Personality Types and the Configuration of Online Learning Groups

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Mary Ann Dailey, PhD
Department of Nursing, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA, USA
Deborah Mandel, PhD
Department of Nursing, West Chester University, Exton, PA, USA

In nursing courses, students are frequently required to work within a group of 3 to 5 members to complete assignments. This approach has been effectively used in the classroom environment, where faculty and students are more aware of student personalities and their mutual abilities to work within a group. However, in online courses, most students and faculty never meet in a face-to-face situation and students may not know their peers. For this reason, selection of students for a specific work group frequently occurs through random assignment, random selection, surname assignment, or some other method determined by the faculty. Since nurses must juggle shift work, family life, personal needs and educational needs, they tend to prefer independent learning rather than group work. RN-BSN students frequently cite dissatisfaction with online work groups, which could be related to the random selection methods used to formulate them. Therefore, the research question for this study is: Can the development of online work groups (teams) using the variables of age and personality create better working relationships with improved outcomes?

The population (N = 102) selected for this research study was comprised of RN-BSN students enrolled in two online nursing courses in two different universities within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. After obtaining IRB approval from both universities, participants were sought from those RN-BSN students enrolled within the fall 2016 and the spring 2017 semesters. At the beginning of each semester, students enrolled in one designated nursing course from each university were invited to participate in the research study using a “Generalized Announcement About the Research Project”. Contained within this announcement was an explanation about the project and its purpose. Submission of the informed consent demonstrated each student’s preference to participate or not participate in the research project. Following submission of the consent, all students were asked to complete a non-graded, 60-question Open Extended Jungian Type Scales 1.2 (OEJTS 1.2)™ survey (usage permission was obtained by the researchers), and a non-graded demographic data form. Personality profile results from the OEJTS 1.2™ and student age were used to create multi-generational work groups of 3 - 4 members. Those students who did not wish to participate in the research project were randomly assigned to a non-study group, where they completed the same course assignments as their peers. Following formulation, each group completed a Team Charter, a signed agreement between members, which included: a) the team's goals, b) a skill inventory of member strengths, c) a list of team member roles, d) a description of potential team obstacles, and c) the methods by which potential conflict would be resolved. When all group assignments were completed, each student anonymously completed a 31-statement Team Development Measurement Evaluation Tool™(TDM), which was developed by Mahoney & Turkovich and is used as an evaluation tool within the VA Health System (usage permission was obtained by the researchers). Specifically, the TDM measures team characteristics of cohesion, communication, clarity of team roles and clarity of team goal achievement. Statistical analysis of data is currently ongoing.