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Paper: A Review of Personality Type Theory in STEM Education and Implications for First-Year Engineering Teaching Assistants

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Student Division Technical Session 7

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Andrew H. Phillips The Ohio State University

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Andrew Phillips graduated summa cum laude from The Ohio State University in May 2016 with a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and with Honors Research Distinction and again in December 2018 with an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. His engineering education interests include teaching assistants, first-year engineering, systematic literature reviews, instrument development and validation, and personality theory. As a Graduate Teaching Associate for the Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors program, he is heavily involved with developing and teaching laboratory content, leading the maintenance of the in-house robotics controller, and managing the development of the robotics project.

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Krista M. Kecskemety The Ohio State University

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Krista Kecskemety is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. Krista received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2006 and received her M.S. from Ohio State in 2007. In 2012, Krista completed her Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State. Her engineering education research interests include investigating first-year engineering student experiences, faculty experiences, and the connection between the two.

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This paper will present a review of literature on uses of psychology personality type theory in STEM education research with the goal of focusing on how the literature could inform studies investigating the effects of Teaching Assistant (TA) personalities in first-year engineering courses.

Some results will be presented from a systematic literature review which was conducted to gather all articles relating to the use of TAs in STEM education. The focus of the shared systematic literature review results will be on the prevalence of personality-related concepts found in first-year engineering TA literature. First-year engineering is chosen because one goal of a first-year engineering or similar program is to engage the students with engineering and with the institution such that the students become interested in persisting into an engineering major. In many first-year engineering or similar programs which have large course enrollments, teaching assistants are utilized. It is postulated that the personalities of TAs may influence the engagement of the students through TA-student interactions. A description of common TA responsibilities in first-year engineering along with possible connections to personality typing will be presented.

Many personality type measurement instruments exist based on different theories and empirical evidence. Three commonly used personality type instruments in STEM education research are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the True Colors test instruments, and the Five-Factor Model (FFM). The MBTI is derived from Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types and measures a person’s preferences on four dimensions: orientation (introversion, extraversion), cognitive perceiving function (sensing, intuition), cognitive judging function (thinking, feeling), and attitude of the functions (judging, perceiving). The True Colors taxonomy is a simplification of the MBTI relating personality traits to temperaments and colors: gold (guardian), orange (artisan), blue (idealist), and green (rational). The FFM is based on the lexical hypothesis from psychology and measures personality along five scales: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Several past studies within the STEM education research literature making use of these three personality type instruments for students and for instructors will be discussed.

Based on the literature review of personality type usage in STEM education for students and for instructors and based on the identification of TA-student interactions within first-year engineering programs, ideas for potential future work relating to TA personality types will be provided. These future study possibilities will focus on investigating the gaps in literature on TA personality types and their influences on student engagement and other outcomes.

Phillips, A. H., & Kecskemety, K. M. (2021, July), Paper: A Review of Personality Type Theory in STEM Education and Implications for First-Year Engineering Teaching Assistants Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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