quinta-feira, 5 de maio de 2011

Effective Learning - Alan Mumford

This is a short and handy little manual for those who want to grow and learn. 
Alan Mumford gives a general description of the four learning styles which was what I liked the most in the whole book.
The following are abbreviated versions of preferred ways of learning for each learning style:

Get fully involved in new experiences 
Open minded and enthusiastic 
Will 'try anything once'
Revel in crisis management, 'fire fighting'
Get bored by detail 
Prefer to stand back and observe 
Look at all angles and implications 
'Chew it over' before reaching conclusions 
Take a back seat in meetings and discussions 
Think problems through logically, step by step 
Assimilate disparate facts in coherent theories 
Rigorously question assumptions and conclusions 
Don't allow their feelings to influence decisions 
Uncomfortable with subjectivity, creative thinking
Keen to try out new ideas to see if they work 
Like solving practical problems and making decisions 
Emphasise expediency - 'the end justifies the means' 
Impatient with long-winded or open-ending discussions 

Based on these preferences, different activities are likely to produce different responses in the learners. Selection of learning method should take your preferences into account but effective learning demands the achievement of a balance between the four styles. If you have a high activitist style you will learn best from activities where: - 
You can become involved with new experiences 
There is excitement and drama 
You can have high visibility, e.g. chairing a meeting, giving a presentation 
You are thrown in at the deep end 
You are involved with others 
You can ‘have a go’ 
You will enjoy business games, role-playing exercises and competitive 
teamwork tasks 
If you have a high reflector style you will learn best from activities where: 
You are allowed to watch and think 
You can stand back and observe others 
You can think before acting 
There is research involved 
You can review what has occurred 
You will enjoy assignments 
If you have a high theorist style you will learn best from activities where: 
There is an obvious system, concept or model you can follow through 
There is time to explore the relationship between ideas and events 
You can ask questions 
You are stretched intellectually 
There is a clear purpose and reason to the learning 
If you have a high pragmatist style you will learn best from activities where: 
There is an obvious link between what you are learning and the working environment 
You are shown practical techniques for solving problems 
You have a chance to practice techniques to check they work in practice 
You are provided with an immediate opportunity to put into effect what you have learnt.

After reading the whole and full description of each learning style I stopped a moment to figure which was my learning style (by the way, I am Pragmatic and Activist) and then went on to make a mental review of each one of my students placing them in one of the above definitions. This little mental exercise was mind opening for me because it made me notice how a certain student that seems like a lost case and just "never learns" could turn out into a top notch student if I only changed my approach, modified my teaching method and adapted myself to his learning needs - and all this just by identifying his particular style of learning. As you can guess, an Activist is less likely to learn if I use the same approach I would use for a student that is a Theorist.
I already started using the above information in regards to my teaching and am seeing remarkable results!!!
A few other pointers which Alan Mumford outlines are the following:
 - Each one of us has to find a learning method that works for us, build a learning plan and then use it to develop our abilities.
 - Learning is all about motivation, needs and  personal interests - those are the driving factors in each person's learning process.
 - We should always learn with difficulties, hardships and problems - but we shouldn't limit ourselves to only that - we should make it a point to learn with success and personal conquests as well!

And last, but not least, remember: LEARNING IS A DAILY, NEVER-ENDING PROCESS!!!

Progressive training programmes not only equip managers with basic skills and competencies, but deploy innovative, wide-ranging learning strategies to ensure continuous development. Specifically designed as flexible support material, "Training Extras" provides a simple framework to structure learning. This comprehensive series covers all the crucial skill areas for the first-time manager or supervisor, providing: the key issues in an easy-to-read style; diagrams, models and charts for clarity and quick reference; helpful starting points to build confidence and encourage "hands-on" practice; practical advice and tips based on real-life management issues and examples. 

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