In our 4MAT Train the Trainer workshops, the question is often raised of whether we should simply match the training style of the trainer to the learning style of the learners in every class. Imagine training breakout sessions formed with an invitation that sounds like, “If you are a Type Three learner, please report to Doug’s session which will focus on how you will actually apply this information with minimal dialogue and interaction. If you are a Type One learner, go to Susan’s session where we will explore personal stories related to the content and spend a good portion of our time in partner exercises. ” While this seems like an efficient solution that would allow both trainers and learners to operate from their learning style preferences, there are two reasons that this does not work:
1-Every learner, regardless of learning style, moves through a four-step cycle when learning new information. To learn something, we must move through the complete learning cycle that engages us at a personal level, shares the necessary information, allows for practice and equips us to assess and adapt the information in the real world.
2-Our research confirms that organizations, as a whole, represent a composite of learning styles. In other words, when you look at the whole of an organization, you will find a balanced mix of learning style preferences and hemispheric mode preferences (right- and left-brain) . Equally, if not more importantly, you will also find a balanced distribution of least preferred learning style preferences.
These two factors are critical to consider when designing learning experiences. To effectively reach every learning style, we must design with intention.
In any well-designed training program, there should be a finite number of learning outcomes with supporting learning content that delivers on each outcome. To reach every learning style, the outcomes must be directly linked to activity choice. The activities should be chosen to allow the learners to process the necessary learning topics in multiple ways that appeal to different learning styles.
If you were delivering a course to leaders and managers on how to effectively address performance issues, how might you vary the activities so that they appeal to all learning styles while also reinforcing the desired learning outcome? Below are some examples of training activities that appeal to all learning styles that collectively address the desired outcome of equipping managers to lead performance conversations. The number indicates the 4MAT learning style that would most prefer this type of activity.
Personal Reflections-Participants are asked to individually reflect on a recent performance issue they have dealt with then share their stories with a partner(1)
Group Exercise-Participants collectively define what works and doesn’t work in performance conversations, based on their previous experiences (1)
Advance Organizers-A visual organizer of the content to be covered is sent out, prior to the session, which illustrates how the content and topics to be covered fit together (2)
Video of Effective and Ineffective Performance conversations-Participants view demonstrations of real-world conversations (2)
Scripting Your Conversation-Participants take a real-world conversation they need to have and develop a script, using the model shared by the trainer (3)
Practice Conversations-Participants apply the model shared by the trainer to lead a converstion using real-world scenarios (3)
Self-Assessment of Practice- Participants assess the effectiveness of their role-play using criteria provided and adapt, as needed.
Follow-Up Plan-Participants develop a 30-day plan for application (4)
Notice how each activity reinforces the desired outcome. The key to reaching every learning style lies in intentionally choosing activities and placing them in the right sequence to move learners through the complete learning cycle.
If you haven’t experienced 4MAT, you may enjoy one of our free train the trainer web classes which explain the 4MAT 8 Steps of Design.