Friday, April 15, 2005

What are Learning Styles?

Learning styles take into consideration our attitudes and behaviours to determine how we prefer to learn in the overall scheme of life. Within the training industry learning styles are what trainers should be taking into consideration when developing training programs or delivering training. Understanding learning styles of the students and what this means can often assist us in realising people will react and absorb information differently within the training environment; therefore we should ensure we incorporate the appropriate range of activities and delivery methods to assist in knowledge transference throughout our courses.

There are four types of learning styles developed by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford (1982) based on the work by Kolb (1984) that refer to how a person learns , these can change over their lifespan depending on their age , circumstances and mindset of the person. The learning styles are Pragmatist, Activist, Reflector and Theorist. Identifying your learning style this will determine the ideal way you will absorb information presented and therefore embed the learning. To identify your style you can complete a questionnaire that was developed by Honey and Mumford by going to here you can drill down further into the learning styles and purchase the questionnaire to help identify your own style preference;

I am sure you will identify with one or more of the styles, maybe this will give you a sense of understanding why people do not take on the information the same way as someone else. The learning styles are one way to start to unlock the immense complexity of the human being and begin to gain some consideration on how we conduct training or transfer information that we require people to absorb.

Within adult education learning styles are a valuable asset for the trainers and developers, we need to ensure we take into them into consideration and include a variety of experiential activities, whether role plays, individual activities, group work or case studies. We are still witnessing training organisations going down the death by PowerPoint line believing this is the best way, if not only way to transfer information to the students. The definite reality is that students may absorb some information whilst they are trying to remain awake but they certainly will not gain maximum benefits from this type of training. Granted that sometimes PowerPoint can be useful on short presentations, but the reality is over a training course variety has to be the key to ensure knowledge transference and most importantly students enjoy the training course and will remember the content, embed into their daily activities and provide positive comments onto others about the training course they have attended. As a training organisation this is our goal.

More references for information on Learning Styles and theorists

Kolb, D.A. 1984. Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.