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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Learning Styles: Overview

Yesterday, I mentioned that I'd be writing about learning styles. This post is an overview of model then I'll be looking at each of the four styles. Please remember that I teach communication not cognitive psychology. I'm keeping it simple! If you would like to take the official Kolb Learning Style Inventory, it will cost you $25! Here's a like to the Hay Group where you can purchase it.

The whole idea of learning styles became popular thanks to David Kolb. If you'd like to jump ahead, here's a quick read from about learning styles. What Kolb and others believe is that we all learn a little differently, but that to learn best we need to progress through a four-part cycle. Most of us tend to favor one of those parts and have a little more trouble with the remaining three. So, yes, you probably have a dominant style. 

Kolb believed that we grasp information in one of two ways - we like real, concrete experiences (keep it real!) or we like theories, abstract ideas (just the facts). Most of us are a little of both of those. Some of us are little more extreme than others.
My slideshow from class!

Secondly, Kolb looked at how we transform that information. Some like to dive right in and some like to sit back and watch. 

Another slide from my class!

Yes, this is why your friend needs to think about a project and watch YouTube videos before s/he even starts, whereas you approach a project by talking to a friend then jumping right in, making it up as you go.

When these ideas are combined, we end up with the four learning styles. 

Now a moment from personal experience (yes, I speak from personal experience which fits my style!)...I went fabric shopping with a friend of mine. We walked into the store (Surplus City in Williamsport, PA); she froze then looked at me and said, "I am so overwhelmed that I don't even know what to do." Meanwhile, I began plan of attack. 

In her defense, the place is a bit much - there is stuff everywhere! But, we approached that new information (the fabric in the store) very differently. She needs to reflect a lot more and act slowly. I just dive right in. But this is why I can crank out projects while she's reading blogs and books. Neither approach is wrong; neither is right. They are just different. So why is this important? Because both of us could learn a lesson from the other. Her lesson: trust your gut and get moving. My lesson: slow down and think about what you are doing. She would get more things done and I would stop making mistakes!

Here's my personal summary of the four styles: some dream; some think; some do; and some create. Ideally, to really learn, we need to do all of these...we need to dream, think, do, and create.

Next...what about those dreamers?!

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