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Beth Person

Toolkit: Improving My Learning and Grades

Law School Transparency

Introduction 00

Thriving in learning environments, whether at school or new on the job, requires self-awareness and an effort to change. This report can help you in that development process.

Your personalized report is split into two sections. The first section includes chapters that will help you think through your classroom engagement and studying. The second section includes chapters aimed at those who teach you, but still offers insights for you to utilize.

Student Insights: Putting yourself in certain environments or engaging in particular ways can help you improve school performance and educational attainment.

Staying Engaged at School: Becoming more self-aware can help students stay more engaged at school.

School Challenges and Tips: Understanding your preferred learning environment can help you build healthy learning spaces or navigate non-optimal ones.

School Cautions: Insight into the parts of your personality that, if not managed, may cause problems in learning.

Making the Most of Study Time: Quick tips and advice for studying more effectively.

Keys to Better Learning: Identify and leverage your keys to better learning outcomes.

Learning with Cognitive Preferences: Insight into instructional approaches to teaching you based on how you are energized and take in information.

Tips for Teaching Me: Looks at how you take in information to inform how you can be better taught.

Cautions for Teaching Me: Looks at possible personality tendencies and preferences, which could cause educational challenges, and suggests how to consciously optimize each aspect for your success.

Personal Connection I Prefer: Insight into your communication preferences so that you can feel respected and understood, which will help assist your learning.

Motivating Words: Words that can create learning environments where you can thrive.

Student Insights 01

Key insight for students at school

As a student ...

  • I enjoy learning that is thought-provoking and challenging, where exploratory digressions are a welcome break from routine.
  • An option to extend my studies if I wish is helpful as I can be frustrated if my learning is restricted.
  • The teachers must earn my respect by their expertise.

PLEASE NOTE!!! - The learning environment described suggests the optimal situation. It does not mean that Beth cannot learn in anything other than this environment. It describes the circumstances in which Beth will be most energized, motivated and supported to learn.

We can all learn in many different ways, sometimes we learn more when we are challenged by a different style of learning. However, if our preferred style is unavailable most of the time our learning will be limited.

Independent As A Student:

  • Thinks for a while before answering
  • Prefers to learn by reading and listening
  • Finds a noisy classrooms very distracting
  • Likes working alone or with one other person
  • Likes to understand

Imaginative As A Student:

  • Wants freedom to explore what inspires them
  • Enjoys creative projects
  • Would rather imagine than observe
  • Likes to know the big picture first
  • Wants originality of work to be valued

Questioning As A Student:

  • Likes to be challenged
  • Enjoys questioning
  • Would rather be concise
  • Likes to know the point of the lesson
  • Wants to be respected by the teacher

Curious As A Student:

  • Like teachers who are spontaneous
  • Energy arrives just in time to hand work in
  • Likes distractions from the routine
  • Likes to work on lots of projects at once
  • Does best work when under pressure of a deadline
Student Insights Authors
Original work by: Sue Blair © Step Research Corporation

Staying Engaged at School 02

Becoming more self-aware can help students stay more engaged at school.

Learning Environment

Beth’s personal style means that she will tend to:
  • Gravitate toward faculty members and fellow students based on their competence.
  • Want her work to be evaluated in terms of objective standards.
  • Perform better in courses with a strong foundation in logic.
  • Structure her response to another person’s ideas around revealing the flaws in that person’s position.

Growth Opportunities to Help Beth Shine

To expand her perspective and work more effectively with others, it can help Beth if she
  • Stops to consider people’s feelings and individual circumstances when evaluating the soundness of ideas.
  • Tries putting herself in the other person’s shoes to increase her understanding of that person’s point of view.
  • Stretches her natural style to include components that are not as practiced to increase her competence and make her better able to appreciate a variety of competencies in others.

Applying Engagement Styles to Help Beth Get Unstuck

Your dominant engagement style describes how you prefer to interact and engage with others, especially when working on a group project. Knowing your engagement style can be helpful in identifying what roles you prefer to play when interacting with your fellow students and how you can make your best contributions. Each engagement style has specific gifts that can help make group projects more successful. When an engagement style is overused, however, this can threaten a project's success.

Beth's Engagement Style:

Refine for Perfection
Advantages at School

Tweak to improve 
Quietly fixing things

Refine for Perfection
Pitfalls at School

Never finished updating

Lack of decision

Activity to improve Beth’s school work

Beth risks putting off taking action and can get stuck continually fine-tuning her work from a sense that it must be perfect. This can threaten her success in school.

Activity to improve Beth’s school work

  1. From the list below choose a strategy based on effective use of the other three Engagements Styles.
  2. Think about how this strategy could help you limit the time spent on fine-tuning your work and instead help you begin work even without complete information.
  3. Craft a couple of sentences where you detail what you might do differently and make a list of the potential advantages of varying your approach.
  • Carefully UnderstandMaking a plan that forces me to get started and then keeps me on track even when I’m not sure about the perfect approach
  • Dynamically ExploreSharing a draft version of my ideas with trusted others to get feedback
  • Organize & DirectFocusing on the outcomes I want to achieve as I sort through my options
Staying Engaged at School Authors
Original work by: Elizabeth Hirsh Katherine Hirsh © Step Research Corporation

School Challenges and Tips 03

School Challenges and Tips

This section describes your preferred learning environment. With this information to hand, you can understand why certain learning settings probably suit you very well and why others may not. This information may be useful when you can explain your needs better in order to build a healthier learning space for you, or to understand why you may be less motivated in certain situations. These tips are designed to help you manage your natural learning needs.

People do not learn or take in information all in the same way. Often we assume that the method we use for taking in information and controlling our memory, or our ability to concentrate, is identical to everyone else’s. We study with friends, family members or fellow classmates, however our preferred method of taking in information is often vastly different than that of our study partners or family members. Our strengths we have developed are an amazing combination of our environment, our temperament, our nutrition and the gifts we were given at birth. Becoming aware of both our gifts and our challenges gives us the ability to create a roadmap for learning customized to our individual needs.

In Class

  • Once engaged Beth can be a relentless learner with a piercing focus.
  • She may be pre-occupied with her own internal thoughts and ideas.
  • She is respectful of the learning environment when she is comfortable that she is in competent hands.
  • An internal drive to understand is a great motivator.

Independent Study

  • This is energising and allows Beth to tap into her gifts.
  • When by herself she can get lost in her own world of ideas and innovations which may be productive but may also be off task.
  • Caught up in her intellectual puzzling Beth may leave what actually needs to be done to the last minute or beyond.

Beth's Learning Needs

Independent Student Learning Needs:

  • Time to think before responding
  • Opportunities to work independently
  • A pace that allows time to rehearse internally
  • Appreciation for their reflective approach
  • Time for in-depth study in areas of personal interest

Imaginative Student Learning Needs:

  • Start with the big picture and follow with specifics
  • To be valued for thinking outside the box
  • Have the freedom to explore ideas independently
  • Be accepted for unconventional ideas and practices
  • Opportunities to innovate

Questioning Student Learning Needs:

  • Motivated by logic
  • Experience competence and success
  • Are respected for skills, abilities and gifts
  • Evidence of progress to be communicated
  • Criticism is constructive and well documented

Curious Student Learning Needs:

  • Choice
  • Most comfortable with an open, casual atmosphere
  • Encouragement to explore areas of personal interest
  • An environment where risk taking is respected
  • Opportunities to learn through play and novelty

Beth's Learning Tips

Independent Student Learning Tips:

  • Plan for having personal space in your day
  • Write down questions you want to ask
  • Find a way to ask questions privately
  • Avoid time pressures where possible
  • Recognise when participation is important

Imaginative Student Learning Tips:

  • Follow your hunches and inspirations, they are a gift
  • It's OK to go off track but keep the task in mind
  • Highlight the facts, they may be important
  • Combine pictures and words when note taking
  • Realise that some great ideas may not be practical

Questioning Student Learning Tips:

  • It's OK to admit you don't understand; keep asking questions until you do
  • Critiquing comes naturally, remember to find the positives as well as the negatives
  • Find the right person to talk to when things seem unfair
  • Reflect on negative feedback before reacting to it

Curious Student Learning Tips:

  • Enjoy having an inquiring mind
  • Block off time before a deadline and keep it clear
  • Manage expectations on time when working in groups
  • It's OK to go off task but know when to get back on
  • Use natural bursts of mental or physical energy to study and then take a break
School Challenges and Tips Authors
Original work by: Sue Blair Mary Anne Sutherland © Step Research Corporation

School Cautions 04

School cautions

This section represents parts of this student’s personality that, if not managed, may cause problems with the flow of education, interfering with either their learning or disrupting a class. This information can assist all involved with the responsibility of this student’s education to acknowledge them as a unique learner, who craves an environment specific to their learning needs and gifts, in order to feel comfortable learning and reach their full potential.

Part of our human condition is that we have strengths in some areas and challenges in others. Knowing this about yourself can help you to become comfortable with yourself as a student, avoid potential downfalls and prepare for compulsory work that may not suit your strengths or preferences. Becoming an active participant in your own education will help you to retain, discover or rediscover your confidence, dignity and passion as a student.

Cautions

  • Beth typically has a strong need for privacy, an intense interest in just a few areas, and a dislike of small talk, which may make Beth appear distant, anti-social, or confusing to her peers.
  • She may be impatient with those who are less capable.
  • Beth may walk away from situations she sees as unjust, unfair, illogical, or not relevant to her.
  • If pushed Beth may also challenge authority for the same reasons.
  • Managing time, deadlines and completion are often problematic.
  • Concentrating on theory she may miss the important details.
  • Beth can appear compliant whilst ignoring what she sees as stupid rules.

Independent Student Cautions:

  • Speaking up when just listening is preferred
  • Focusing on the task when distracted by thought
  • Self-esteem issues if extraversion is more valued
  • Sharing thoughts which are only half-formed
  • Taking the risk to actively participate

Imaginative Student Cautions:

  • Being on task when inspirations are more compelling
  • Having the patience to follow a course sequentially
  • The practicalities of life and learning
  • Misinterpretations due to jumping to conclusions
  • Harnessing bursts of creative

Questioning Student Cautions:

  • Resilience if achievement is below personal expectation or if something seems pointless
  • Asking for help
  • Expanding answers to gain maximum points
  • Knowing that mistakes are OK if you learn from them
  • Losing an argument with grace and dignity

Curious Student Cautions:

  • Being realistic about which deadlines can be extended
  • Resisting internal or external distractions when bored
  • Accurately assessing how long a task will take
  • Having patience with the needs of others to conform
  • Knowing when to stop gathering information and turn creativity to productivity
School Cautions Authors
Original work by: Sue Blair Mary Anne Sutherland © Step Research Corporation

Making the Most of Study Time 05

Quick tips and advice for studying more effectively

Making the Most of Study Time: Time and Energy Overview

Students can get stressed out over how to manage their study time. While time management approaches do help some students, it can help to suggest that Beth pay attention to managing her energy levels as well. To get into this mindset Beth should try to:
  • Understand her personal time clock and attempt to study when she is most alert and creative.
  • Learn about her stress triggers and explore different activities to see which help to reduce stress.
  • Honor her physical needs while studying by moving, stretching, eating, sleeping, and taking breaks when needed.

Making the Most of Study Time: Maintaining Energy

To remain energized when studying, as an ongoing practice Beth should:
  • Make an extra effort to find a quiet spot on her own, or with one or two fellow students.
  • Write out her ideas, sometimes just having to organize her thoughts in writing can help her to understand the material.
  • Take breaks to be alone to reflect and recharge especially when she has had a lot of interaction time with others.

Making the Most of Study Time: Improving Understanding

To increase her understanding when studying, Beth should:
  • Ask herself what are the interesting themes related to the material, and when stuck, circle back to those patterns to re-focus her efforts.
  • Look for or ask for theories to explain why this material is important in order to help her to better understand it.
  • Draw on her imagination to explore if and how what is being taught corresponds with future trends.
Making the Most of Study Time Authors
Original work by: Elizabeth Hirsh Katherine Hirsh © Step Research Corporation

Keys To Better Learning 06

Helping a student identify and leverage their keys to better learning

Identifying Keys to Better Learning

When making suggestions to Beth about how she might have more success in school:
  • Gain credibility and trust by being flexible and allowing her time to reflect on her own.
  • Offer guidance in a logical and objective manner.
  • Give her the underlying significance of what you are suggesting and emphasize how considering this can expand her perspective and open up possibilities to think creatively.
  • Express information objectively so Beth will best hear you.
  • Don’t be intimidated if Beth is skeptical about the concepts you provide, this is how she learns best. Act as a neutral sounding board so that she can feel comfortable being herself around you – what she wants most is to grasp the logical basis of ideas.
Beth may tune out if learning opportunities demand:
  • Participating in group discussions and doing oral presentations instead of independent study and written reports.
  • Hearing about details and specifics first instead of listening to topics described in big picture terms.
  • Building social connections and people skills instead of running statistics or analyzing data.
  • Setting benchmarks and scheduling appointments to monitor understanding and progress instead of free-flowing course goals and ad-hoc get-togethers to strengthen learning.
Fostering Clarity & Fresh Perspectives
  • Tell Beth that when people are feeling confused on any topic, it can affect their experience of school even if their problems aren’t directly related to their coursework. At such times, people tend to seek clarity in different ways.
  • To help Beth gain perspective, have a discussion with her where you support her in drawing on her natural style of reasoning by asking "What is the most logical and objectively correct thing to do?"
  • Reassure Beth that the point is not to have the perfect answer, but instead to free up her thinking and start a conversation about options.
  • If Beth is really stuck, you may want to try asking her this stretch question designed to shake up her typical approach to unraveling confusing or difficult issues: "What is the most immediately enjoyable thing to do?"
  • Help Beth get the most out of the stretch question above (especially if she has trouble with it) by explaining that “This question is actually one that some people – people quite different from you – would naturally ask themselves, so it’s totally normal that it might seem foreign to you, or, for you to feel that it is not even a valid question to consider. So, while it probably feels a bit awkward, being willing to think about this question and trying to look at things from another’s vantage point, might just turn out to be a useful and important way expand your thinking.”
  • Use this as an opportunity to encourage Beth to stay curious about the methods others use to learn and grow when faced with something confusing or difficult. Even when these methods don’t match hers, she may be surprised at what she discovers, even if all she discovers is how not to do things.

Practice new skills: Homework/In-Session Activity

Enhancing Your Learning Experience
  1. Ask Beth to look at this list of things that could support her learning and pick out TWO items.
  2. Have Beth brainstorm possible ways of adding these to her routine or increasing their frequency if she is already doing them. This can be homework or you can work on it together in the session.
  3. Suggest Beth reflect on how these could improve her learning experience. Ask Beth:
    1. What helps you stay positive and motivated about school? How might some of these strategies increase those feelings?
    2. What helps you to cope when things feel tough or overwhelming? How might some of these techniques improve your coping skills yet further?

LIST OF ITEMS TO GIVE Beth – She picks TWO

Beth Person

Enhancing Your Learning Experience

Instructions For Using This

  1. Look at this list of things that could support your learning and pick out TWO items.
  2. Brainstorm possible ways of adding these to your routine or increasing their frequency if you are already doing them. It is okay to have someone with work you on this part.
  3. Reflect on how these could improve your learning experience. Questions to ask yourself:
    1. What helps you stay positive and motivated about school? How might some of these strategies increase those feelings?
    2. What helps you to cope when things feel tough or overwhelming? How might some of these techniques improve your coping skills yet further?

I can enhance my educational experience by:

  • Having unstructured free periods where spontaneity is the order of the day.
  • Taking courses that highlight cutting edge theory to keep my enthusiasm stoked.
  • Finding time and space for contemplation on a regular basis.
  • Being in the company of respected and trusted others whose competence and intelligence I admire.
  • Prioritizing fun, laughter and taking care of my physical needs as an important component in maintaining academic excellence.
Keys To Better Learning Authors
Original work by: Elizabeth Hirsh Katherine Hirsh © Step Research Corporation

Learning with Cognitive Preferences 07

Four instruction approaches based on cognitive processing preferences

The four combinations of how we are energized and take in information make up the four cognitive processes and the four Instructional Approaches that are the framework for Doable Differentiation. Using the cognitive processing framework (see also Visual Type™) for differentiation gets at the root differences in the instructional approaches teachers employ and students find most natural. Not every minute of the day needs to be differentiated! Sometimes, every student does need to be doing the same thing at the same time. Students benefit from spending some learning time in each of the approaches.

Preferred Learning Approaches

More Likely Beth

Let Me Lead As I Learn Let Me Lead As I Learn

Question & Connection

  • Start with the big picture, not the details
  • Let me dream big without penalties
  • Let me find a new way to do it
  • Let me experiment
  • Give me choices
  • Keep changing what we do
  • Let me teach or tell someone what I’ve learned
  • Let me be in charge of something
  • Let me talk or work in groups
  • Let me come up with my own ideas

Less Likely Beth

Let Me Do Something Let Me Do Something

Experience & Movement
  • Start with hands-on activities
  • Give me steps to follow
  • Build on what I already know
  • Tell me why I’m learning something
  • Give me chances to talk, move, and work in groups
  • Set a realistic deadline
  • Give me examples
  • Provide clear expectations
  • Go light on theory
  • Let me apply it immediately

Let Me Follow My Own Lead Let Me Follow My Own Lead

Vision & Interpretation
  • Let me delve deep into things that interest me
  • Avoid repetition and routine
  • Let me figure out for myself how to do things
  • Give me choices
  • Listen to my ideas
  • Let me learn independently
  • Let me start with my imagination
  • Help me bring what I envision into reality
  • Give free rein to my creativity and curiosity
  • Provide references for me to build my own knowledge base

Least Likely Beth

Let Me Know What To Do Let Me Know What To Do

Structure & Certainty
  • Set clear expectations and goals
  • Show me examples
  • Provide the steps in writing
  • Answer my questions as I have them
  • Give me time to think
  • Let me work with and memorize facts
  • Avoid too many surprises
  • Build on what I already know
  • Let me know along the way if I’m doing things right
  • Connect content with past efforts and experience
Learning with Cognitive Preferences Authors
Original work by: Jane Kise © Step Research Corporation

Tips for Teaching Me 08

How best to teach this student

This section looks at the four key areas of this student’s personality and how certain ways of teaching can substantially assist their learning. (Student: You may wish to read through these points and write down the comments that are most relevant for you.)

To acknowledge individual differences in education is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Boredom is not just annoying; it may dramatically affect a student’s brain. So, often learners are not incapable, but rather their natural styles of learning are in direct opposition to the structure of activity. Since experience impacts our mind, we can literally improve or deteriorate depending on how we value the learning and stimulation of our minds. Our natural styles guide how our mind prefers to take in information.

Teaching Beth Tips

Teaching Independent Students:

  • Private feedback is most effective
  • Expect a 'think first, do later' approach
  • Give plenty of time for mental preparation
  • Encourage expression of ideas in writing
  • Ask in-depth questions and expect a pause before responding

Teaching Imaginative Students:

  • Set boundaries but allow for some deviation
  • Advocate proof reading to minimise inaccuracies
  • Find multiple ways to teach the same thing
  • Encourage expression in a variety of forms
  • Provide non-sequential learning options

Teaching Questioning Students:

  • Treat learners of all ages as equal partners
  • Allow learners to critique honestly with no penalty
  • Offer advice using logical reasoning
  • Give recognition on completion of the task, not before
  • Expect debate and argument just for the fun of it

Teaching Curious Students:

  • Create opportunities for personalised exploration
  • Praise an ability to produce results under pressure
  • Have multiple small deadlines
  • Expect learning to progress in bursts and lulls
  • Avoid too much repetition
Tips for Teaching Me Authors
Original work by: Sue Blair Mary Anne Sutherland © Step Research Corporation

Cautions For Teaching Me 09

How best to teach this student

We all have our blind spots, which we may remain unaware of for many years. This section illuminates possible personality tendencies and preferences, which could cause educational challenges, and suggests how to consciously optimize each aspect for this student's success. Realizing and honoring this student’s individual style preferences,with no judgement, can be the first step to overcoming or sidestepping negative learning experiences arise from them while narrowing the gap between this student’s potential and their actual achievement.

Teaching Beth Cautions

Independent Student Cautions:

  • Introversion does not relate to shyness
  • Passive facial expressions can be hard to 'read'
  • A quiet manner may lead to underestimating ability or be misinterpreted as boredom
  • May have difficulty translating thoughts into words
  • Could over-think questions, assignments or projects

Imaginative Student Cautions:

  • Learners can be upset when work produced fails to meet their vision or dream
  • They may display unexpected ability with complex issues and difficulty with learning the basics
  • Once a concept is understood they often move on, despite the fact the work may not be finished

Questioning Student Cautions:

  • Learners may tune out if they don't understand the reason for the learning
  • Eliminate unnecessary detail that doesn't enable better grades - get to the point quickly
  • Learners may not show how they feel but don't assume they are not feeling anything

Curious Student Cautions:

  • The drive to experience trumps the need to complete
  • The best work is done when pressure-prompted
  • Teach timing rather than lecture on responsibility
  • Aim to provide a flexible educational experience
  • Many things may get left or lost; try not to sweat the small stuff
Cautions For Teaching Me Authors
Original work by: Sue Blair Mary Anne Sutherland © Step Research Corporation

Personal Connection I Prefer 010

How best to reach this student

We all want to be communicated with in ways that make us feel respected and understood. This section offers strategies for the people assisting this student’s learning to connect with them in meaningful ways to which the student can relate.(Student: It could be important to make these preferences known to the significant educators and family in your life, perhaps by having a discussion with them.

Our choices and style preferences are at the core of what it means to be an individual. To be seen, really seen, for who we are, to be known for both our gifts and our challenges, connects us to others. This vulnerable, authentic self expression encourages the learner to bravely take the risks necessary to explore unknown territory and tackle new challenges. The learner may then tackle new or uncharted territory. As the saying goes, “To successfully teach me is first to see me.”

Personal Connection With Teachers

  • It is easy to assume that Beth is self-sufficient, trusting in her own ability. This is not always the case. She does need to know that she is well respected for her intellect.
  • Having a teacher who clearly demonstrates expertise from the outset is very important. She will opt out if this is not the case.
  • Once a connection is established Beth prefers to be left to her own devices. Check on her when necessary. No fussing.
  • If Beth does share personal information this is a clear sign you are highly valued and you have her full attention.
  • She likes to be considered as equal partners in her own learning. Authority figures are listened to for their integrity not their rank.
  • Be aware that Beth can be very reluctant to ask for help.
Personal Connection I Prefer Authors
Original work by: Sue Blair Mary Anne Sutherland © Step Research Corporation

Motivating Words 011

Different groups of motivating words that trigger the best environment for taking in information.

Preferred Motivated Words

Based on preferences for taking in information.

More Likely Beth

Let Me Lead As I Learn Question & Connection

  • Create
  • discover
  • pretend
  • design
  • develop
  • discuss
  • synthesize
  • collaborate
  • find a new…
  • generate
  • visualize
  • evaluate
  • problem-solve
  • experiment
  • invent
  • hypothesize

Less Likely Beth

Let Me Do Something Experience & Movement

  • Build
  • show
  • assemble
  • tell
  • discover
  • make
  • demonstrate
  • figure out
  • touch
  • design
  • suggest
  • solve
  • choose
  • construct
  • examine
  • explore
  • discuss

Let Me Follow My Own Lead Vision & Interpretation

  • Read
  • think
  • consider
  • design
  • evaluate
  • clarify
  • speculate
  • dream
  • envision
  • paraphrase
  • brainstorm
  • create
  • elaborate
  • illustrate
  • write
  • reflect
  • chew on
  • make connections
  • compare
  • contrast
  • compose

Least Likely Beth

Let Me Know What To Do Structure & Certainty

  • Read
  • identify
  • list
  • label
  • name
  • notice
  • observe
  • apply
  • analyze
  • graph
  • examine
  • work
  • prepare
  • do
  • organize
  • complete
  • answer
  • listen
Motivating Words Authors
Original work by: Jane Kise © Step Research Corporation