2.3. Individual Learning Preferences

Learning Preferences: How do learners best acquire knowledge or change their behaviors? What are the ways training environments, psychological comfort level, social style and learning modalities impact learning solutions? (AOE 2. Instructional Design; 2.3. Individual Learning Preferences) Connect with the podcast host on Twitter: @laurapasquini Or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurapasquini/ Are you studying for the CPLP? Want more learning & performance ideas? Subscribe to the pod for the next study session: https://learnperform.transistor.fm/subscribe

2.3. Individual Learning Preferences

Learning Objectives for Section 2.3.:
  • Explain why learning styles is a myth
  • Define learning modalities
Learning Modalities
Learning modalities refers to how information is received from the environment into our brains through our five senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching.

The Learning Style Concept is a Neuromyth
: learnings styles that try to measure differences in individuals' learning have been debunked and are a myth. You might know a few of these assessments or instruments to classify learning styles: Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory or VAK (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). Researchers have indicated that there is no evidence for the validity of learning styles or that it leads to optimal learning if identified. Additionally, investing in these learning style assessments/inventories could lead learners to develop self-limiting beliefs about themselves that could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Models that Incorporate Learning Preference: some evidence-based theories and models that focus on individual learning preferences include (which a few were mentioned on the previous episode in the AOE #2 Instructional Design; Section 2.2. Learning Theories):
  • Multiple intelligences (Howard Gardner)
  • Brain-based approaches to learning (Ned Herrmann)
  • Factors affecting the speed at which adults learn
  • Accelerated learning techniques
  • Modules (Patricia Cross)
    • Characteristics of Adult Learners (CAL) : framework developed to describe why adults participate in learning; motivations and deterrents to adult learning
    • Chain-of-Response (COR) : is a model that asserts that adult participation in learning is not an isolated act but results from a complex series of personal responses to internal and external variables that either encourage or discourage participation in learning
The Design Value of Learning Modalities
Although we don’t use learning style preferences, there is something for offering training and learning solutions for a variety of learning modalities and techniques to resonate with all learners. Here are a few helpful reminders of why multiple modes for learning are critical from Design for How People Learn (Dirkesen, 2012):
  • Everyone does not learn the same way. 
  • Designers should vary the way learning is approached depending on the subject, topic, or focus of the training. 
  • Except for any accessibility needs or physical impairments, most learners use senses predominantly visual, auditory, and tactile ways to learn.
Senses & Design Considerations
  • providing written directions when possible
  • enhancing presentations with visuals, graphics, illustrations, diagrams, props, or flowcharts
  • helping participants visualize a process using demonstrations, or role plays
  • providing spoken directions
  • using discussions, debates, panels, or interviews
  • planning for buzz groups, small group discussion, or various discussion group configurations
  • providing hands on practice with the actual equipment, forms, or tools
  • engaging learners in experiential learning activities or solving problems
  • allowing time for active review and practice methods
We need to design learning beyond our own expectations or personal preferences for learning design solutions -- it needs to be relevant for on-the-job outcomes and performance.

REVIEW: Designing Multimodal Approaches for Learning 

How are you designing with multiple modes and learners in mind?
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