MEMORIZING the lyrics of a new song, figuring out how to make new software work, driving a car and acquiring a new skill—any of these activities involves the process of learning.
The ability to learn is one of humankind’s most important qualities that differentiate us from lower forms of being. It allows us to adapt to changing surroundings and find solutions to increasingly complex problems. What and how we learn determine who or what we will become.
Differing learning styles
How do people learn?
A study was conducted by the Ateneo Center for Organization Research and Development to determine what is the Filipino adults’ learning style and whether there is a difference in learning styles in terms of age, status and gender. The survey was administered to 223 students and 277 employees and professionals.
The results of the study reveal that learning style varies according to one’s age and gender. It shows that the younger respondents are more reflective-observers, who prefer self-study, while older respondents are more of active learners and experimenters.
Working respondents opt to learn with computers and group interaction while students are more comfortable with learning by reading and listening to lectures.
In terms of gender, males prefer self-study, and females prefer coaching.
The findings of this study affirm the importance of knowing what learning styles are most applicable to certain groups. This knowledge would help in the design and development of interventions and would make trainers more efficient and effective.
This also implies the need for trainers to be well versed on the profile of their potential trainees so they can adjust the training methods to their learning styles.
The reality is, however, that it may be impossible to tailor fit all programs to meet the variety of styles of all learners. Thus, using a good mix of approaches may ensure that learners respond to the development intervention.
The results also suggest the importance of skills in process observation and analysis and flexibility for trainers.
Being able to read your audience and determining whether they are involved in the learning process and being flexible in approaches and designs are vital to success as a trainer.
The findings also strongly point to the need to go beyond training as a means for development. Clearly, while classroom training is still preferred by many, others prefer self-paced or more informal methods such as coaching.
This suggests the need to explore nontraining interventions such as readings, coaching, project assignments, etc.
Beyond this, perhaps it is time that we begin empowering the learners to take more responsibility for their own development. Assisting learners to assess their own strengths and competencies as well as mapping out their development plan may, in the end, be the true embodiment of being sensitive to learner’s needs and styles. After all, the true determinants of what learning approaches will work best are the learners themselves.