Friday, September 13, 2013

PeopleKeys- Student Binder - a Crew Review

Has your child ever asked to take a 'Career assessment' or 'Personality test'? Did their question make you smile, or make you cringe? Sometimes, we are pretty sure we know our children well enough to tell them what their personality style is, or careers they should pursue. Sometimes we don't. At other times, it is best to let the assessment tell them. All of these thoughts (and more) went through my head when the opportunity arose to review the StudentKeys Student Binder Package from PeopleKeys.

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While a little hesitant at first, I went ahead and requested the Student Binder ( w/ 6 workbooks) for Emily (age 15). Two things helped ease my concerns. One- I remembered that the Bible has references to the 4 types of people (personalities.) Two- I read through the "Understanding DISC" tab on the website. If Emily was going to be evaluated, or evaluate herself, it would be best to have an assessment that gave her control and also the necessary tools to understand what the results said. The company behind PeopleKeys and the StudentKeys Binder, The Institute for Motivational Learning, has been in the business for over 30 years. Thus, this is not some latest, greatest plan... but rather a continuation of quality work.

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So, We received the StudentKeys Student Binder Package ($49), which included a short intro, and six workbooks. 1- The Personality Style Workbook, 2- The Perceptual Learning Style Workbook, 3- The Cognitive Thinking Style Workbook, 4- The Values Style Workbook, 5- The Career Choice Workbook, and 6- The Goal Setting Workbook. The Intro pages give an overview, and a suggested time frame for completing each evaluation in books 1-5, book 6 (goal setting) is totally un-timed.

These workbooks age geared for ages 13+. I would be hesitant to use them with anyone younger than 13. I would suggest them for a mature 13 year old, or older. PeopleKeys has other options for younger students.

Emily set down and did about half of her workbooks the first day. She promptly finished the rest the next few days, and reported back. Here is her summary:

In doing these workbooks I found myself confirming what I already knew about my personality, but it is still really helpful to people who don’t know and want to find out. The job test does the same test as the personality test, but then uses the information to help find job options based off of that. The books really help when it comes to studying, working with others, and finding out what you value. 

 As I was looking over the questions myself, I could see how I *thought* Kurt would answer. Yeah, opposites attract. But after 19+ years of marriage, we've learned a couple things about getting along. Maybe I can apply some of what I've learned from this assessment to more accurately give Kurt the responses his personality type needs. 

I wasn't surprised by Emily's results in the Personality workbook... after all, I have known for many, many years that she is a 'Mini-me.' Yes, I took the quiz too, just to see, and we scored within 2 points of each other in EVERY category. My friends who know us well will laugh, because they see this lived out every day! 

However, I was surprised by some of Emily's results in the other assessments. Seeing her results has given me some new insight into her learning and cognitive thinking styles. I am hoping this helps us better communicate, and adapt her schoolwork and room to better follow her strengths while minimizing her weaker areas.

I would like to take some time and tell you a little about each of the six workbooks, because while you may not be interested in ALL of them, you may find some truly helpful information from having your child (or yourself) do just one or two assessments. (There are also online versions if you prefer those to print.)

1-The Personality Style Workbook has a tagline of "Understanding Yourself." There is nothing wrong with learning about your own strengths and weaknesses, with one caveat... as a Christian, I need to remember that I should be doing all things out of love. Thus, no beating up on others' weaknesses just because I have strengths. After all, meekness is bridled strength. So use your strengths to build others up, not tear them down!

The workbook begins with an overview of the 4 personality types... and a reminder that most people are a combination of styles. Then, the 15 question evaluation, a section about scoring, and graphing. Most importantly, the workbook spends more than half it's time explaining the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type. This helps you understand not only yourself, but especially those who are different than you! I am hoping this section gave Emily better insight into how to get along with others, like her sister... who has a MUCH different personality. Near the back of the workbook is a page about 'enhancing communication' with each of the four types of personalities, followed by a two-page worksheet to help you evaluate 5 others (family, friends, co-worker, teacher) in your life and how you can work to build a more effective relationship.

2- The Perceptual Learning Style workbook comes with the tagline "Understanding How You Learn." The questions in this assessment help you determine if you learn best in a Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic way. This workbook focuses on HOW to get the most out of your education by using your strengths, even if your teacher has a different teaching style. I really appreciated the section about 'designing a learning environment.' This gives students the necessary tools to set up their work area in the way that best fits them. Thinking through what works well for them, and then sticking to it can greatly improve the retention of what is being studied. The workbook has a 'toolbox' page to help remind students of various ways they can help themselves, such as use of charts, a tape recorder(mp3's), games or field trips.

3- The Cognitive Thinking Workbook "Understanding How You Think," explains the differences between Literal, Intuitive, Theoretical, and Experiential thinkers quite well. Here is where Emily and I followed much different paths. Now that I better understand HOW she views what she is learning, or participating in, I think there will be less struggles between us. Let's just say that where I might think things are black and white, or red and green... she thinks they are purple and orange. We don't THINK alike! (And sister? Yeah, she is another style altogether!)

4- The Values Style Workbook reads "Your Invisible Motivators." Now, I KNOW I have friends who need to get this for their kids to work through! If you're stuck and can't seem to understand HOW to get your kids motivated to do things, or apply themselves, this is going to be quite helpful! The assessment has 10 questions, that you rank the given responses from what is most important to you, to what is least important. Then, you spend time seeing how intense you are about each value (Loyalty, Equality, Personal Freedom, and Justice) to help you understand your OWN values. After spending several pages on learning about and understanding your values, there is a helpful section about "Understanding Others' Values." A recurring theme in these workbooks is learning how to interact with others, friends, family, teachers, employers...don't just learn about yourself and become selfish, learn to develop mutual respect for and with others. Instead of a flawed view that says everyone must "earn" our respect, this workbook helps you move your own pride out of the way so you can understand what others value, and how to respect both them and their values. Someone is not wrong because they are different from you, they are just different.

5-The Career Choice Workbook "Finding Life's Direction" uses another personality assessment, similar to the one on the first workbook. The difference is that this one takes your personality, and matches it with an occupation, well, several occupations. There are 16 different job areas listed, with suggestions for which of the four personality types usually excels at each occupation. The goal is to find a job that meets your personality, or at least doesn't conflict with it! For example, in the 'health' area, you can learn that the personality type that works best for ambulance drivers is NOT the same one that works best for EMTs. This book doesn't discourage you from your chosen field, it helps you find the right niche in that field.

6-The Goal Setting Workbook, "Planning Your Future" is the only workbook without a timed assessment. This is the 'think it though' book, and may take your student quite a while if they're not used to goal setting. It discusses the differences between short, mid-range, and long-term goals. Then it helps student prioritize their goals. This book helps them ponder how others will look back at their life. It gives them time and space to reflect on career, educational, leisure, and personal goals. I really liked the end where it gives them a page to 'make a contract with yourself.' This shows the student that ultimately these are THEIR goals, and that they can daily take the steps to meet them.

Now, I'm no math wiz today, but I can see that if you're seriously considering doing these assessments (or having your child do them) the Student binder ($49) is a much better deal than ordering all of the workbooks individually at $13 each!

Have these workbooks made a difference for us? Yes. They haven't changed US, but they have allowed us to better understand Emily, how she learns and thinks. They allowed her to do some real-life goal setting.

One other side note: right now, the printed workbooks could use a cover update. Both of our girls mentioned that they look like they're from the 1980's. I told them more likely the 90's, but I understood their point. An update in the cover graphics is probably in order. It's a minor thing, but one that should get addressed  because they don't visually match with the more modern picture on the cover of the StudentKeys Binder. (The online ones have newer graphics.)

Some of the Crew members reviewed different products from PeopleKeys. Click on the banner below to read all the reviews!


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1 comment:

  1. My oldest daughter did the assessments in her Student Binder, and now you've inspired me to go read through the booklets to see what I can learn. I had only looked at this product as something that she could learn from. Thank you for showing me that I may benefit from it as well.