Module 3 - Learning Preferences

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How many times has someone tried to convince you about the merits of a particular learning technology or method? The truth is that there never will be one 'best' learning method or one 'best' learning medium. Everyone is different and every person learns in a different way. Some people have to know the detail first. Others couldn't possibly understand the detail until they have a mental framework to pin it on. Some people like facts and figures, others like a more inspirational, emotional approach to learning.

Whether you are developing your own ability to learn or facilitating others, it is vitally important to understand what people's learning preferences are.

There are many personality theories and questionnaires that claim to classify people into different types. Many of these are based on the work of Jung, who identified four basic classifications:

Each approach has its own names for the four types, but usually the types fall into the following categories:

Given an understanding of how people are different, we can make better choices of which methods and media to use. We will be looking at different learning strategies in the next module, but the following discussion indicates how different types of people learn and how they respond to different types of learning activity.

Logical people
Lecture, reading, case studies, underlying theory, debate, programmed instruction.

People people
Case studies, discussion, role play, games, coaching, simulation.

Task-oriented people
Practice, experimenting, simulation, demonstration, coaching, self-directed learning.

Intuitive/entrepreneurial people
Video, multimedia, discovery, OHPs, experimenting, simulation.

Your own preferences

This is probably a good time to think about your own learning preferences. Think about the times when you had good and bad learning experiences and consider whether there were any common factors in terms of the methods and media.

If you are considering your own learning preferences, or if you are supporting a homogeneous group of learners, you will have a good idea of which types of methods and media you should be used. If you have a varied group of people, the chances are that there will be a fairly even spread of the four different types. In this case it would probably be advisable to have a wide range of differing methods and media so that you can reach as many different types of people as possible. (Have you ever wondered why the Bible has four gospels telling essentially the same story?)

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