TM blogs #2This is the second in a series of blogs inspired by David Hayden, at the CIPD NAP(Northern Area Partnerships) conference June 2016, in a short workshop. The title of his workshop was “Is L&D prepared for the Future of Learning?” and the basis of the discussion was around key statistics uncovered in the “Towards Maturity” report of April 2016 “Preparing for the Future of Learning”. David presented around an infographic, part of which is displayed to the right. What was interesting was the “1 in 3” statistic!

It is an often repeated myth that we have a learning preference and we only learn effectively if we are in our preferred mode. However, David Kolb, when he came up with his experiential learning model, said that to learn most effectively, we need to go through every stage! That means we need to:

  • Do something
  • Reflect on it
  • Make sense of it (with theories etc)
  • Apply it to our own situations

Learners are all different, have different interests and are at different stages of learning. People may have preferences but there is no evidence that matching materials or methods to learning style will improve retention. Could you learn how to plaster a wall by listening to an audio lesson if you are an “auditory” learner or if you are a “visual” learner, did you learn how to walk by your mum giving you a powerpoint presentation? I know these are absurd examples but, somehow it does show how absurd the notion of matching learning to a learners style is. It makes much more sense to match what you learn to the type of activity, so that:

  1. If you are learning a skill, you get to learn and practice that skill – make it appropriate. If you are learning customer service skills, you will need to apply them and so here are a few methods you could use: role play, peer observation, video recording, “stop and rewind” role play (get to correct mistakes as you go along)
  2. If you are learning knowledge, then you need to make sure you understand how to make it “stick”. A little knowledge on what makes the brain retain information and put it into long-term memory can help immensley. You can read some of my “5 tips”, in a  previous blog to help with this.

In short:

  • You should design learning with variety
  • Take the learners through the whole of Kolb’s cycle
  • Use some practical neuroscience to help make the learning stick (Recommended good book)

“The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing. If classification of students’ learning styles has practical utility, it remains to be demonstrated.” (Learning Styles Concepts and Evidence: PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST Vol 9, No. 3 2009)

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