Have you ever tried to learn something fairly simple, yet failed to grasp the key ideas? Or tried to teach people and found that some were overwhelmed or confused by something quite basic?
If so, you may have experienced a clash of learning styles: Your learning preferences and those of your instructor or audience may not have been aligned. When this occurs, not only is it frustrating for everyone, the communication process breaks down and learning fails.
Once you know your own natural learning preference, you can work on expanding the way you learn, so that you can learn in other ways, not just in your preferred style.
And, by understanding learning styles, you can learn to create an environment in which everyone can learn from you, not just those who use your preferred style.
Whenever you are training or communicating with others, you have information and ideas that you want them to understand and learn effectively and efficiently. Your audience is likely to demonstrate a wide range of learning preferences, and your challenge is to provide variety that helps them learn quickly and well.
Your preferred teaching and communication methods may in fact be influenced by your own learning preferences. For example, if you prefer visual rather than verbal learning, you may in turn tend to provide a visual learning experience for your audience.
Be aware of your preferences and the range of preference of your audiences. Provide a balanced learning experience by:
Sensory - Intuitive: Provide both hard facts and general concepts.
Visual - Verbal: Incorporate both visual and verbal cues.
Active - Reflective: Allow both experiential learning and time for evaluation and analysis.
Sequential - Global: Provide detail in a structured way, as well as the big picture.
Learning styles and preferences vary for each of us and in different situations.
By understanding this, and developing the skills that help you learn in a variety of ways, you make the most of your learning potential. And because you're better able to learn and gather information, you'll make better decisions and choose better courses of action.
And by understanding that other people can have quite different learning preferences, you can learn to communicate your message effectively in a way that many more people can understand. This is fundamentally important, particularly if you're a professional for whom communication is an important part of your job.
Take time to identify how you prefer to learn and then force yourself to break out of your comfort zone. Once you start learning in new ways you'll be amazed at how much more you catch and how much easier it is to assimilate information and make sense of what is going on.