Every individual is unique, and everyone brings with them a unique set of traits to the workplace—from their personality and past experiences to the way they learn. In fact, there are several types of learning styles and ways that workplace training can be designed to meet those diverse learning needs, as well as decrease learning decay. While some individuals learn best with written material, others are make sense of new information when they can see or hear an explanation of what is being taught.
In order to ensure that employees get the most out of their training experiences, it’s best to tailor workplace training to address the needs of all types of learning styles as much as possible. By making small adjustments to existing training or larger changes to your training programs, you can position your organization to achieve strong training ROI, improved employee engagement, and sustained behavior change.
How to Tailor Training to the Various Types of Learning Styles
Though there are many learning theories, we’ll focus on one of the most popular, Howard Gardner’s Seven Learning Styles. There are a number of elements that can be included in workplace training so that it appeals and connects to each learning style, helping individuals learn new behaviors that will help improve performance and job effectiveness.
Here are some ways your training initiatives can be designed to appeal to the various learning styles:
Visual learners learn by what they see and build comprehension of new concepts through pictures, images, and the spatial relationships of objects. Workplace training for visual learners can be tailored to include presentations with plentiful diagrams, videos, and charts.
Auditory learners are excellent listeners and discern patterns in spoken, lecture-type teaching. This type of learner prefers speeches, audio recordings, and training that includes plenty of opportunities for dialogue.
These individuals learn best through close examination of text, reports, stories, and case studies. Workplace training for reading/writing learners can be tailored to include manuals, handouts, quizzes, and presentations.
Kinesthetic learners expand their comprehension of new information through their senses, and enjoy hands-on activities like simulations, walk-throughs, and sessions that include building or working with physical objects.
Sometimes referred to as mathematical learners, these individuals learn from studying whole systems, patterns, and high-level concepts. They are particularly drawn to spreadsheets, multi-step methodologies, and graphs. Logical learners respond well to workplace training that includes opportunities to distill multiple concepts into one big idea, showing them how to improve their behavior.
These learners are strong at understanding the feelings and motivations of others. The thrive on team learning activities, role-playing, and group discussions.
Solitary learners focus on self-reflection and introspection as their prime way of synthesizing and making sense of learning. Training for these learners should be tailored to include opportunities to work through the content at their own pace, as well as a balance of collaborative activities with those that allow them to work independently.
Experiential Learning Works for a Range of Learning Styles
Experiential learning can be an appealing workplace training choice because it addresses the different learning needs of employees. Here are some examples of how experiential learning works with many types of learning styles:
- For visual learners - The immersive nature of experiential learning features stories with vivid details that allow these types of learners to visualize desired behaviors introduced to them in training.
- For auditory learners - The discussion and dialogue inherent in experiential learning allow auditory learners to learn by hearing how others synthesize and apply newly learned behaviors.
- For reading/writing learners - Reading/writing learners thrive on making connections through what they read, and experiential learning addresses this by offering discovery-based learning that compels learners to create order out of the information presented, then take action based on their understanding of the material.
- For kinesthetic learners - Kinesthetic learners love to learn by doing, which is at the heart of experiential learning. Participants engage in immersive activities that mimic real-life situations and are directly relevant to the workplace.
- For logical learners - Experiential learning works for logical learners because it challenges them to think about their actions and behaviors, and link it to what they did with the aid of a facilitated debrief.
- For interactive/social learners - Experiential training appeals to social learners because it is by nature an interactive experience. Expert facilitators engage groups of participants and help them to learn from their shared experiences during the session.
- For solitary learners - After the collaborative portion of experiential training wraps up, a facilitator-led discussion gives solitary learners the chance to think about their behaviors and actions, how those affected their results, and how the experience relates to their everyday life on the job.
Selecting a Solution That Appeals to All Types of Learning Styles
Though it may be challenging, it is possible to implement workplace training that addresses the needs of the many types of learning styles. Everyone learns differently, so it’s worthwhile to consider the various learning needs that exist within your organization and adjust your training accordingly. Experiential learning in particular includes elements that naturally appeal to many different learning styles and offers benefits that can be appreciated by every employee.