How do you learn? There are four learning styles that influence the way we acquire information, skills and knowledge. It is truly our preferred method of interacting with the world. Learning styles are NOT:
- Personality profiles
- Character flaws
That being said, we tend to express, and teach how we learn. So it is important to understand your learning styles and how it impacts your presentation style. You want to make sure there are no restrictions upon how you deliver your message and how it impacts your students.
I first learned about the Learning Styles from Tom Martin of the ITI – Instructor Training Institute. Lets review the four Learning Styles.
Style 1: Feely-Watchers
This group always asks the question “WHY?” They learn through new experiences and by listening, feeling and thinking. They like sharing ideas and always avoid conflict and work for the harmony of the group. They like group exercises. These are the students who will walk up during a break to ask you a question, but will not ask in front of all the other people in class.
Style 2: Thinky-Watchers
This group always asks the question “WHAT?” They learn by reading new concepts and ideas, and take copious notes on the handouts. They like their facts detailed and orderly. If you skip over a page in the handout they are not happy. Interestingly enough, they will most likely not look at those notes again. That is just the way they learn. At the beginning of class I always mention something like this: “To my page counters, if I skip over a paragraph or a page do not worry! You will learn all you need to today.”
They do seek personal effectiveness, and of course like systems. They are uncomfortable with subjective judgments, and will question you. They are hard on themselves, and don’t like to be corrected.
Style 3: Thinky-Doers
This group always asks the question “HOW?” They learn best by testing and applying. These are the students that want you to get to the point so they can practice. They have limited tolerance for learning “concepts.” Always let them know that the concepts will lead to practice so they should be patient and hold on! They enjoy independent study, are problem solvers, and are impatient and lack teamwork skills. Let them do projects with just one other person or by themselves. Let them report back to the group as a whole.
Style 4: Feely-Doers
This group always asks the question “WHAT IF?” They learn best by experimenting and experiences. These students will ask questions that you will need to put in the “parking lot” so you can answer later. They will ask subjective questions sometimes not based on a true experience. You need to hone your platform skills to keep these people focused and not take your class off track. Be careful NOT to embarrass these people as you will alienate the rest of the class. They like to challenge status quo and enjoy crisis, informality and excitement. If you are looking for people for a panel or for a role play these are your students. They are definitely open to new ideas.
There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fills you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.”
When does learning occur? Most learning starts between Style 2 and 3. Enough information is given that people can start applying personal application. The magic is when you organize your lesson by learning styles. Watch for my next post on this. In every learning objective, or part of your lesson, cover each learning style in a learning wheel. You will touch every style and gain students who really learn from you.
If you want to see what your learning styles are contact me and I will send you the form. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org