A Comparison of MBTI Learning Styles Between Graduates and Withdrawals From a Dental Hygiene Program

Kwapis-Jaeger, Judy, and Margaret Coleman

Dental hygiene programs have struggled to identify applicants who will prove to be successful graduates. Various criteria have been utilized in the selection process. Withdrawals by admitted applicants cost both the student and the institution. Does the learning style of the applicant increase their ability to successfully complete the program? The purpose of this study was to assess if differences existed in learning styles between graduates of a program and those individuals who were admitted to that program but withdrew prior to completing the program. The term "withdrawal" will be defined as anyone who left the program or took a leave of absence for a period of one year. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was administered over a ten year period (1998-2008) to students (n=316) during the first semester of class. The MBTI data was analyzed using frequency distribution and chi square analysis. Personality types were identified and strength of individual preferences reported for the graduates (n=290) and for those who had withdrawn (n=26). Data indicated that those who withdrew reported very strong to strong preference scores in at least two of the four functions which may inhibit the use of less preferred preferences to adapt to other ways of learning. Of the reported MBTI personality preferences of all respondents, the least populated preferences tended to show the highest proportional withdrawals. Intervention strategies, such as peer learning style mentoring, aggressive counseling and advising especially to those different to the common profile, may need to be implemented to keep these students retained and viable.