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Personality types and student performance in an introductory physics course

David Harrison, Jason Harlow, Andrew Meyertholen, Carolyn Sealfon, and Brian Wilson

Abstract

For the past two years we have been collecting data on the personality type of students in our large introductory physics course for life science students (PHY131). We have also collected data on the personality type of our physics faculty, graduate students, and students in our introductory course for physics majors and specialists (PHY151). The personality profile of PHY131 students is quite different from the other three categories for which we collected data. We were surprised to find that for PHY131 students, there are 5 standard deviation correlations between the measured personality type and performance as measured by grades on the tests and final exam and also as measured by scores on the Force Concept Inventory. We will discuss the data, and the implications for how we should teach PHY131.