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3 Creative Ways to Use the Big Five Ocean Model with Students

The Big Five Personality Model, also known as the "OCEAN Model," or the "five factor personality model," is a personality test which originated in the 1980's and is still used today to help individuals assess personality traits better.


OCEAN stands for...

O = Openness

  • How curious are you? How likely are you to take risks? How inventive or entrepreneurial are you? How thorough and careful are you when you complete tasks?

  • How hesitant are you? How risk averse are you? How cautious and routine oriented are you?

C = Conscientiousness

  • How reliable and efficient are you? Is organization a priority for you? How principled and guided are you?

  • Do you consider yourself careless or haphazard? Do you spend extravagantly or dislike boundaries? Would you consider yourself lavish in any way?

E = Extraversion

  • How outgoing or extraverted are you? How comfortable are you with groups or crowds? Do you consider yourself sociable and communicative?

  • How do you prefer to spend time? Are you uncomfortable or excited about spending time alone? Do you consider yourself reserved?

A = Agreeableness

  • Do you consider yourself good natured and friendly? Are you affable and social? Do you consider yourself compassionate and empathetic

  • Do you consider yourself somewhat critical or intense? Have other considered comments you have made judgmental or lacking compassion?

N = Neuroticism

  • Are you overly- sensitive or easily offended? Would you say anxiety and nervousness characterize you?

  • Are you flexible and easy going? Are you confident and self-assured?



3 Creative Ways to Use the OCEAN Model with Students

Students love talking about themselves, and they love learning about themselves, too. The OCEAN is a great model to help students learn more about themselves, develop empathy for others, and analyze character traits in literature.


  1. Foster Self-Awareness: Use the OCEAN Model to help students learn about themselves. Building self-awareness is a big part of a student's personal journey. Personality tools like the "Big 5/OCEAN Model" can help students identify personality traits that are both strengths and struggles. Tip: It's important to present this model positively and non-judgmentally in order that students understand themselves better with the goal of learning, improving, and growing.

  2. Develop Empathy: Use the OCEAN Model to help students learn about others. Using the "OCEAN" model can help students build an awareness of the real differences in personality with family members, friends, and other students or coworkers. Understanding differences, when understood correctly, can help build empathy towards others - so that students encourage strengths others, or offer to help those who may be struggling in some way. Tip: It's important to present this model positively and non-judgmentally in order that students see strengths and weaknesses through a grid of cultivating empathy.

  3. Cultivate Critical Thinking & Analysis Skills: Use the OCEAN Model to help students apply what they've learned to classic works of literature. Interestingly, studies have shown that there are links between empathy-building and fiction. Analyzing great works of fiction and applying this model to different characters gives students clear guidelines for analysis, and it helps them critically think about the strengths and weaknesses of each character. Tip: Ask students to create a grid with the 5 Traits at the top and character names along the left column. Ask students to evaluate each character and support their opinions with quotes and page numbers from the literary work they are reading.


Students love mixing up traditional learning models with fun and interesting activities. We incorporate fun ideas like this into workshops, classes, and coaching sessions - so if you want to inspire your student to learn, improve, and grow - contact us today.




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