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hi. i'm an educator working in the domain of learning research. i came across this a couple of years back and found it incredibly insightful, so i'm posting the series here:

MEET YOUR STUDENTS
1. STAN AND NATHAN

Richard M. Felder
Department of Chemical Engineering
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7905

Stan and Nathan are juniors in chemical engineering and roommates at a large midwestern university. They are similar in many ways. Both enjoy partying, midnight pizza runs, listening to rock and watching TV. Both did well in science and math in high school, although Nathan's grades were consistently higher. Both found their mass and energy balance course tough (although they agree the text was superb), thermodynamics incomprehensible, English boring, and other humanities courses useless. Both have girl friends who occasionally accuse them of being "too logical."

For all their similarities, however, they are fundamentally different. If single words were chosen to describe each of them, Stan's would be "practical" and Nathan's would be "scholarly" (or "spacy," depending on whom you ask). Stan is a mechanical wizard and is constantly sought after by friends with ailing cars and computers, while changing a light bulb is at the outer limits of Nathan's mechanical ability. Stan notices his surroundings, tends to know where he put things, and remembers people he only met once; Nathan notices very little around him, misplaces things constantly, and may not recognize someone he has known for years. Nathan subscribes to Scientific American and reads science fiction and mystery novels voraciously; Stan only reads when he has to. Stan has trouble following lectures; Nathan follows them easily, but when instructors spend a lot of class time going through detailed derivations or homework assignments he already understands he gets bored and his attention wanders.

When Stan takes a test he reads the first problem, reads it again, and if the test is open--book tries to find an identical worked--out problem and copy the solution. If he can't find one, he searches for suitable formulas to plug into. He frequently rereads the problem while working on it and repeats each numerical calculation just to be on the safe side. When he has gone as far as he can go he repeats the process on the second problem. He usually runs out of time and gets class average or lower on the test. Nathan reads test problems only up to the point where he thinks he knows how to proceed and then plunges in. He works quickly and usually finishes early and gets high grades. However, he sometimes blows tests because he makes careless errors and lacks the patience to check his calculations, or he fails to read a question thoroughly enough and misses important data or answers a different question than was asked.

The one place where Stan outshines Nathan academically is the laboratory. Stan is sure--handed and meticulous and seems to have an instinct for setting up and running experiments, while Nathan rarely gets anything to work right. Nathan almost had a nervous breakdown in analytical chemistry: he would repeat a quantitative analysis five times, get five completely different results, and finally average the two closest estimates and hope for the best. Stan, on the other hand, would do the analysis twice, get almost perfect agreement between the results, and head for a victory soda while Nathan was still weighing out the reagents for his second attempt.

Stan did well in only one non--laboratory engineering course. The instructor used a lot of visual demonstrations---transparencies, pictures and diagrams, and actual equipment; provided clear outlines of problem solution procedures; and gave practical applications of all theories and formulas the students were required to learn. Stan claimed that it was the first course he had taken that seemed to have anything to do with the real world. Nathan thought the course was okay but he could have done with a bit less plug-and-chug on the homework.

Stan is a sensor; Nathan is an intuitor.(1) Sensors favor information that comes in through their senses and intuitors favor internally-generated information (memory, conjecture, interpretation). Sensors are attentive to details and don't like abstract concepts; intuitors can handle abstraction and are bored by details. A student who complains about things having nothing to do with the real world is almost certainly a sensor. Sensors like well-defined problems that can be solved by standard methods; intuitors prefer problems that call for innovation. Individuals of both types may be excellent engineers: the observant and methodical sensors tend to be good experimentalists and plant engineers, and the insightful and innovative intuitors tend to be good theoreticians, designers, and inventors.

The degree to which someone favors sensing or intuition can be determined with the Myers--Briggs Type Indicator, a personality inventory that has been administered to hundreds of thousands of people including many engineering students and faculty members. Most undergraduate engineering students have been found to be sensors and most engineering professors are intuitors. A mismatch thus exists between the teaching styles of most professors, who emphasize basic principles, mathematical models and thought problems, and the learning styles of most undergraduates, who favor observable phenomena, hard facts, and problems with well-defined solution methods. Intuitive students would consequently be expected to enjoy a clear advantage in school, and indeed intuitors have been found to get consistently higher grades except in courses that emphasize facts, experimentation, and repetitive calculations.

For many sensing students, the disparity between the way they learn best and the way they are generally taught is too great: they get poor grades no matter how hard they work, become disillusioned, and drop out. Felder and Silverman^1 give several ways instructors can accommodate the learning styles of these students without compromising their own teaching styles or their ability to get through the syllabus. The accommodation is well worth attempting: sensors are sorely needed in industry and may do exceptionally well there if they manage to survive school.

Postscript: 15 years later. Nathan graduated magna cum laude, went to graduate school and got a Ph.D., worked for several years in the research and development division of a major chemical company, got several important patents, moved to manufacturing, and ended up as a group leader supervising a team of designers and systems analysts. Stan struggled through the curriculum, graduated in the bottom third of his class, and got a production engineering job in the same company Nathan went to work for. His mechanical talents soon became apparent and he was put in charge of a trouble--shooting team that came to be in great demand throughout the plant. His managerial skills then led to a rapid series of promotions culminating in his becoming the youngest corporate vice president in company history. Among the thousands of employees in the branch he heads is Nathan, with whom he gets together occasionally to talk over old times. Stan thoroughly enjoys these meetings; Nathan also enjoys them but perhaps not as much.

source
 

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Well, good to know I have no potential to ever be as intelligent as an intuitor, or to be successful in anything that requires complex thought...

I'm kidding, but come on...
Not really sure you read that correctly. The article just said we do better in school because it's tailored to our strong suits. When it comes to actual application and detail orientation you guys have us beat.
 

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As an iNtuitive, I've always been frustrated with being taught the WHAT's and the HOW's, but not the WHY's. Personally I can very hardly understand anything without looking at the whole picture. My guess would be Sensors are more into the details and processes and less into the big picture.

And also, I think there's a stereotype about N's and us being "academic". If you look at the ENTJ section, you can see many of us bashing college and talking about dropping out. We look for the higher and broader meaning of things, but that doesn't mean we enjoy academia as it is today. Personally, the conventionalism/isolationism I find in universities drives me insane.
 

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Thanks caffeine-buff. I can relate to much of it. especially the part about not reading the questions thoroughly enough. I think intuitive s thrive on essay questions where we can elaborate and bring in information from everywhere.
 

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Well, good to know I have no potential to ever be as intelligent as an intuitor, or to be successful in anything that requires complex thought...

I'm kidding, but come on...
At the end of the article it said Stan became Nathan's boss. He was the sensor. It's not about intelligence, it's about how one gathers information. One is better suited towards one area and the other towards another. Just different ways of thinking.

I thought the article was fairly unbiased.
 

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Hmm, interestingly I found I was better at doing written work than lab experiments. I might well be the same as Stan if I found lab stuff remotely interesting though, maybe it's just because I don't enjoy it that I suck at it.

I do see their point about calculations, to an extent. There were times when I would just look for actual calculation examples, mostly because I hadn't bothered to learn the theory (I was very lazy with maths), I could take either Nathan or Stan's approach, Stan's was just easier when I wasn't interested enough to take in the theory I was learning. For Statistics I would take Stan's approach, Pure Maths I tended to take the Nathan approach, not sure what the implications for that are...
 

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Sorry, I didn't mean to whinge about bias. It's just that I'm in my last year of high school and it's an enormous part of my life at the moment, it's what I focus all my energy on. I feel like my education is the only real purpose my life has at this point in time. (I know I have an incredibly limited perspective, but that's just the way it feels.) This article implies that a sensor couldn't possibly do as well in school as an intuitor, except for the few areas that are tailored to their specific skills (as a person, not as a sensor).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Sorry, I didn't mean to whinge about bias. It's just that I'm in my last year of high school and it's an enormous part of my life at the moment, it's what I focus all my energy on. I feel like my education is the only real purpose my life has at this point in time. (I know I have an incredibly limited perspective, but that's just the way it feels.) This article implies that a sensor couldn't possibly do as well in school as an intuitor, except for the few areas that are tailored to their specific skills (as a person, not as a sensor).
hey. fwiw, i wanted to share this: i am a global learner, not a sequential learner. i suspect many other INTJs are too - we tend to break down things and analyse them and start making connections between abstractions naturally. sounds good, right? BUT. through school i was pretty much an academic nonentity. schooling tends to be deeply biased towards sequential learners. the only subjects i used to ace in were the ones i liked, meaning i didnt pay much attention in classes and learnt them in my own fashion by myself. it was only in college that i slowly started figuring out this part of how my brain worked, and then i was the academic stud. :)

more, even now, while i run rings around my colleagues when it comes to curriculum design, i still suck at the following conventions part of my job. in school, i sucked at the lab work: i could handle the theory but messing with all those things? meh.

what i'm leading up to, is that you can deliberately use your strengths and consciously compensate for your weaker areas: nobody has the perfect deal in school or in the workplace. those of us who stand out are simply those of us who try harder and smarter. so no, you're not innately handicapped or something. our education system just sucks for everyone. there are in fact very few people whom it suits and empowers. there are simply more people who survive despite it than because of it.
 

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Once you know how you are wired then you can capitalize on it.Also what needs to be taken into consideration is learning styles, like in the multiple intelligences. I am a aural learner and pretty much talked my way through my schools. It made a huge difference. I focused on classes and majors that made use of that strength. Read: music and speech classes.
 

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Interesting read. I could relate to most of the intuitive stuff, reading voraciously even when I don't have to, prone to making careless errors on exams, and frustration with lab work. I particularly related to Nathan in this paragraph. It almost identically described my own experiences with chemistry labs. Usually I knew what was supposed to happen in theory but had a hard time getting the results I was "supposed" to get. It seemed to be opposite among my S classmates. They often had great lab technique and no problem getting accurate and consistent results but they often struggled with the theory.

The one place where Stan outshines Nathan academically is the laboratory. Stan is sure--handed and meticulous and seems to have an instinct for setting up and running experiments, while Nathan rarely gets anything to work right. Nathan almost had a nervous breakdown in analytical chemistry: he would repeat a quantitative analysis five times, get five completely different results, and finally average the two closest estimates and hope for the best. Stan, on the other hand, would do the analysis twice, get almost perfect agreement between the results, and head for a victory soda while Nathan was still weighing out the reagents for his second attempt.
 

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I find the whole subject very interesting. Something that I find intriguing is how Sensors are often called the "hands-on" learners. However, the actual "hands-on" learning types - the kinesthetic learners - are only around 5% of the population. Most people are visual. 65%. And then there's the auditory learners. 30%.

I am pretty sure that learning styles are pretty evenly distributed across MBTI type. However, I think that Se and Ne tend to be more right-brained functions. I'm not so sure about Ni and Si. I have people who would argue for either case. I do know without a doubt that Ne tends to be more right-brained. I am a kinesthetic learner, ENFP, and find school rather difficult despite that fact that I know I'm not an idiot. The plot thickens when I figure out that people who are right-brain dominant are described as being highly "visual" when I know that I am not visual at all. In any way, shape, or form. I have found that extremely visual people (lots of artists) tend to be a bit more right brained, but they tend to be quite balanced. The right hemisphere is also the more "kinesthetic" side of the brain.

As for who tends to do well in school or not, visual learners on the whole tend to do better than auditory or kinesthetic learners. It should also be noted that most people do tend to be left-brain dominant.

Well, back to the main point: I really don't think that the education system is geared towards either Sensors or Intuitives. I am inclined to believe that the education system in the way it is structured just generally fails miserably at life. Especially public education. The current system of education was designed in the intellectual culture of the enlightenment and during the economic situation of the industrial revolution. The idea of public education was a very new idea and people were thinking specifically about what subjects would help the more poor and rather uneducated side of the population, and above all, how to get them a job. Which is why the system is structured the way it is now. Unfortunately, while that worked then, it is now a very shaky way of educating individuals. It is strange that nobody questions why children are divided by age, for instance. As though every child develops and thinks in the same way at the same age. I think this very narrow minded. Also, subjects like math and history are placed above the arts, which I would argue are just as important. Now they are almost "discouraged" and thought of as simply "add-ons".

Seriously went off on a tangent there. Sorry. This is a subject I am quite, er, passionate about. X_X
 

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So just to throw myself out there as a case study....I'm a very very strong S. So S that probably nobody would ever ever ever confuse me for an N.

I did really really well in school. I loved school. In fact, I would be a lifetime student if I can afford it. I'm actually enrolled to get my second bachelor's degree, and I will definitely be getting a Masters as well. I had no trouble getting A's. Granted, I got a small handful of B's in some subjects I found incredibly boring, but I never had a trouble understanding material, paying attention, or learning according to whatever model was being used to teach.

I enjoy a wide variety of subjects. I have an English literature major, but I also took a lot of linguistic and grammar courses. I have a minor in Western Civilization and Social development. I loved my courses in Business Law, Accounting, Math, Sociology, Chemistry, Biology, Poetry Writing, Fiction writing, Physics, Political Science, and Statistics. I had so much trouble choosing a degree because I liked everything.

This isn't a brag. I'm just saying stereotypes are garbage.

I am a Sensor and I will learn anything.

/end rant
 

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The one place where Stan outshines Nathan academically is the laboratory. Stan is sure--handed and meticulous and seems to have an instinct for setting up and running experiments, while Nathan rarely gets anything to work right. Nathan almost had a nervous breakdown in analytical chemistry: he would repeat a quantitative analysis five times, get five completely different results, and finally average the two closest estimates and hope for the best. Stan, on the other hand, would do the analysis twice, get almost perfect agreement between the results, and head for a victory soda while Nathan was still weighing out the reagents for his second attempt.
What's interesting is I'm generally always typed as intuitive and have no problem with either theory or lab work. The only problem I've ever had with lab work was when I was on medication that made my hands shake. Other than that? Yeah, no real problems in the lab, and unfortunately I was usually the person running my lab groups in general, organic and quantitative chem labs even though I hate leading. I generally got stuck with the group of incompetent nincompoops, so it was generally me going, "Get the Hell out of my way and let me finish this. I'll give you the results, and if you can't do the lab report, THAT isn't my problem."
 

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So just to throw myself out there as a case study....I'm a very very strong S. So S that probably nobody would ever ever ever confuse me for an N.

I did really really well in school. I loved school. In fact, I would be a lifetime student if I can afford it. I'm actually enrolled to get my second bachelor's degree, and I will definitely be getting a Masters as well. I had no trouble getting A's. Granted, I got a small handful of B's in some subjects I found incredibly boring, but I never had a trouble understanding material, paying attention, or learning according to whatever model was being used to teach.

I enjoy a wide variety of subjects. I have an English literature major, but I also took a lot of linguistic and grammar courses. I have a minor in Western Civilization and Social development. I loved my courses in Business Law, Accounting, Math, Sociology, Chemistry, Biology, Poetry Writing, Fiction writing, Physics, Political Science, and Statistics. I had so much trouble choosing a degree because I liked everything.

This isn't a brag. I'm just saying stereotypes are garbage.

I am a Sensor and I will learn anything.

/end rant
Amen! The stereotypes are garbage. I'm going to be graduating soon, and I'm actually sad, because I don't have the money to start graduate school immediately.
 

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The sensor stereotypes are complete garbage, but so are the stereotypes that an intuitive can't be good at quantitative lab work or sports. My not being terrible at lab work may have something to do with the fact that I'd basically been doing some sort of laboratory-type work since about the eighth grade, though.
 

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Meh, this is just as with ADHD/ADD, have the kids go to school for 6-8 hours, then force them to study a few more hours at home and then wonder why these kids doesn't get grades to match their intelligence. The same way ADHD/ADD doesn't affect intelligence, anything that puts high requirements that a lot of people can't meet for whatever reason is a sign that the system is wrong, not the people that doesn't fit in it.

I'm an extremely good learner in school, but my attention span in school is about 2-4 hours a day, then I need time to process the information. On the other hand I still remember the important stuff that I've been taught in school.
 

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Meh, this is just as with ADHD/ADD, have the kids go to school for 6-8 hours, then force them to study a few more hours at home and then wonder why these kids doesn't get grades to match their intelligence. The same way ADHD/ADD doesn't affect intelligence, anything that puts high requirements that a lot of people can't meet for whatever reason is a sign that the system is wrong, not the people that doesn't fit in it.

I'm an extremely good learner in school, but my attention span in school is about 2-4 hours a day, then I need time to process the information. On the other hand I still remember the important stuff that I've been taught in school.
There's another thing that grows larger every year - the percent of children diagnosed with ADHD. It's extremely simple to find the statistics through google. The numbers are outrageous. How many of the children diagnosed with ADHD are simple children who like to move? You know, kinesthetic learners, or simply energetic children forced to sit silently at a desk for too long?

You know, some schools have cut out recess altogether. It's completely ridiculous. >.<
 

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There's another thing that grows larger every year - the percent of children diagnosed with ADHD. It's extremely simple to find the statistics through google. The numbers are outrageous. How many of the children diagnosed with ADHD are simple children who like to move? You know, kinesthetic learners, or simply energetic children forced to sit silently at a desk for too long?

You know, some schools have cut out recess altogether. It's completely ridiculous. >.<
I won't wiggle on the point that ADHD/ADD is something else than simply "kids that likes to move" or "kids that likes to daydream", but in essence I agree with you -- a public school needs to be for everyone, or at least as many as humanly possible. If then S are relatively more neglected in education and are in majority we have a serious problem to deal with.
 
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