Category Archives: Futurelearn Courses

More about personalities…

As well as the OCEAN method for assessing personality, another common method is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This relies on 4 dimensions:

  • Extrovert/Introvert (E/I)
    • Extrovert – processes evidence from the wider world. Good in open-plan office environments, more social working.
    • Introvert – likes to work things out themselves. Good in offices by themselves.
  • Sensing/iNtuiting (S/N)
    • Sensing – concerned with what they actually experience. Good with facts and figures, experience etc. Like to apply what they’ve learnt and work steadily.
    • Intuiting – concerned with intuition and what they understand is happening. Think about possibilities and challenges and how things could be improved. Like to learn new skills and do things in a different way.
  • Thinking/Feeling (T/F)
    • Thinking – concerned with analysis. Good in situations where they can use there analytical abilities.
    • Feeling – people and reactions. Good where personal relationships matter.
  • Judgements/Perception (J/P)
    • Judgemental – good planning skills.
    • Perceptive – happy-go-lucky type people

Having tried a couple of online quizzes for the MBTI (including one at the BBC), it appears my likely type is ISTJ (Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging). I then used another page to get some interpretation of what the ISTJ type is meant to be like. Most of it was pretty much spot on, although I’ve yet to read the description of some of the other types to see if I agree with those just as much (the equivalent of reading the horoscope for Taurus instead of Leo…). Bits that I think are particularly relevant for me are highlighted in bold, and bits I really disagree with are in underlined italics.

ISTJs are quiet and reserved individuals who are interested in security and peaceful living. They have a strongly-felt internal sense of duty, which lends them a serious air and the motivation to follow through on tasks. Organized and methodical in their approach, they can generally succeed at any task which they undertake.

ISTJs are very loyal, faithful, and dependable. They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are “good citizens” who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun – especially at family or work-related gatherings.

ISTJs tend to believe in laws and traditions, and expect the same from others. They’re not comfortable with breaking laws or going against the rules (not sure I agree here – I think I’m often seen as the rebel at work, even though I do get everything done!). If they are able to see a good reason for stepping outside of the established mode of doing things, the ISTJ will support that effort. However, ISTJs more often tend to believe that things should be done according to procedures and plans. If an ISTJ has not developed their Intuitive side sufficiently, they may become overly obsessed with structure, and insist on doing everything “by the book”.

The ISTJ is extremely dependable on following through with things which he or she has promised. For this reason, they sometimes get more and more work piled on them. Because the ISTJ has such a strong sense of duty, they may have a difficult time saying “no” when they are given more work than they can reasonably handle. For this reason, the ISTJ often works long hours, and may be unwittingly taken advantage of. (*sigh* – yes, this is accurate too…)

The ISTJ will work for long periods of time and put tremendous amounts of energy into doing any task which they see as important to fulfilling a goal. However, they will resist putting energy into things which don’t make sense to them, or for which they can’t see a practical application. They prefer to work alone, but work well in teams when the situation demands it. They like to be accountable for their actions, and enjoy being in positions of authority. The ISTJ has little use for theory or abstract thinking, unless the practical application is clear.

ISTJs have tremendous respect for facts. They hold a tremendous store of facts within themselves, which they have gathered through their Sensing preference. They may have difficulty understanding a theory or idea which is different from their own perspective. However, if they are shown the importance or relevance of the idea to someone who they respect or care about, the idea becomes a fact, which the ISTJ will internalize and support. Once the ISTJ supports a cause or idea, he or she will stop at no lengths to ensure that they are doing their duty of giving support where support is needed.

The ISTJ is not naturally in tune with their own feelings and the feelings of others. They may have difficulty picking up on emotional needs immediately, as they are presented. Being perfectionists themselves, they have a tendency to take other people’s efforts for granted, like they take their own efforts for granted. They need to remember to pat people on the back once in a while.

ISTJs are likely to be uncomfortable expressing affection and emotion to others (nope, definitely don’t fit this bit!). However, their strong sense of duty and the ability to see what needs to be done in any situation usually allows them to overcome their natural reservations, and they are usually quite supporting and caring individuals with the people that they love. Once the ISTJ realizes the emotional needs of those who are close to them, they put forth effort to meet those needs.

The ISTJ is extremely faithful and loyal. Traditional and family-minded, they will put forth great amounts of effort at making their homes and families running smoothly. They are responsible parents, taking their parenting roles seriously. They are usually good and generous providers to their families. They care deeply about those close to them, although they usually are not comfortable with expressing their love (nope, have to disagree here as well!). The ISTJ is likely to express their affection through actions, rather than through words.

ISTJs have an excellent ability to take any task and define it, organize it, plan it, and implement it through to completion. They are very hard workers, who do not allow obstacles to get in the way of performing their duties. They do not usually give themselves enough credit for their achievements, seeing their accomplishments simply as the natural fulfillment of their obligations. (*sigh* – yep, this is me)

ISTJs usually have a great sense of space and function, and artistic appreciation. Their homes are likely to be tastefully furnished and immaculately maintained (Ha! I don’t think so, though it would be nice!). They are acutely aware of their senses, and want to be in surroundings which fit their need for structure, order, and beauty.

Under stress, ISTJs may fall into “catastrophe mode”, where they see nothing but all of the possibilities of what could go wrong. They will berate themselves for things which they should have done differently, or duties which they failed to perform (must get this under control…). They will lose their ability to see things calmly and reasonably, and will depress themselves with their visions of doom.

In general, the ISTJ has a tremendous amount of potential. Capable, logical, reasonable, and effective individuals with a deeply driven desire to promote security and peaceful living, the ISTJ has what it takes to be highly effective at achieving their chosen goals – whatever they may be.

I like this last paragraph, so maybe I’ll just stick with this :-)

The Big 5!

OK, so I’m playing catch up on some of the other courses I’ve enrolled on. I think I might have taken on too many at the same time!

Week 2 of the Managing People MOOC was covering personality styles and as part of this I’ve taken a couple of quizzes which are meant to give me insight into the way I react to various situations and circumstances.

The “Big 5” personality traits are as follows (taken from

      1. Openness: This trait features characteristics such as imagination and insight, and those high in this trait also tend to have a broad range of interests.
      2. Conscientiousness: Common features of this dimension include high levels of thoughtfulness, with good impulse control and goal-directed behaviors. Those high in conscientiousness tend to be organized and mindful of details.
      3. Extraversion: This trait includes characteristics such as excitability, sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and high amounts of emotional expressiveness.
      4. Agreeableness: This personality dimension includes attributes such as trust, altruism, kindness, affection, and other prosocial behaviors.
      5. Neuroticism: Individuals high in this trait tend to experience emotional instability, anxiety, moodiness, irritability, and sadness.

Various personality tests will provide feedback on each of these areas. Before doing any tests, I thought it would be interesting to try to predict how I thought I would score on each area, then see how that compared to my results!

Predicted BBC Big 5 Test (percentile)
Openness  Mid  Mid  Mid-Low (30)
Conscientiousness  High  High  High (97)
Extraversion  Mid-high?  Mid  Mid-High (74)
Agreeableness  Mid-high?  High  High (90)
Neuroticism  Low  Low  Mid (60)


Full BBC Results:


While some people like experimenting with new things and ideas, others prefer traditional methods and taking a very practical approach to problems.

Your answers suggest that you like to balance a willingness to try new things with making sure you don’t scrap an existing approach that works just because it has been around for a while. Like most people you may not enjoy constant change and uncertainty or an environment where nothing develops from year to year, but your preparedness to see the merits of new and old alike can be helpful.


Some people like everything to be well planned, tidy and organised, whilst others prefer to deal with things as they come up and appear to work in absolute chaos.

Your answers suggest that you like to have things very ordered and structured. This can be very important in many situations especially when you work in teams. However, don’t assume that just because your colleagues seem less organised or tidy than you that they are inefficient – they may just have a different way of being effective.


Some people like lots of stimulation; they want people around them, activity and excitement, whilst others prefer to be able to focus on things in a calm and quiet environment. Most people prefer a blend of the two extremes and your answers suggest that you are quite comfortable in either situation. You can probably cope with things being a bit hectic or a bit quiet but, like most people, you may find extremes in either direction uncomfortable or annoying.


Most people want to be able to get on with others but to some it is the most important thing in the world, whilst others are quite happy to upset someone else if it means that things get done.

Your answers suggest that getting on with people is very important to you, that you may well be eager to help others and avoid disagreements, perhaps sometimes even when you think you should be firmer with them.

Confidence (their term for neuroticism)

Some people make decisions very easily and tend not to worry about them before or afterwards while, at the other extreme, some people are so careful and cautious that the decisions never get made! Taking a cautious approach can be a good thing (do you want to fly with a pilot that is so free from worry and concern that she never checks her controls and instruments and doesn’t bother to communicate with air-traffic control?) and you seem to have described yourself as someone who does tend to be quite cautious and careful. This can be very important in detailed work or areas were mistakes can have a major cost although you may find yourself avoiding risks and many cautious people wish they were bolder.

Big 5 Test:

Openness to Experience/Intellect: High scorers tend to be original, creative, curious, complex; Low scorers tend to be conventional, down to earth, narrow interests, uncreative. You are somewhat conventional.

Conscientiousness: High scorers tend to be reliable, well-organized, self-disciplined, careful; Low scorers tend to be disorganized, undependable, negligent. You are very well-organized, and can be relied upon.

Extraversion: High scorers tend to be sociable, friendly, fun loving, talkative; Low scorers tend to be introverted, reserved, inhibited, quiet. You are relatively social and enjoy the company of others.

Agreeableness: High scorers tend to be good natured, sympathetic, forgiving, courteous; Low scorers tend to be critical, rude, harsh, callous. You are good-natured, courteous, and supportive.

Neuroticism: High scorers tend to be nervous, high-strung, insecure, worrying; Low scorers tend to be calm, relaxed, secure, hardy. You tend to become anxious or nervous.

So how does this fit with how I see myself? I don’t think I was too far off, although there were a couple of bits which seemed fairly different. I don’t really see myself as conventional overall, although I guess in some respects I am; maybe these form more of my personality than I thought! It appears that I underestimated my level of “Agreeableness”, which (as the BBC results pointed out) can lead to me avoiding disagreements when I really should be standing up to people.  I know this is an issue for me and one thing I’m working on at the moment is ways to manage these types of situations without them turning personal. The scores for neuroticism/confidence were also a bit different (higher in the Out of Service quiz than the BBC), although I know I can get anxious in certain situations. Maybe I’m relatively good at hiding this normally!

Overall there weren’t any big surprises in the results. I do think they help to remind me of the aspects I should be working on, and little reminders never hurt anyone :-)

Personal Objectives for the “Managing People” MOOC

So I’ve signed up for all of these courses, and I need to clarify what I want to get out of them to ensure I make the most of the time and resources available. The blog post forms part of the activity for the Managing People course.

1. Think about what we’ve looked at this week and the nature of the course. What are your personal objectives?

Firstly, I’d like to keep up with the course, which I know will be challenging given all the other demands on my time!

I would like to learn more about different management techniques as I’ve never had any formal training in this area. If nothing else, I’m hoping that this course gives me an idea of where to start.

I want to carry on with my blog and being more reflective. I’m hoping that if I get into the habit of doing this now, I’ll also make time for it when I go back to work and have to start managing a team again!

2. Managers often have to teach their staff. With this in mind consider:

Can you think of possible challenges that could arise?

My first reaction was that I don’t often have to teach staff, as my role is to manage their contributions to different courses and their skill set for this should already be in place. Then I told myself off, and started to rethink. There will always be some teaching involved, even if it’s not explicit to start off with. In my case, the teaching will mainly be about the pedagogy and technology associated with distance learning courses, and many people seem reluctant to learn about this way of teaching. Fear of new technology, change from the established way of doing things, and lack of time are all challenges that are fairly considerable.

How can you use the material considered thus far to help you overcome these challenges?

I definitely need to be more reflective about how different situations pan out, then be more organised about changing things next time. It was interesting having Kolb’s learning cycle highlighted again; whilst I use this in my teaching of students, I’d never really considered it in relation to managing staff. Seems obvious once someone points it out…

Yet more courses…

I think I may have been seduced by the FutureLearn platform. Having just completed the “Forensic Science and Criminal Justice” course from the University of Leicester, I’m now working on “Managing People” from the University of Reading. This is of course in addition to the Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning that’s still going on.

Ah well, at least by keeping my brain active during maternity leave maybe it won’t be such a shock when I have to go back to work in the summer…