The best personality types for online learning isn’t an easy question to answer because this involves an individual’s character, motivation, academic goals, personal finances and circumstances. However, there are certain personality types and characteristics that tend to excel in online learning programs.
Internal vs. External Locus of Control
Psychologists have found that individuals who have an internal locus of control are people who firmly believe their own actions control the outcomes in their lives. People with an external locus of control believe that society, the environment and outside forces determine what happens in their lives. People with a strong internal locus of control tend to be more independent, ambitious and assertive.
Students with an external control locus will rely on support and feedback from professors and other students because they solicit information for internal decision making processes. However, online students do not receive face-to-face support, but instead are coached through online message boards and emails from professors. Students who crave continual feedback and feel isolated from their class and teacher may struggle with an online education.
Extrovert vs. Introvert
Simply put, extroverts are sociable and introverts are quiet and withdrawn. Most people expect extroverts to struggle with a distance education, but they actually excel in distance education classes. This is because they most likely are active chat room, threaded discussion and social media users. Most online classes are presented through message boards where teachers post discussion questions and students answer, debate and share ideas. These students will most likely use different devices, such as their smart phone and laptop, to continually log-in while they are on the go to keep up with their school work.
Students who are introverted in the on-campus classroom are more likely to be introverted in the online campus. That is, introverts are naturally inclined to limit their social interactions, so they may struggle to participate in threaded discussions on class topics. It is very difficult for some individuals who are shy to join in both digital and face-to-face conversations. However, introverts who are simply quiet around others may find that they excel in online learning because they will not be constrained by their timidity and shyness.
When it comes to an online education, there’s no one looking over the student’s shoulder and reminding them to post their discussion answers and share their ideas. Instead, online students must be highly motivated and self-directed. Students who struggle with procrastination and attending regular on-campus classes may experience severe academic failure in online courses. A high level of organization is required in order to manage multiple online classes, which can be equally and even more demanding that regular, on-campus classes.
In addition to this, commitment is also very important. Most adult learners who return to school already have busy personal lives, families to take care of and full-time careers. They are motivated and committed because they want promotions and higher salaries. It also helps that online educational programs are more flexible, convenient and affordable than traditional on-campus classes. These students will most likely have the maturity and professional skills needed to put aside distractions and refrain from enjoyable activities in order to get schoolwork done on time.
The best personality types for online learning are those who are highly organized, motivated and committed to their academic success. You can take a Myers-Briggs personality type test here.