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Different Strokes for Different Folks

Posted by : - June 14, 2011

During early childhood education, teachers and parents often give a lot of thought and effort into the practice of educating children based on varying learning styles.  Each child has a way of understanding a concept that makes them most susceptible to learning and retention.  These same children eventually grow into adults (most of them anyways), and yet, the corporate world doesn’t always go to as great of lengths to ensure we are training our employees in the most successful way possible.  I am going to spend a few minutes on each of the most common learning styles and in future posts give you some ideas on how you can incorporate different tools into your corporate training program — whether it is for your staffing and recruiting software or your business processes — to accommodate each style.  Hopefully what you will find is that providing varying methods of teaching will increase retention and can be really fun to create.

The first of the most common learning styles is visual learning.  The visual learner understands concepts best when they are presented through pictures, charts, and diagrams.  I can spend all day telling a trainee that the hierarchy of objects within the staffing software consists of parent/child relationships that can extend to multiple levels, but it is like I am speaking a foreign language.  As a visual learner myself, I just wrote that sentence and barely understood it myself.  Until visual learners see the picture, the concept is vague.  For us, it is best to create diagrams that represent the relationship between the different objects.  Create a diagram that they can post next to their desk for easy reference.

The next style is auditory learning.  An auditory learner must hear a concept before they can understand it.  If you give a set of written instructions to an auditory learner, they will struggle.  However, if they listen to the same set of instructions provided verbally, they will have a better chance of retaining the concept.  Auditory learners are individuals who listen closely and participate in class discussions on a concept.  They are the trainees most likely to repeat a concept aloud during a discussion and ask questions.  Recorded training is one of the most successful tools for an auditory learner as it allows them to play back a concept over and over.

The third most common style of learning is kinesthetic learning.  This group of learners is hands on.  The kinesthetic learner must be in the staffing software working before they understand and retain the concept.  To accommodate this style, you must ensure that the trainee has ample time to apply the concept in practice.  Training must occur in an environment where the trainee has access to the software.

The most common type of training provided in the corporate world is auditory, because it is the easiest to deliver.  The trainer tells the learner what to do and sends them off to their job to do it.  Unfortunately, not all of us learn in that way, so the time spent in teaching can end up wasted.  The best way to teach your students is to incorporate tools that accommodate all three styles.  Not only do you cater to each trainee’s best chance at retention, but you offer many opportunities for repeatable, take-away learning tools.  As an added bonus for the trainer, it is a lot more fun to create a training program with variation than to repeat the same presentation over and over because the concept isn’t sticking.

Erica Ellis

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Erica has been part of the Bond team since 2006 when she started with VCG's Implementation team. As the Client Services Manager, her team consists of people responsible for customer support, account management, implementation, training, report writing, and data migration.