Health Warning: This blog post may cause agitation as I will be mentioning Learning Styles

I do not think there is anyone left on the planet who does not know that we no longer use learning styles to design learning for specific individuals attending learning events. Just in case you have been away here is a link you might want to follow before reading on.

Most days there is something posted about it and there are many videos saying that people learning in their preferred learning style DO NOT learn any better than in any other style. The important thing is that the learning is delivered in an appropriate way; based on the subject matter and whether it is knowledge, skills or behaviours we are trying to change.

So the other day I had a little insight and this is where it came from. At a meeting of Trainer Talk Local in Leeds we talked about Learning Styles and how they had fallen out of favour….. I reminisced with the group how I used to use them a lot in my early career and how it impacted my practice.

When I became a soft skills trainer I bought a trainer styles questionnaire booklet and completed it. Low and behold my preferred training delivery style was also my preferred learning style! This really made me think as I potentially was missing out some valuable learning. Was there enough theory in my design and delivery? Were learners given enough time to reflect on their learning and realise what they had learnt or was I simply immersing them in “doing” with lots of practical hints and tips?

Just to let you know my preferred style was Pragmatist, closely followed by Activist and then low scores on Reflector and Theorist.

Filling out the learning style questionnaire had alerted me to how I prefer to learn, not how I learn best. In discovering my bias in delivery, I thought about how to learn best according to David Kolb and that was to go around the whole of the learning cycle:

  • Have an experience
  • Reflect on it
  • Make sense of it (though theories and models)
  • Experimenting and applying it

If you are aware of your bias (buzz word of the year btw) towards any part of the cycle, you can as a learner, make more effort to experience other parts of the cycle. If you are a trainer or facilitator it will help inform you during your design and delivery, which parts you are likely to skip over or not spend as much time on because it is not your preference.

So lovely L&D folks out there, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! Being aware of your preferences or bias can help improve your practice and therefore help others to learn better.

Some things to do may be:

  • Find out your learning style preference
  • Make an action plan for yourself to broaden the ways you learn
  • Always do a check in your design that there is a balance of activities, covering the whole learning cycle

So anyone else want to add anything?


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