Tag Archives: learning styles

4MAT Learning Styles Descriptions

Your 4MAT learning style preference refers to your preference for how you like to take in and make meaning of new information. The combination of different learning approaches shapes the behaviors of learners:

Learning Style Type One 4MAT Learning Style Type One
Prefer to take in information from a “feeling” perspective and make sense of it by “watching.” In a new learning situation, Type One learners will rely on their intuition and gut when deciding on the relevance of new information. They will take time to think things through before acting.
Learning Style Type Two 4MAT Learning Style Type Two
Prefer to take in information from a “thinking” perspective and make sense of it by “watching.” In a new learning situation, Type Two learners will rely on external data and knowledge when deciding on the relevance of information. They will make sense of new information by reflecting and thinking things through before trying out new approaches.
Learning Style Type Three 4MAT Learning Style Type Three
Prefer to take in information from a “thinking” perspective and make sense of it by “doing.” In a new learning situation, Type Three learners will rely on practicality as a guide to determining relevance. They will figure things out by playing around with new information and experimenting
Learning Style Type Four 4MAT Learning Style Type Four
Prefer to take in information from a “feeling” perspective and make sense of it by “doing.” In a new learning situation, Type Four learners will rely on intuition and own sense of what will work. They will try different approaches to determine the usefulness of the information being learned.
You can assess your learning style preferences by completing the Learning Type Measure.

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)

From Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles: Handling “Negative” Dialogue


Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles
Purchase your copy

Trainers often share that one of the greatest fears of encouraging dialogue is maintaining focus on the content being explored. Trainers often ask, “What if it goes off-track? What if they start to complain about things I can’t do anything about?”

The only way we can tap into the learner’s commitment to the content is to welcome the dialogue. The dialogue will tell you what the learners are committed to. In Seven Languages for Transformation: How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, authors Kegan and Lahey share, “… people only complain about something because they are committed to the value or importance of something else.” (Kegan and Lahey, 2001, p. 30). When a learners says he is upset about one thing, what he is really telling you is that he is committed to something else. It’s your job to figure out what that is. Rather than thinking about how you address the complaint, focus on the bigger message being delivered. The opposite of what we complain about is what we want. With each complaint, the learner is giving up the key to engagement—what it is he truly wants to create.

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

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.


3 Things Every Trainer Needs to Know About Learning Styles

Three Things Every Trainer Should Know About Learning Styles Any trainer who has logged a few hours in front of a classroom or read through the diverse spectrum of responses that show up on a post-training reaction survey recognizes that learning differences are real.  A Google search on “learning styles” recently displayed over 16,500,000 results. Clearly, there are many people out there talking about how to address learning styles. What should a trainer know to address learning differences? There are three things every trainer should know about learning styles:

What is a “learning style”? Learning style refers to personal preference for how you like to take in and process information.  The most recent brain research confirms that when we learn new information, the activity in our brain follows a defined cycle. This path is universal, regardless of learning style.  Your learning style describes the part of the learning process you enjoy most and default to in new learning or problem-solving situations.

 How should I address learning styles? When you first discover that different people have unique preferences, you might think it would be advantageous to group learners by style and teach to their preference. Some learning styles models advocate this.  Brain research shows us that for learning transfer to occur, the learner must move through all four parts of the learning cycle. The 4MAT model provides a framework for addressing the needs of all learning preferences while also ensuring learning transfer.

There is a difference between using “style strategies” and brain-based teaching. In the recently released book Evidence-Based Training Methods: A Guide for Training Professionals by author Ruth Clark, learning styles are referred to as a “myth”.  The idea that we should group learners by style and teach only to their preference is indeed a myth. This book brings forth a healthy distinction in the conversation around learning styles. To engage each learner, we must address their unique needs. To fulfill the learning objective, we must lead the learner through the learning cycle. When you apply the 4MAT model, you accomplish both.

What is Learning?


We all perceive and then process our experiences, along with the information gained from the experiences. The differences in thewe approach these two activities define our learning style. 

Perceiving: how  we take in information-through experiences, reading, listening, visualizing or other sensory modes

Processing: how we determine the meaning, store and retrieve information-reflecting, watching, jumping in and doing, sitting back and observing

 These differences define our learning style.  Type One learners are feelers and watchers. Type Two learners are watchers and thinkers. Type Three learners are thinkers and doers. Type Four learners are doers and feelers. Your learning style influences your communication, coaching, leading and training style.

Learning is so much more than classroom instruction. Reading an email,  meeting, coaching, communicating are all learning processes. Our preferences impact how we engage and disengage in every situation that involves taking in and processing information.