Tag Archives: 4MAT model

What Made Einstein So Smart?


The left and right hemispheres of Albert Einstein’s brain were unusually well connected to each other and may have contributed to his brilliance, according to a new study conducted in part by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk. The research team’s findings show that Einstein had more extensive connections between certain parts of his cerebral hemispheres compared to both younger and older control groups.

The study, “The Corpus Callosum of Albert Einstein’s Brain: Another Clue to His High Intelligence,” was published in the journal Brain and contributed by lead author Weiwei Men of East China Normal University’s Department of Physics. (October, 2013)

What can we learn? It’s about balance. The use of the 4MAT model intentionally engages both the right and left sides of the brain.

Perceiving Preferences in the 4MAT Learning Styles Model: Perceiving and Processing

Two primary actions define learning: perceiving and processing. The 4MAT Learning Type Measure assesses individual learning style preferences for taking in and making meaning of new information.

  • Perceiving refers to the act of taking in information through our senses
  • Processing refers to how we make meaning of that information

By this definition, when we read an email, sit in a meeting, or talk to colleague, you are learning.

How do you prefer to take in information?
Some of us prefer to take in information experientially. “Feelers” enjoy being immersed in an experience. Feelers take in information from an “inside” place. They rely heavily on their own experience and intuition. They prefer to be personally involved in a learning experience. You will see these preferences in action in a classroom situation. Feelers like to hear and share stories. They enjoy dialogue and group activities. Are you a feeler?

Other learners prefer to take in information intellectually. “Thinkers” prefer to read, research, or learn from an expert source. Thinkers prefer to take in information from an “outside” place. They enjoy structured, well-organized presentation of information. You will see these preferences in action in a classroom learning situation. Thinkers prefer well-researched data, concepts and organized lecture. Are you a thinker?

Source: Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles (Wiley 2012)

Great Minds—cool people doing great things with 4MAT

Virginia MeyerMeet Virginia Meyer, co-founder of redCHOCOLATE®, a company providing education and professional development in the professional beauty industry.

What have you discovered lately that has positively impacted the experiences you design and deliver?
VM:  For me it’s all about connecting with people in a deeper and more meaningful way, whether that is in the design or the delivery process.  In our world, it’s all about being able to duplicate success behavior.  So, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can connect people to the big ideas in a compelling way. If we are going to get people to do something differently, we absolutely have to begin with getting them to think differently.  I am the champion of a great Q1 (editor note: 4MAT Connect Step-the first step in the 4MAT Cycle).

What are you working on? How are you using 4MAT in this work?
VM:  I am always working on evolving our training content addressing both the technical aspect of haircolor training and the coaching skills required to improve results.  We are also getting ready to add curriculum in hairstyling.  In our work, we work side by side with leaders and managers who are learning 4MAT as a model for engagement and a system for coaching.  I love their “ah-ha’s.”  The moment when they get that their ability to lead and coach success behavior is the key to their team’s dramatically improved performance.

What’s your favorite quote? Why?
VM:  “Things are only impossible until they are not.”  – Jean-Luc Picard. Why?  It’s everything!

What are you consuming (eating, reading, buying, taking in) these days?
VM:  Anything organic, whole, as clean as possible for food and lots of vitamins. I am hooked on Dr. Saul’s work and the power of vitamins.  My business partner has a huge appetite for music and has recently been playing music based on African tribal chants – which I am loving.  I have two books going right now, one I received as a “must read” from my writer friend and the other (I hate to admit this), Shades of Grey.  My rationale is that anything making that kind of impact is worth understanding.

What do you think that we all should be paying more attention to?
VM: That still, small voice.

What’s rocking your world today?
VM:  Well…I went to a small piano recital.  The  18-year-old pianist that closed the recital did Rhapsody in Blue.  It was nothing short of astounding.  He’s 18, going to medical school on a full ride scholarship, sports champion and an amazingly gifted pianist.  The music was heady.  Even more so, an 18 year old playing with everything he’s got.  Bringing everything to the game – whether 8, 18, or 80 rocks my world everyday.

4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator: What if I only had a (left) brain?

4MAT Hemispheric Mode IndicatorThe 4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator measures our preference for right-mode of left-mode thinking. With an awareness of your natural preference for one mode of thinking over another, trainers, instructional designers and learners can more readily recognize how to stretch into their under-utilized learning mode. Most of the participants in our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses share with us that the right-mode learning strategies are most likely to be missed.

We know now that the right brain plays an essential role in learning.  As recently as the early 1980’s, neuroscientists believed the right side of the brain was mostly unnecessary. Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Roger Sperry, shared in his 1981 Nobel lecture, the right hemisphere was “not only mute and agraphic but also dyslexic, word-deaf and apraxic, and lacking generally in higher cognitive function.” Sperry made it sound like our right brains might be non-essential.

What if you only had a left brain? If we look at patients who have suffered damage to the right brain, we will find a list of symptoms and inabilities that give insight into what would happen if you found yourself missing the right part of your brain. Here’s what that might look like:

  • You wouldn’t understand a joke.
  • You would have no idea what Forrest Gump meant when he shared the metaphor “life is like a box of chocolates.”
  • You would not be able to make sense of a map or any other visual tool.
  • A 2-year could draw a more realistic house, cat or dog than you.
  • You would have no concept of what Bob Dylan meant when he sang about “a rolling stone”:

              How does it feel

                           To be without a home

                           Like a complete unknown

                          Like a rolling stone?

All of the problems associated with right brain damage are related to the ability to relate one thing to another. The right brain enables us to make connections and synthesize which are essential acts in learning and innovation.

Without well-crafted right-mode learning strategies, learners have difficulty integrating learning into their lives. The 4MAT instructional model intentionally creates balance by moving the learner through a complete learning cycle while integrating both right and left-mode strategies.  We have to constantly ask ourselves, “How balanced are the learning experiences I am creating?”

What do you think gets in the way of effective use of right-mode instructional strategies?

Using 4MAT to Integrate “What Learners Know” and “What Learners Think”

What we think and what we know are two different things. Thinking is what is happening in our minds – the mind chatter we listen to. Our consciousness, on the other hand, holds all that we are aware of including that which we cannot put into words (yet).  Making the distinction between thinking and knowing is important when designing and delivering training experiences.

Learners know much more than they can quickly put into words. This is especially true when first exploring new content.

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle shares, “All true artists whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight.”  To ensure learning transfer, learners must be equipped with the ability to adapt the content – to get creative.  Tapping into the full potential of our creativity requires that we make time for reflection.

The problem with many learning experiences is that they are emphasize thinking over knowing. The 4MAT model intentionally balances this focus. Here are two (of the many) ways that the 4MAT model equips learners for success:

  1. Encouraging Learner Reflection: The 4MAT instructional design model intentionally builds in reflection points for the learner to explore and synthesize what they already know with the new information being given to them.
  2. Mental Imagery: The 4MAT model integrates right-brain instructional strategies which enable learners to express what they know (consciousness) but may not be able to fully express in words (thinking).

In the rush to shorten a training design, we have to be careful to honor and maintain the balance between thinking and consciousness.

Defining Learning Outcomes to Guide Activity Choice

4MAT Train the TrainerIn our online 4MAT instructional design course, Leading Training Needs Analysis to Define Results-Focused Learning Outcomes Online Course, we explore how to define measurable outcomes that guide the design process. We focus on four key questions that help shape the outcomes framework which you will use to filter activity and content choices. To ensure performance results, four key outcomes must be achieved: value, knowledge, skill and adaptation.

We work through three critical steps in the outcomes development process:

Step 1: Analyzing the gap in performance.
Step 2: Defining the desired outcomes for the course.
Step 3: Working with Subject-Matter-Experts to define the concept and content of the course.

Let’s take an example of a request for sales training and explore one of the four key outcomes you must define: the Value Outcome. The value outcome statement articulates what value shift must occur in the learner to ensure higher performance. How must the learner think differently in order for them to act differently?

To craft a solid Quadrant 1 outcome (and great training opening), you must get into the mindset of the high performer. How does the high performer think differently than the struggling performer? What do they value differently? An article by titled, What Makes Great Salespeople Tick” by psychoanalyst Rapaille  gives a great example of a fundamental difference between high performing and struggling sales team members. Rapaille shares that great salespeople are “happy losers” that view rejection as a challenge.  Rapaille goes on to explain that our first experiences in selling shape our views. When we sold (or didn’t sell) that first box of Girl Scout cookies, a foundational view of sales was formed.

If we imagine Rapaille as our subject matter expert on the mindset of high performing sales people, we might articulate a Value outcome statement for this course which sounds like:

1. Engage/Value Outcome: Learners will learn to value rejection or negative responses from customers as useful feedback in the sales process.

In the case of dealing with rejection, great salespeople value negative feedback. A high performing salesperson sees the negative response as a valuable clue that redirects their sales approach. To create this mindset in low performers, requires a reframe of their existing beliefs that are a direct result of their previous experiences.

In our 4MAT train the trainer courses, we explore the four roles that trainers play when delivering a 4MAT-based design. In this step,  the trainer plays the role of “Facilitator” and uses reflection and dialogue to connect the learners to what they already know about the content and establish personal relevance. Here the trainer introduces the big idea, or concept, that subject matter experts appreciate which leads to learner engagement around the topic being learned. The outcome statement will serve as a guide to define the focus of the content and concept for the course. When choosing the opening activity,  think about how you can tap into the learner’s previous experiences of learning from rejection.

For example, in the sales course mentioned earlier, you might design the following opening:

4MAT Step 1: Connect
Reflect on early experiences in “selling” something. Can you recall being faced with your first rejection? Describe the experience. How did you feel? What was the impact of that experience? What did you learn from this experience?

Note: In this step in the 4MAT model, the learner is tapping into their experiences which shape their perceptions around the content. The activity choice focuses on personal experiences around rejection which links directly to the desired learning outcome. Skillful facilitation will lead learners to connect their past experiences and current view of selling.

4MAT Step 2: Attend
Share your experiences in your table group. Answer the following questions, as a group:

  • What were the commonalities in your experiences?
  • How did this experience shape your view of “selling”?

Note: In this step in the 4MAT model, the learners compare and contrast their experiences. The learners begin to notice themes and identify how perceptions shape their behaviors. Energy is building around the topic.

4MAT Step 3: Image
Using the materials provided by the facilitator, learners are asked to visually illustrate how positive and negative feedback from a potential “buyer” impacts your sales approach.

Note: Here the learner begins to see how their perceptions (which are shaped by past experience) influence their results. Imagine a learner sharing a visual with “positive=negative” written across the paper chart sharing, “Positive and negative cues from a buyer give me equal value. Each points me in the right direction.

There are an infinite number of activities to choose from when designing. When you couple this with the unlimited amount of content you can include, effective instructional design choices can become difficult. Well-defined outcome statements make the process of filtering content and measuring impact much simpler.

4MAT Train the Trainer: How to Be Fascinating

4MAT Train the Trainer FascinatingIn our 4MAT train the trainer and instructional design courses, engaged learning professionals come from all over to explore how to design and deliver learning experiences that create measurable, lasting impact using the 4MAT model. After reading the book, Fascinate, I am wondering if what we are really trying to figure out as trainers is how to become more fascinating.

Why are we captivated by some people and not others? Why are we compelled into action by one message and not another? According to Fascinate author Sally Hogshead, the answer is “fascination.” Fascination is the most powerful way to influence decision making. Hogshead shares “7 triggers” that spark the fascination response. Allow me to share how Hogshead defines the triggers along with my own thoughts on how this might show up in the learning experiences you design and deliver:

1. Lust: If you engage lust, you attract others into the experience.

Think about how you invite training participants to move beyond thinking and engage in feeling. How do you invite in emotions? What senses are engaged? Do you tease with intriguing information, attracting the learner into the experience? Hmmm…

2. Mystique: If you trigger mystique, you’ll encourage others to learn more about your message.

How do you spark curiosity? Do you share just enough information before a training session to make learners eager to fill in the gaps? Do you incorporate mythology, stories and intriguing elements into your 4MAT instructional design?

3. Alarm: If you trigger alarm, you compel others to behave urgently.

How you do create a sense of urgency? Do you define the consequences of not acting? Is the consequence significant enough to warrant immediate action? Do you use deadlines, perceived negative consequences and even danger to move learners into positive action?

4. Prestige: If you trigger prestige, you will elevate others.

What evidence of achievement and prestige are incorporated into the training experience? Do training participants receive proof of achievement—certificates, merit badges or cool gear that signifies their inclusion in an elite group of the “all knowing.”

5. Power: If you trigger power, others will defer to you as the expert.

As a trainer, how do you establish your expertise? Do you influence the environment in such a way that learners willingly follow your lead? How might you use this influence to guide learning in and outside of the formal learning environment?

6. Vice: If you trigger vice, your message will tempt others to stray from the path of goodness and light.

As a trainer, think about how you encourage others to move beyond their comfort zones. How do you tap into unspoken desires? Do you leverage the basic needs of humans to be included, to achieve, to be fascinating? Are learners inspired to break with tradition?

7. Trust: If you trigger trust, your message will comfort others and put them at ease.

As a trainer, how do you build trust? Do you focus on a core message that is repeated consistently throughout the experience (4MAT aficionados would refer to this as the “concept”)? Do you bring your most authentic self to the experience? Do you invite in meaningful dialogue?

Fascinate is a book about marketing. Hogshead goes on to share that a company might choose to focus on a dominant trigger or create a combination of triggers to achieve the desired impact with the consumer. What are your thoughts on applying these triggers to creating desired learning impact? Your comments are welcome.

Source:  Hogshead, Sally. Fascinate:  Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. (New York:  Harper Collins, 2010)

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

coaching questionsIn our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses, we often hear trainers share how difficult it can be to focus and sustain learner attention. Let’s explore how you can use 25 Coaching questions to focus the attention of the learner during the 4MAT Practice step. First, let’s explore why questions are important in the coaching process.

The neurons in your brain communicate with each other through electrochemical signals. These signals are triggered by incoming sensory information. What you notice and pay attention to over time shapes the neuronal connections in your brain.  In the article, A Brain-Based Approach to Coaching, Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D., shares:

“The questions you ask of your brain significantly affect the quality of the connections it makes, and profoundly alters the patterns and timings of the connections the brain generates in a fraction of a second. Now, substitute the concept of ‘attention’ for the phrase “the question you ask,” and you get the statement “Where you focus your attention, you make connections.”1

If you want to create sustained behavioral change, you must generate focused attention on the behaviors that must be executed consistently to generate the desired training result. In the 4MAT model of instruction, the third part of the learning cycle is “Practice”. In this step, the learner applies the content and the trainer moves into the role of “Coach”.

The questions the trainer asks in this step should be aimed at focusing the learner’s attention on the quality of the practice application of the content being learned in the course.  To help you increase your inventory of coaching questions, here is a list of 25 Coaching Questions you can use to focus the learner’s attention during practice training activities:

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

1. What worked?
2. What could have worked better?
3. What do you notice about your application?
4. If you were your own coach, what coaching would you give yourself on this?
5. How could you turn this around?
6. What are three things you would improve?
7. What would you do again?
8. What would you not do again?
9. If you were a customer, how would you evaluate your approach? Your results?
10. What are three actions you might take to apply this with different results next time?
11. On a scale of 1-10, where is your application?
12. What would it take to move from a 5 to a 9?
13. Where are you comfortable? least comfortable?  Why?
14. What can you learn from this?
15. How else might you approach this?
16. What do you notice?
17. What could you pay more attention to?
18. What themes do you see showing up in the work of the group?
19. What differences do you notice in your application and others?
20. What one behavior (or thought) if executed consistently would make the biggest difference in your application?
21. What insights have you gained through this practice?
22. What do you think you should do first? next?
23. What would you do if it was entirely up to you?
24. If you saw someone else in this situation, what would you suggest that they do?
25. If you weren’t holding anything back, how might this look differently?

What other questions would  you add to the list?

1David Rock and Jeffrey M, Schwartz, M.D. Journal of Coaching in Organizations,  2006, 4(2), pp 32-43.

How the 4MAT Model Improves Performance

As a result of some interesting dialogue in one of our 4MAT train the trainer courses, Karen Hann, Senior Education Manager, and Denise Johnson, Performance Improvement Consultant, of Tupperware came up with a visual concept of how the 4MAT model improves performance internally and externally in an organization.

Since the 4MAT model was developed in 1979 by Dr. Bernice McCarthy, over 1 million people have discovered their learning style strengths using the 4MAT® Learning Type Measure. This is one of the most common ways that individuals are introduced to the 4MAT model-by identifying their individual learning style strengths. In the illustration below, you will see that this increased self-awareness is the launch pad for a common language that can be used  to improve teaming, communication, engagement, training, execution, leadership and coaching.

  • 4MAT creates a foundation for leadership and coaching skill development—4MAT is a simple framework for leading, managing, coaching and performance improvement.
  • 4MAT provides a model for execution—The 4MAT four-step model is a framework for getting things done. Project teams can utilize this framework to build a plan and identify potential barriers for successful execution.
  • 4MAT dramatically improves the impact of training—4MAT dramatically increases the measurable impact of instructional design and delivery by organizing the essential content around four critical learning outcomes that deliver on expected training ROI.
  • 4MAT provides a framework for engaging others—The 4-step model directly applies to planning meetings, sales presentations, coaching and marketing.
  • 4MAT builds complementary teams—Team members and leaders can use the awareness of individual strengths to assemble teams with complementary skill sets.
  • 4MAT increases self-awareness—The Learning Type Measure provides individuals with an awareness of their natural learning strengths along with concrete strategies for effectively interacting with learning styles of fellow team members. 

4MAT Train the Trainer: Games and Simulations

The 4MAT model focuses on leading all learning styles through a complete learning experience. We know that each learning style may prefer to linger in one of the four parts of the 4MAT learning cycle. The Type One learning style particularly enjoys dialogue and reflection. We focus on this in the first part  few examples of Engage strategies that are effective in generating dialogue.

Below you will find a few examples of training activities that work in Engage.  The last one, “Simulations”, is often missed as powerful tool for creating shared experience. If you are thinking about incorporating games and simulations into your training more frequently, you’ll enjoy the TED video below.


Quotes are powerful because they express an idea or concept from a personal point of view. Encouraging learners to reflect on a well-chosen quote invites deep thinking around the concepts being shared.


Share 4-5 quotes related to your course content from different authors. Invite learners to reflect on their own experience around the course content and to choose a quote that best aligns with their experience. Ask learners to share their experience and chosen quote with a partner.

Intriguing Statement

Open with a compelling statement that grabs the attention of the learner. Invite them to reflect on the statement and their reaction to the statement. Invite learners to share in small groups.


You might share a surprising statistic such as “Despite potentially fatal consequences, 7 out of 10 heart attack survivors do not maintain their commitment to lifestyle changes.”  Connect the statistic to the content and invite learners to reflect. “Change can be difficult, even when the stakes are high. Reflect on a change you have struggled to make. What factors make change difficult?”

Individual Reflection

Inviting learners to reflect on a personal experience that relates to the content being shared allows the learner an opportunity to explore what they already know about the content.


Invite learners to reflect on a recent experience related to the content. In a conflict resolution workshop, you might share something like, “Reflect on a high point in your career when you were particularly engaged in the work you were creating. What was present that contributed to this state of engagement?”

Personal Storytelling

Sharing personal stories related to the content is an excellent way to explore the knowledge the learner brings to the learning experience. Invite learners to reflect on a previous experience, related to the content.


Reflect on an experience you had on “above and beyond” customer service. Share your story with a partner.  What commonalities do you notice in your experiences?

Provocative Questions

Learning begins by seeking the answer to a question. A well-chosen question can invite reflection and draw out learner perceptions and previous experiences. Begin the session by posing a question or series of questions.


In a first-time manager workshop, you might begin with a question such as, “What inspired you to want to become a leader in our organization? What do you most hope to contribute? How has your experiences working with different types of leaders influenced your answers?”


Games or simulated experiences are a powerful way to create a shared experience amongst learners. When you begin with a simulation, you create a point of reference for the remainder of the course content delivery.


In a workshop on accountability, a game or simulation that involves groups of 4-5 learners working to accomplish a task under challenging circumstances would illustrate the need for individual and team accountability. The remainder of the workshop could be focused on debriefing the simulation insights.

Check out the Tom Chatfield on the “7 Ways Games Reward the Brain” on TED.