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    Jan 29, 2016    |   Aidan Millar

Function Pairs and Learning Styles

assessment This week, many high school and University students have been writing mid-term exams. As an individual who always dreaded any kind of formal test or exam, this time of year always brings back a mixture of nostalgia and terror. At the same time, it also makes me think of type preferences and how closely the function pairs are related to not only what we like to learn, but how we most naturally gather, evaluate and use the information to solve problems. While we may have comfortable and preferred ways of learning, we must also – especially when needing to perform in a formalized system for example – challenge ourselves and flex beyond what is most automatic for us. This week’s blog is dedicated to helping us appreciate what our natural approach may be, while recognizing opportunities to develop and perform in other ways.


Sensing-Thinking (ST)
Individuals who prefer ST tend to be sensible and practical. They tend to seek logical reasons for learning specific information. They often prefer to learn by:

  • Receiving information from sources that have demonstrated competence and experience
  • Reviewing relevant facts in a logical, step-by-step manner
  • Memorizing specific facts and then applying them to real-life or practical situations
  • Experiencing real-life examples through labs, simulations or demos thinking-outside-the-box-33399_1280 (2)
  • Questioning and critiquing to understand and clarify meaning

Tips for Development:

  • Resist the temptation to judge teachers or dismiss new ideas quickly
  • Learn about theoretical models by linking these to their own experiences
  • Try establishing patterns and categories for concepts rather than engaging in straight memorization


Sensing-Feeling (SF)
Individuals who prefer SF tend to be learners who seek practical information as it relates to people rather than hard fact. They therefore prefer:

  • To learn from a supportive teacher or coach
  • Learning about facts in a personally relevant, step-by-step way
  • To memorize facts and use them to help others
  • Learning by experiencing real-life stories and personal examples of the ideas being discussed
  • To receive positive feedback and encouragement to confirm what they know

Tips for Development:

  • Learn to appreciate the usefulness of logical analysis and a critical eye
  • learn about theoretical models and abstract concepts by relating them to personal experience
  • Accept frank, corrective feedback and assume this is given to help you learn


Intuition-Feeling (NF)
Individuals who prefer NF tend to be collaborative, cooperative learners who integrate and understand concepts especially as they relate to personal values. They like to learn by:

  • Sharing ideas in a supportive environment
  • Learning comprehensive ideas and theories by aligning and contrasting them with personal opinions
  • Linking ideas to possibilities that involve themselves and others
  • Seeking authentic encouragement and positive feedback
  • Understanding everyone’s perspectives and seeking consensus for moving forward

Tips for Development: hands-220163_1280 (2)

  • In addition to concepts, try to focus on specific facts, details and practical steps involved
  • “Agree to disagree” at times rather than attempt to resolve an issue
  • Attend to current realities to ground theories and understand a situation more thoroughly


Intuition-Thinking (NT)
Individuals who prefer NT tend to be independent learners who integrate concepts in an objective and logical way. They prefer:

  • Receiving complex information from expert, objective sources
  • Linking ideas and concepts to broad long-term strategies
  • Debating, questioning, and critiquing what is said in order to develop ideas
  • Seeking well-thought-out, discerning and corrective feedback

Tips for Development:

  • Logically order and evaluate facts, details and practical steps
  • Find realistic applications for learning concepts and ideas
  • Use diplomacy when evaluating the ideas of others – people can misunderstand or personalize your comments


If you work with students, or are interested in more information on preferences and learning styles, check out Introduction to Type and Learning!