There are numerous ways that managers, teams and individuals – can use the information about learning style preferences beneficially. For example, the information can be used to: The output report also contains ‘suggestions for action’ for each style which will help you identify activities which may help you learn best, and activities which you may prefer to avoid, an overview of the statements you have most disagreed with and a personal development plan to help you improve less preferred, or under-utilised learning preferences.
● Design better blended learning programmes.
● Predict (and identify early) learning difficulties.
● Constitute effective learning groups or teams.
● Allocate roles in role-plays or other participative training exercises.
● Encourage people to produce action plans/personal development plans.
Four key learning styles
There are four learning styles that describe preferences in learning differences. These are:
○ Activist Learning Style: Activists like to take direct action. They are enthusiastic and welcome new challenges and experiences. They tend to be flexible, open-minded and enjoy getting involved and participating with others.
■ In contrast to other styles, activists will excel at learning when they are allowed to: generate lots of ideas, or are involved with other people to bounce ideas around. However, they may find it difficult to learn when: learning involves a passive role or are asked to repeat the same tasks on rote.
○ Reflector Learning Style: Reflectors tend to be methodical, thorough and careful. They enjoy reading and listening, and undertake a thorough analysis of experiences before drawing conclusions.
■ In contrast to other styles, reflectors will excel at learning when they are allowed to: think or watch over ideas, or are given time to prepare or read the information in advance. However, they may find it difficult to learn when: forced to take centre stage or given insufficient information to draw conclusions.
○ Theorists Learning Style: Theorists like to see how things fit into an overall picture. They are logical and objective learners who adopt a sequential approach to problems. They tend to be rational, analytical and perfectionists.
■ In contrast to other styles, theorists will excel at learning when they are allowed to question and challenge assumptions or are given a clear purpose with which to work. However they may find it difficult to learn when: material provided is not methodically sound, or the activity is unstructured and uncertain.
○ Pragmatist Learning Style: Pragmatists like to see how things work in practice. They tend to be practical, down to earth and realistic. They like “how-to” hints and techniques and the opportunity to try out learning.
■ In contrast to other styles, pragmatists will excel at learning when they are allowed to: immediately implement what they have learnt, or learn by demonstration. However they may find it difficult to learn when: methods and decisions are convoluted and stalling, or there are obstacles to implementation.
A sample of 300 managers shows that it’s common to have one or two strong preferences (59%) and that it’s very unusual to have four strong preferences (2%.)