Learning Styles

The Training Department would like all staff to complete the following Learning Styles Assessment Instrument.   A graph of what our agency looks like in terms of learning style is at the bottom of this page.

To take this quick assessment click - here!

Why Learning Styles?

Not all individuals learn in the same manner, or it may be more accurate to say that not all individuals learn as easily in the same manner.  For example, for some people, listening to a dynamic speaker is inspiring and these people hang on every word, but there are others who may find some entertainment value in a very dynamic speaker, but still find it difficult to concentrate on the content of the speakers message.  For those who are "turned on" by the dynamics speaker, we would call these people, Auditory learners.  Those who do not respond as well to the dynamic speaker would be either Visual learners, Tactile learners or a combination of these two learning styles.  Visual and Tactile learners can learn from listening to a speaker, but it is more difficult - harder to concentrate on the spoken words, and harder to remember the logical sequences of the speakers message. 

We could compare learning styles to athletes.  What are some of the skills or abilities of athletes?  The list could  include: quickness, speed, balance, strength, and endurance.  This list does not even mention the mental and emotional qualities necessary for any given sport.  What athlete is the best at all of the abilities on this short list?  The answer is simple - none.  If we made a list of some of the greatest athletes in the world, it would probably be a good idea to include Michal Jordan on the list.  He really excelled at many things of the list - quickness, balance and endurance and he was very strong and very fast.  However, Jordan's strength doesn't compare to Larry Allen's and he was not a world class sprinter or distance runner.  (Also, he never got out of the minors in baseball.)  Still he was outstanding and is considered one of the world's greatest athletes. 

Understanding learning abilities is very similar to understanding athletic abilities.  A person does not have to excel in all learning methods to be an excellent learner.  Did you know that Einstein found it difficult to remember lists, and when he was a youngster in school, some teachers thought he was "slow".  Because of the variations in learning styles, we want each person on our staff to discover her or his personal learning style.   We want you to know what avenues for learning work best for you, and which are more challenging to you.  The benefits for each individual would be to know which leaning approaches come more naturally to you, and what techniques can you use to make the best of situations that do not play to your strengths.  For our agency we want to get an overall picture of our staff's learning styles to incorporate into our Training the Trainer series to help shape our training approaches for maximum benefit to all learners. 

What are the Learning Styles?

Our approach to this question of, "What are learning styles?", and how can we use this information, we borrowed from Brookhaven College.  This approach identifies three primary learning styles: Auditory Learners, Visual Learners, and Tactile Learners.  (Tactile Learners are also referred to as Kinesthetic Learners.)  Besides the three primary learning styles there are combinations: Auditory/Visual Learners, Auditory/Tactile Learners, Visual/Tactile Learners, and some individuals learn equally as well through all three styles.  These individuals are Auditory/Visual/Tactile Learners. 

Auditory Learners - These people are good listeners, are sensitive to sound, enjoy discussion, and are often responsive to music or pleasant background noises.

Visual Learners - These people are more attuned to sight.  They respond well to the written word, pictures, charts, graphs, PowerPoint presentations, movement, and colors.

Tactile Learners - These people are into experiencing things.  They respond well to activities in which they are involved, such as hands-on activities or role playing activities.  The key word is action.

Auditory/Visual Learners - The best learning opportunities involve seeing and hearing information that corresponds or matches.  For this type of learner what is seen and what is heard need to reinforce one another.  Either Auditory or Visual alone will work, but if what they see and what they hear conflict, learning can become difficult.

Auditory/Tactile Learners - The best learning opportunities involve hearing and being active or involved.  Discussions, sharing and role playing are very important.

Visual/Tactile Learners - The best learning opportunities involve seeing and being active or involved.  The old saying, "Modeling is the best teacher.", is certainly true for these people. 

Auditory/Visual/Tactile Learners - All avenues work well for this person as long as there are not mixed messages from the different approaches.  Discrepancies in information presentations can impede learning.

A more through description of what an individual's Learning Style means will be sent to each person who completes the assessment instrument.  This more detailed report will identify what training approaches to seek out when they are available, and how to adapt to training approaches that are not the most conducive to your Learning Style.  

Beyond the Immediate Purpose

Applications of this information go far beyond traditional Training goals.  The majority of our staff deal with parents, and the bottom line of much of our interactions with parents is Training.  Each parent has her or his unique Learning Style.  As you become more familiar with this approach to communications through your own exploration and hopefully compare notes with other staff as to their Learning Styles and what this means to them, you may gain insight into recognizing signs to tip you off to the Learning Styles of others (parents). 

Also, understanding Learning Styles gives more depth of understanding as to the dynamics of what is happening in our Head Start classrooms.  It really explains the appeal of each learning center and the opportunities each provides.

Understanding the concept of Learning Styles will not provide us with a universal solution to all training or communication problems, but this understanding will be an integral part of our solutions.