Discussion Issues

As well as sharing practical personality type applications and projects in the composition classroom, list members discuss theoretical issues relating to personality and writing. For example, Eric Long recently posted a query on how personality type affected students' and teachers' "preferences of learning writing and general philosophies of writing. . . . I am interested in seeing if there are any specific definitions of 'good writing' and philosophies of the writing process that are linked to specific personality types." Long's concern with the various definitions and criteria for what constitutes "good writing" led to a discussion on whether personality type affects the way our students evaluate their writing and how they therefore proceed through their writing processes; and equally importantly, Typwrt-L members agreed that personality type affects the way we teachers view the sometimes vague beacon--"good writing"--and how we help guide our students through the writing process.

As would be expected of a computer-mediated discussion in the composition field, Typwrt-L dialogue has often focused on computers and writing issues. Specifically, one member suggested that people with some personality types read and respond to e-mail discussions and synchronous computer conversations differently than people of other personality types. In response to this proposal, Typwrt-L members participated in an extensive conversation on how their students have adapted to computer-mediated communication and how they attribute personality types to those results. The list consensus was that students' personality types can indeed affect the manner in which they conduct online conversations, and as instructors, we must be sensitive to their personality-related needs when we issue computer-inclusive assignments. Furthermore, members considered their own personality types in relation to their online performance and discussed whether their cyber-personae were predictable from their types.

Some Typwrt-L members have been skeptical of giving extensive attention to personality type in the composition classroom. One member, for example, said, "I have a problem with the use of type as a guide to how individual students will be treated. I love the idea of getting teachers and students alike to think about differences in learning styles. . . . But glib talk as if there were only sixteen precise kinds of people, knowable in advance by test score, has dangers." This concern initiated a conversation in which list members shared concerns of using personality typing in the classroom, reviewed personality type literature, and helped each other determine ways in which typing can be used and should not be used in composition courses.

Typwrt-L discussion has consistently featured consideration and re-consideration of how personality plays into writing and teaching. One of the first conversation strands began by asking how writers thought, talked, and wrote about their writing differently according to personality types. From there, participants began to deliberate on how people of different personality types interpret individual personality types, and Jungian type theory in general. This sort of "meta-Jungian" conversation is common to list discussion.

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