning climate in engineering, which does not accommodate right brain thinking preference, even though voices in industry are increasingly demanding engineers with precisely those thinking skills. Students worked in teams formed by the professors to provide balance in HBDI types. Student performance levels and attitudes to the course improved considerably because of these changes

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Appendix 4 Felder-Silverman Learning Style Model
Felder-Silverman Learning Style Model. (10) This model classifies students as: Sensing learners (concrete, practical, oriented toward facts and procedures) Intuitive learners (conceptual, innovative, oriented toward theories and meanings); Visual learners (prefer visual representations of presented material pictures, diagrams, flow charts) Verbal learners (prefer written and spoken explanations); Inductive learners (prefer presentations that proceed from the specific to the general) Deductive learners (prefer presentations that go from the general to the specific); Active learners (learn by trying things out, working with others) Reflective learners (learn by thinking things through, working alone); Sequential learners (linear, orderly, learn in small incremental steps) Global learners (holistic, systems thinkers, learn in large leaps). This model classifies uses an Index of Learning styles (ILS) to classify students on four or five of the learning types. Work has shown engineering staff on average are strongly Quadrant A dominant and would like their students to be that way as well. ILS has been used to assess the learning styles of engineering faculty members and first-year and fourth-year engineering students at university. It was found that staff members were significantly more reflective, intuitive, and sequential than the students. material), and global learners (providing the big picture, showing connections to related material in other courses and to the students' experience (17)

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Appendix 5 Honey and Mumford

Peter Honey and Alan Mumford's Learning Styles questionnaire.(13) This questionnaire directly assesses the four basic types of style in Kolb's model, as shown in Appendix 2 (11).This simple analysis has been used widely through business and education and most recently as a basis for selecting groups on an undergraduate engineering course. (18) Activists - Kolb - Type 1 (concrete, reflective). A characteristic question of this learning type is "Why?" Type 1 learners respond well to explanations of how course material relates to their experience, their interests, and their future careers. Reflectors - Kolb - Type 2 (abstract, reflective). A characteristic question of this learning type is "What?" Type 2 learners respond to information presented in an organized, logical fashion and benefit if they have time for reflection. Theorists - Kolb - Type 3 (abstract, active). A characteristic question of this learning type is "How?" Type 3 learners respond to having opportunities to work actively on welldefined tasks and to learn by trial-and-error in an environment that allows them to fail safely. Pragmatists - Kolb - Type 4 (concrete, active). A characteristic question of this learning type is "What if?" Type 4 learners like applying course material in new situations to solve real problems.

Appendix 6 The Thinking Styles Questionnaire


This can be viewed and downloaded from http://www.thinkingstyles.co.uk/

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Appendix 7 Thinking Styles

Definitions for each of the cognitive styles: Sensory focused dimensions ; exploring sensory representational systems: 1. Visual thinking: the use of pictures, diagrams and visual imagery. 2. Auditory thinking: a focus on words and language, listening and talking. 3. Kinaesthetic thinking: the use of feelings, emotions, intuition and physical exercise. 4. Digital thinking: involves a focus on the facts, and/or the use of data and statistics People focused dimensions ; exploring interactions with people: 5. Internal thinking: relies on own judgements and standards, believes oneself to be right, ignores feedback. 6. External thinking: relies on feedback from others, believes that others are right. 7. Self referenced thinking: puts their own needs first and ignores the needs of other people. 8. Others referenced thinking: responsive to the needs of others and willing to help other people. 9. Matching thinking: wants to fit in, dislikes confrontation and takes a non-challenging approach. 10. Mismatching thinking: dislikes being told what to do, will challenge and confront. 11. Collaborative thinking: involves others, shares information, prefers a team

environment. 12. Competitive thinking: wants to win and better either the competition or ones' own performance. Task focused dimensions ; exploring approaches to tasks and problem solving: 13. Detail Conscious thinking: believes details are important and attends to detailed information. 14. Big Chunk thinking: focuses on general principles and summary information often in terms of key points. 15. Left Brain thinking: processes systematically and in sequence, ordered, completes one task at a time. 16. Right Brain thinking: creative, naturally multi-tasks, has an untidy workspace, works backwards starting from the end. 17. Procedural thinking: procedures are important, follows instructions and the correct way of doing things. 18. Options thinking: explores opportunity and possibility, seeks choice and alternatives, adds to work previously done. 19. Moving Away From thinking: focuses on problems, makes contingency plans, may worry. 20. Moving Towards thinking: focuses on goals and targets, says what they want, has a positive attitude. 21. Reactive thinking: waits, analyses and plans, reviews all the relevant information and considers consequences. 22. Proactive thinking: initiates action, gets on with things, proactive approach. 23. Sameness thinking: seeks stability and the familiar, prefers gradual change,

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notices similarities. 24. Differences thinking: notices what is different, seeks variety, has a high capacity & tolerance for change. 25. Simplicity filter: often simplifies complex issues and prefers things to be easy. 26. Complexity filter: enjoys the challenge of difficulty and of complex issues.

PROGRESS Project Strategy Guide: Thinking Styles of Engineering Students