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4 Types of Learners and the Best Employee Training Methods for Each

By Dave Root on December 14, 2016

When searching for employee training it is equally important to consider the content of training, as it is the delivery methodology. With so many different types of learners in the classroom, you will inevitably have some employees paying rapt attention and taking diligent notes, while others may be daydreaming or working on the phone.  This is not necessarily anyone's fault, it just not be the most widely engaging delivery method. 

To make sure your training is relevant and engaging, it’s important to recognize that some training methods work better than others for the different kinds of learners. Here are the four main types of learning styles and what optimal employee training may look like for each. 

1. Auditory Learners

The old adage “in one ear and out the other” does not apply to this kind of listening. Auditory learners are excellent listeners. In order to process new information, they need to hear it or speak it aloud themselves. You can usually tell who the auditory learners in a group are because they’ll be the ones constantly listening to music or humming to themselves; they’re also naturally gifted at telling jokes and stories (though not writing them!).

Best methods for auditory learners:

  • Lectures work best for auditory learners; pass out presentation notes to participants before the lecture begins so they can focus on what they do best; listening
  • Recorded sessions, particularly if there’s a dialogue between two or more people
  • Group discussions
  • Experiential learning is interactive by nature, thus requiring dialogue and discussion throughout the training activity and is ideal for auditory learners because it allows them to work through problems out loud, bouncing ideas off of other participants.

Maximize the impact of your learning and development initiatives with the help  of this guide.

2. Visual/Spatial Learners

Visual learners learn best when they can see or visualize information. They’re attracted to bright colors, and write down keywords or draw pictures to help themselves learn and retain knowledge. If you flip open a visual learner’s notebook, you might find that he or she has color-coded all of his or her notes. Visual learners may close their eyes when they try to recall information, and they’re drawn to stories that are full of evocative imagery that they can visualize for themselves.

Best methods for visual/spatial learners:

  • Presentations with colorful and image-heavy slides
  • Lectures accompanied by printed notes full of graphics
  • Experiential learning that follows a story works particularly well for visual learners as they are attracted to all of the rich, vivid details of the training lessons.

3. Read-and-Write Learners

The third type of learner is the read-and-write learners who learn best by—you guessed it—reading and writing out information. They’re the ones taking copious notes, and you may find them fidgeting if they’re stuck listening to a lecture without pen and paper. They usually love to read, and they can digest long texts fairly quickly. They’re also good at classifying information and creating hierarchies—their lists are always well-organized.

Best methods for read-and-write learners:

  • Lectures with accompanying worksheets to be filled out as participants follow along
  • Quizzes
  • Nearly every experiential learning activity will require some level of reading and writing, but what really attracts read-and-write learners to experiential learning is the need to sift through lots of information to create some kind of order. Things can get a little “messy” (by design) in discovery-based learning, which appeals to this type of learner’s desire to create order out of chaos.

4. Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing. They like to get their hands dirty, so to speak, by mimicking, modeling, and trying things out themselves. You won’t find them taking lots of notes during lectures and presentations; they’re more likely to be tapping their foot to release some of their pent-up energy. They really prefer to try things out for themselves.

Best methods for kinesthetic learners:

  • Role-playing during group discussion
  • Experiential learning is the best employee training method for kinesthetic learners because it gives them exactly what they crave: the chance to learn by doing. Experiential learning is participatory, immersive, and group-based, which creates an atmosphere that kinesthetic learners will thrive in.  

It can be hard to find training methods that work for all employees, but by being both immersive and interactive, experiential learning is your best choice; it has something for everyone! What other employee training methods have you found to work well for different types of learners?

Download Guide: Closing the Gap: Maximizing the Impact of Learning and Development Initiatives

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Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

About Eagle's Flight

Founded in 1988, Eagle's Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs that achieve specific training objectives and lasting behavior changes.

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