Forget what you thought about Learning styles – Part 2

In the first part of our blog on learning styles and the learning cycle, we looked at the theory underpinning this approach to learning, highlighted the issues with rigid learning styles and started to explore how to apply Kolb’s theory of the learning cycle.
The next step is then to look at the different learning styles and provide some practical guidelines around enhancing the learning experience for the 4 distinct types of learner.
The 4 Learning Styles:
Activists – who prefer doing, tend not to want to understand the theory of why things work as they do. They tend to get stuck in a cycle of action after action, and solve problems through trial and error, without looking or questioning why. They can have a tendency to ‘reinvent the wheel’, and can repeat mistakes without capturing the learning. To help an activist around the learning loop, models, concepts and theories need to be introduced to explain the results of their actions to move them round the cycle.
Theorists – who prefer to understand theories, models, concepts and facts, tend not to get past these and experiment with them to test them out. Theorists prefer to remain in research mode, pulling more and more information in and analysing what they find and draw in information to form new or enhanced theories. To help a theorist around the learning loop, they need support and encouragement to understand when they have enough knowledge and move them on to test what they think and whether it works in practice.
Pragmatists – who prefer to experiment to test out theories to see if they work in practice, tend not to reflect on the results and draw conclusions from the experiments. Pragmatists tend to prefer to continually experiment, gathering more and more data and observations, with a tendency not to draw any conclusions. To help a pragmatist around the learning loop, they need support, the right environment and time to think about what the results of their experiment mean to them.
Reflectors – who prefer to observe and think about their observations, can have a tendency to over-think and over-complicate solutions. Reflectors tend to get stuck in the planning phase and may never take action. They could even paralyse themselves due to over-thinking the potential repercussions of taking action. To help a reflector, they need support and to draw their thinking into an action plan and challenge to hold them accountable to implement it.
Helping individuals achieve learning, therefore, isn’t solely about presenting the material in a way which fits their preferred style and attracts them into the cycle. It is more about taking them past their preferred style, past their internal roadblocks, to the next stage of the cycle and beyond. Only when the cycle is completed, according to Kolb, can true learning take place.
Well designed training may be able to appeal to individuals who fall into all four learning styles, however, it is almost impossible to move individuals past their preferences during training. Therefore, training rarely leads to learning, and therefore has little impact on action and results.

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 to understand theory; to experiment with it; to think and plan; or to take action. This is how we help our clients to learn and as a result transform their organisations and culture.
If you like what you 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 0844 357 7350 and speak to one of our Senior Partners.

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:
effective-coaching-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 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 0844 357 7350 and speak to one of our Senior Partners.

Training is a waste of money!

Most of us have been sent on numerous training courses and programmes throughout our careers, but how much of this training has actually led to our behaviour changing when we return to the workplace?

The answer, according to research, is very little. Training has been shown to be as low as 7% effective at changing our behaviour in the workplace. It is fine at delivering knowledge but we generally don’t ever apply it.

Let’s face it – we’ve all been there!
I remember being sent out on a fantastic Time Management training course – the trainer was engaging, enthusiastic and knowledgeable and the tools and techniques were fantastic. We had a great day and I was keen to return to work and put them into practice, knowing they would make a huge difference.

When I got back to work, I faced a mountain of emails and meetings to catch up on, so didn’t get round to putting it into place immediately. The file went onto the end of my desk to remind me to do something about it, but something else always came up which demanded more attention. Eventually the file was put on a shelf –I’m not sure where it is anymore.

I’ve got a certificate, but apart from that, nothing changed. I’m still rubbish at managing my time! Sadly, the same is true of most training – it is a complete waste of money as nothing really changes as a result.

UNTIL…you add coaching.

If you provide effective coaching support alongside a training intervention then, according to the same research, the effectiveness of the training programme could be increased to as much as 83% at changing the behaviour of participants back in the organisation.

Coaching, if it is done correctly (see our blog on Effective Coaching), can help complete the Kolb learning cycle:

effective-coaching-learning-cycle

A simple way of getting more out of the training you carry out would be to coach the participants yourselves:

  • Before the participant attends the course, sit down with them and establish some real objectives of what they want to get from the training and what they want to change
  • Following the training, coach them through to deciding what action they will take to implement the learning from the course
  • A couple of weeks later, coach them again to ensure that the action is taken and review the results, outcomes and learning from it.

All this isn’t that easy, which is why we provide support to enable organisations to transform their people.

About Yeast

At Yeast specialise in delivering Leadership and Management interventions which will make a real difference. 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 do something with the information, knowledge and skills they learn. This is how we help our clients to transform their organisations and culture.

If you like what you 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.