Learning Styles

Today at the St Andrews Skills Academy, I’ve been researching learning styles. A fairly recent concept in the study of education and training is the notion that people respond differently to various types of stimuli.  While some of the UK’s population would have found the Victorian teaching style quite accessible, it now seems that it might have actually had a negative impact on some childrens’ learning.

There are several different models that academics have proposed for understanding and categorising different learning styles, but one of the more relevant ones adult training is the Felder-Silverman model.  You can access a free online learning style test for the Felder-Silverman model here.

Simply put, the Felder-Silverman assessment offers questions to place you on a spectrum for four learning ‘types’: Acting & Reflecting, Sensing & Intuitive, Visual & Verbal, and Sequential & Global. Between the four characteristics with which you end up, you can get an idea for the sorts of ways of learning that work best for you.

You can find more information about these learning styles from the official site here, along with ideas for how best to compensate when training does not cater for your preferred learning styles.

Once you know about your learning preferences, consider the sorts of training that might be best suited to you.  For example, if you are heavily weighted towards ‘Acting’, then you might find it useful to look into practical, hands-on training, such as an SVQ, or a Modern Apprenticeship. If you are a very visual learner, perhaps there is some web-based learning that involves a lot of video clips and diagrams to help explain it’s points.

A word of warning though; none of these learning styles theories are without their flaws and critics.  While it wouldn’t hurt to think about when you’ve learned well, and what might have brought that about, these styles are not necessarily fixed, and it will do more harm than good to permanently label yourself with your learning style.

Has thinking about your learning styles helped you understand more about yourself and the sorts of training that would be best suited to you? Do you have any learning experiences that you would like to share? Tell us all about it by commenting below.

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