Learning for All
By Bill Wilder, M.Ed., Life Cycle Engineering
Design learning events for everyone. One approach to this is styles. While there are many learning styles models, one of the time-tested ways of understanding learning styles is David Kolb’s experiential learning theory. Developed in the 1980s, Dr. Kolb’s model has been used successfully for decades in business and education. It is foundational to many of the learning style models that have emerged since.
How can his ideas help professionals involved with organizational change today?
Let’s look first at the four elements that define people’s learning styles. These are:
- Watching or observing
- Doing or acting
- Feeling or intuiting
- Thinking or analyzing
We all have each of these abilities to some degree, but we tend to be stronger in one or two than the others. In combination, these elements create a set of four dominant learning styles.
While it is wise to understand these styles and be able to adapt in the workshop, the point is to design learning events, the Assimilate phase of the 3A Learning® process, that reach as many people as possible.
Here are Kolb’s four learning styles and practical ways that each learns best.
- Divergers are strong in feeling and watching. They have the ability to look at situations from many perspectives and excel at solving problems in creative ways.
As learners, divergers benefit from brainstorming and collaborating with others. They also tend to be receptive to feedback.
- Assimilators are strong in watching and thinking. They approach problems from a logical rather than feeling standpoint, and excel at understanding and organizing information.
Assimilators learn well from clear, logical explanations of situations. They respond well to information presented in lecture format, as well as analytical models.
- Convergers favor doing and thinking. They are problem solvers driven to action, and because they are more oriented toward thinking than feeling, they may prefer tasks than interacting with people.
Convergers learn well when they can experiment with practical applications and simulations.
- Accommodators favor doing and feeling. Like convergers, they are action-driven but rely more on intuition than logic. They are good at motivating others, but may act before thinking.
As learners, accommodators benefit from working with groups and experimenting with practical ideas before putting them into action.
How can you use these ideas to improve learning experiences in your company?
Bill Wilder, M.Ed is the founder and director of the Life Cycle Institute, the learning, leadership and change management practice at Life Cycle Engineering. The Institute integrates the science of learning and the science of change management to help organizations produce results through behavior change. You can reach Bill at bwilder@LCE.com.
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