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Learning Styles
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APPLYING LEARNING STYLES TO CORPORATE TRAINING

  The knowledge of learning styles is important on several levels. The first is that understanding your learning-style type is a major step to­ward increasing your ability to develop and deliver effective training to ensure that your students are getting the most from their learning experience.

  Second, by understanding that different people learn us­ing different methods, you can explain why some people successfully learn new information presented in training classes and some people don't. Third, knowledge of learning styles can be used by organiza­tions to design training that meets the needs of all of the learners.

Trainers tend to deliver and design training in the same style in which they are comfortable learning. This works well when all the students have the same learning style as the instructor. Unfortunately, that is seldom the case. For example, individuals who tend toward train­ing are Divergers because they like to view problems and situations from many different points of view. These individuals enjoy situations that call for generating a wide range of ideas, as in brainstorming ses­sions, and they like to focus on the social aspect of situations. Indi­viduals who tend toward engineering careers are typically Convergers. They would rather deal with technical tasks and problems than with social and interpersonal issues. This can cause a problem when the Diverger trainer teaches the Converger engineers in a Diverger style. The answer is for the trainer to adapt his or her style to accommodate the learner.

Knowledge of the types of learning styles present within a certain type of organization will provide trainers within an organization with a method of tailoring the training to the learning style of the audience. For example, a trainer going into the computer services department to teach a class needs to understand that people tending toward a com­puter-oriented career are Assimilators because they enjoy putting in­formation into concise, logical form and work well with abstract con­cepts and ideas.

Knowledge of learning styles can help organizations design train­ing that is effective and efficient for all the learners attending the train­ing. According to the American Society of Training and Development, organizations spend over $55 billion dollars a year on training. Unfor­tunately, results from Rutgers University Study that were reported in USA Today indicated that between $5.6 and $16.8 billion are wasted every year on training. Much of the wasted money is due to presenting information in a learning style not appropriate for the learners.

An important first step organizations can take toward maximizing their training dollars is to determine the type of learners who will be receiving the information. This will then allow the trainer to design and deliver the training appropriate to the learners. If the trainer cannot determine the learning style of the individuals, he or she should at­tempt to utilize different approaches to teaching the information to ac­commodate all types of learning styles.

CONCLUSION

Understanding learning styles is an excellent method for delivering effective, efficient training. Unfortunately, people don't wear badges identifying their individual learning styles. In fact, many people are unaware that they even have a particular style of learning. As trainers, managers, and resource professionals, we must constantly deliver our training message using a wide variety of methods to accommodate all the individual learning styles. Developing a multifaceted approach to training or teaching ensures that our trainees learn quickly and effi­ciently. This, in turn, will ensure that our organizations can compete in this ever-changing competitive environment. 


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