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
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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