Personality types, writing strategies and college basic writers : four case studies
College basic writers are often misunderstood. Much of the literature available on these writers depicts them as a large homogeneous group. Ignored is the diversity that exists within this population. According to George Jensen and John DiTiberio, personality type as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a neglected factor in most composition research that aids in ascertaining and appreciating the diversity and strengths of basic writers.Case study methodology was used to investigate whether a relationship existed between the personality types of thirty-four basic writers at Ball State University and the writing strategies they used. Triangulation of data provided a thick description of the students. Scores from pre- and post-good writing questionnaires and process instruments (process logs and self-evaluations), student journals, student writing, participant-observers fieldnotes, and the teacher-researcher's journal enriched and supplemented the MBTI results.Findings are presented in a group portrait and four case studies. The group portrait demonstrates that 1) most of the students were not highly apprehensive about writing; 2) they were a diverse group with fifteen of the sixteen MBTI personality types represented; and 3) they displayed a wide variety of writing strategies.The four case study subjects represent four of the sixteen MBTI personality types (ISTJ, ISFP, ESTJ, ENTP) each with a different dominant function. These students demonstrated that they were diverse in their attitudes about writing, degree of writing apprehension, their personality types, and their use of writing strategies. The case study subjects often used strategies that supported their personality preferences, were able to tap into previously unused strategies that coincided with those preferred preferences, or incorporated unpreferred processes into their composing strategies. While personality type apparently played a major role in the students' writing strategies, previous experiences, past writing instruction, successes and failures, and attitudes about "English" also affected them.