I have been hosted by a radio show recently. The producer asked me which methods we used in trainings for corporations. I described Skilldrama® as our technique and I stated that our goal was to provide a living environment rather than a classical educational environment. In this lively environment, experiences are re-examined, assessed and learning is achieved by reaching a new conclusion.
This is the Information Age and now we have more convenient and easier access to theoretical information. What we need in this era is not informative slides but are experience, analysis, insight and awareness.
Just as a paper or presentation made up of abstract numbers does not influence people as much as stories do, experiences not involving real consequences of touching, seeing and feeling are ineffective and easily forgotten too.
The American psychologist and educational theorist David Kolb describes learning as the process where knowledge is formed through experiences.
Kolb’s experiential learning theory takes its scientific foundations from the work of John Dewey, Kurt Lewin and Jean Piaget. According to this scheme, people progress in four fundamental areas throughout their lives:
- Emotional (development of sensibility and feeling skills)
- Symbolical (development of cognitive and thinking skills)
- Behavioral (development of acting and behavioral skills)
- Perceptional (development of observation skills).
During learning, preferably these four skills are in charge and interact with each other.
Kolb suggests four different ways of learning for effective learning. Individuals can have different ways of learning or learn to use them together.
In two ends of perception continuum there are “learning by concrete experiences” and “abstract conceptualization”:
- Learning by concrete experiences (by sense):Instead of reaching out to theories or generalizations, it is important to understand the current experience and to solve problems.
- Abstract conceptualization (by thought): In contrast to learning by concrete experiences, it is a matter of focusing on logic, thoughts and concepts.
Processing continuum consists of “active life” and “reflective observation”:
- Reflective Observation (by observing):It is a learning state where it is important to develop different perspectives by thinking about what is being learnt and observed.
- Learning by active experiences (by doing):In this case, the individuals prefer to learn based on applications. Instead of observing and listening, it is important to participate in the event.
Let’s look at the learning styles in the squares formed on the intersection of the two aspect lines:
- Diverging Learning Style:
It is a combination of concrete experience and reflective observation learning ways. Learners in this style are questioning and creative individuals who love to look at concrete situations from different perspectives. They may have difficulty making decisions and reaching the result. Learning environments, where information can be used for decision making are recommended.
- Assimilating Learning Style:
This includes abstract conceptualization and reflective observation ways of learning. People with this style can make broad and comprehensive information a logical integrity; their thinking skills have improved. But they can slog in applied studies. They need development on considering the possibilities. They need to be encouraged to participate individually in the learning process. Their learning speed can be increased if these individuals actively participate in the learning cycle by using “active and concrete experience” learning methods in the learning process. Their ability to express their emotions develops if they take an active role in interpersonal activities.
- Converging Learning Style:
It is a combination of abstract conceptualization and active experimentation learning. Kolb describes people with this style as “practitioners of ideas”. They prefer progressing in technical matters, rather than social and interpersonal activities. It is recommended that they take part in practical events and learn to look at them from different perspectives.
- Accomodating Learning Style:
It is the combination of concrete experience and active experimentational learning. People of this style learn by taking advantage of the experiences they have already got. They have leadership skills and prefer interpersonal experiences rather than technical solutions. It is recommended to make inferences by observing the test and error processes of the information about the results of their work and other people.
When designing training and development in corporations, determining individual learning styles will provide an important value added. Perhaps a personalized education plan cannot be made, but the individual’ being aware of his / her own tendency, provides him/her to be more active in the education process and take on responsibility to learn. After all, the beginning of development is learning to learn.
Baddely, A.D. 1990. Human Memory: Theory and Practice. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon
- After graduating from Boğaziçi University – English Language and Literature Department in 1999, she worked in the field of Human Resources in multinational companies operating in the finance, manufacturing and retail sectors for 13 years. [...cont.]