Some years ago, a new Chairman was appointed at a company I worked for. He knew very little about the employees of the company. One of the first things he did was to employ a company to test each employee so that he could grasp who each personal learnt new information. I now know that this was a learning styles test, very similar to the ‘Index of Learning Styles’ (ILS) developed by Barbara Soloman and Dr Richard Felder.
The ILS separates an individual’s learning style into 4 dimensions so that they can better understand how they learn and how to get the most from learning new information.
Once you know where your preferences lie on each of these dimensions, you can begin to stretch beyond those preferences and develop a more balanced approach to learning. This can help improve our learning effectiveness and open ouselves up to many different ways of perceiving the world.11
In my case, I can see that I am generally balanced in the way that I prefer to learn new information, with the exception of the 4th result which shows that I prefer to see the bigger picture initially and then fill in the details later. This means I may struggle to learn when information is presented in a linear fashion. I agree! However, this could have a negative affect for me when planning professional development as I may concentrate too much on the end goal and not on the details of how I intend to achieve it.
The diagram on the following page explains the different learning styles.
It is important to consider how someone learns when developing a personal development plan. This may be by presenting information in a way that suits an individual’s learning style, or providing additional training to help an employee improve their learning capability in areas where they may not be confident.