How to Address Learning Styles in Workplace Training

Don't just lecture -- get workers moving and doing different things.

Don't just lecture -- get workers moving and doing different things.

When you're taking the time to conduct a workplace training, you want to make sure your staff is absorbing the information. One way to address this is to pay heed to employee learning styles. The most basic way to categorize learning styles is to separate them into three groups; auditory, tactile and visual. As their names infer, auditory learners learn best by hearing information; tactile learners by touching and feeling the information, and visual learners by seeing the information. Use a little bit of all three in your training to get the best results.

Ask your employees to do a survey or online assessment about learning styles. Use a basic survey such as Penn State University's "Learning Style Inventory," (see link in Resources) or pick another type of assessment recommended by your human resource officers. Then view the results to get an idea whether you have more visual, auditory or tactile learners in the group. It's still a good idea to plan your training around all types of learners, but knowing how your employees stack up may help you tailor your training in one direction or another.

Ask workers to share any other information they know about their own learning styles before the training. Some workers will have done other learning or psychological assessments in the past, which may help you understand each employee and how they learn. If workers do know their own learning styles and what type of delivery method works for them, ask them to share that information during a pre-training meeting.

Deliver your training information in different ways for each new piece of information. For example, you could show slides explaining a new business technique, while at the same time playing a jingle that goes over the main points. For the next piece of information, you could have workers write down the main points -- addressing the tactile learners -- and then have a few group members rehash the information to the group in a verbal presentation. Another point could be delivered via speech, and you could ask workers to draw a visual representation of the main points. For each new piece of information, strive to deliver it at least two of the three ways -- and then have workers write, draw or recite the information back in two ways as well.

Alternate between methods of interaction between employees. This is another way to address multiple learning styles; some people work better in groups, while others prefer to learn on their own. In the "Grasha-Riechmann Student Learning Style Scale," learners are either competitive, collaborative, participative, dependent, independent or avoidant. Find ways to allow workers to do parts of the work on their own. For example, send home a booklet and ask workers to pick out the main points. Then find ways to make workers collaborate or compete during training; put them in groups and ask them to pick out the most important pieces of the training. Reward the group with the most appropriate answers.

Keep learning styles in mind when doing tests at the end of the training. In some cases, workers may have to pass a skills test to prove they attended the training and absorbed the information. If you have the ability, try to use different methods of testing. Create one section that is multiple choice, for example, and another section in which workers have to describe what they learned using written or spoken communication.

Tip

  • Another option is to use computer-based training methods that have multiple learning styles built-in. Talk to your human resource officers about identifying computer training options that may deliver information through tactile, visual and auditory means.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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