Forget what you thought you knew about learning styles – Part 1

In our last blog, we explored why training is a waste of money. This is essentially because training does not lead to learning.
We have therefore decided to spend the next few weeks exploring what learning is in a series of blogs on the topic. We will cover a number of areas, including Organisational learning, Androgogy – the theory of learning in adults. However, we kick the series off by looking at Kolb’s learning theory and the myths surrounding learning styles.
Based on Kolb’s learning cycle theory, Kolb D. (1984), Honey & Mumford developed learning styles have been a popular concept presented to us in numerous training courses.
The simplified version of the theory we are presented is that we each have a preferred learning style, based on four styles:
Activists – who prefer to learn by ‘having an experience’ or doing. Activists tend to prefer to ‘get their hands dirty’ and involve themselves fully in new experiences or opportunities to learn without bias or prejudgement.
Theorists – who prefer to understand the theory behind the actions in the form of models, concepts and facts. Theorists prefer to analyse and draw in information to form new or enhanced theories.
Pragmatists – who prefer to put learning into practice and draw action from them. Pragmatists like to experiment to test out ideas, theories and techniques to see if they work in practice
Reflectors – who prefer to observe and think about their observations. Observers prefer to stand back and view experiences from a number of perspectives, collecting data and taking time to reach a conclusion.
This theory provides us with some fantastic, useful insight into how people prefer to approach learning, and we are told by a whole range of training providers that they accommodate and adapt their training so that it is accessible and attractive to learners from each of the four learning styles.

Unfortunately, this approach completely misses the point of learning styles. Kolb’s theory tells us that in order to learn, we have to go through the learning cycle:
The important factor about learning styles is that not only do individuals with a particular style prefer to enter the cycle at different points, but that they also have a tendency to get stuck in this preference and not move onto the next stage of the cycle.
In the next part of our blog, we’ll explain how to overcome this resistance to effective learning to ensure that individuals with any particular preferred style can access the learning cycle and thus make progress.
About Yeast
At Yeast, we specialise in delivering Leadership and Management interventions which take participants through the learning cycle. We only provide coaching based development programmes which are tailored to the needs of the organisation.
We compress the time we spend delivering information during our programmes as much as possible, instead concentrating on the element which adds the most value – coaching participants to move past their preferred learning style. This is how we help our clients to learn and as a result transform their organisations and culture.
If you like what you see here, click on this link and, fill in your details. A member of the delivery team (we don’t employ salespeople) will get in touch as soon as possible and start helping you to transform your organisation. Alternatively, call us on 0330 133 133 8 and speak to one of our Senior Partners.