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The most effective trainers and content creators know the goal toward which you are striving is that your users learn what you teach and can then successfully implement it. It is your responsibility to design dynamic courses that reach your goal while considering two perspectives: clearly defined measures of success and an in-depth understanding of the audience to which you are training. To do this, you must define your trainees so you can do your best to proactively create impactful materials. 

It goes without saying that all individuals innately function differently. The same holds true for people in an instructional environment. A learning style refers to an individual’s preferred way to absorb, process, comprehend and retain information. By identifying the most prevalent characteristics of the five learning styles, you can provide impactful training based on the needs of your trainees.

It’s important to keep in mind that these are generalizations. No individual will perfectly fit into the bounds of one style without some crossover. But, the insight gained into their usual behaviors will allow you to adjust your approach accordingly. 

Learn more about the 5 learning styles below.

Lifelong Student

These trainees love to learn! They take the training process seriously and strive toward their personal best. Since they are so focused on the learning part, this often translates into faster and more effective implementation of the information they’ve been taught. These aspects combined may make them good candidates to mentor and assist others who may not be as adept at finding their most effective learning strategies. 

They took the lessons of their schooling years to heart and now benefit from focused learning environments and traditional tactics, such as taking detailed notes. You may find this person at their computer with noise-cancelling headphones, a notebook next to a selection of different color pens, and maybe even highlighters and sticky notes. They really enjoy the process of learning or, at minimum, appreciate its value.

Considerations:

  • Build-in opportunities to apply the information as it is learner
  • Provide focused learning environments and resources for note taking

Pressured Perfectionist

An easy guess, these individuals put a lot of pressure on themselves and only accept “perfection.” In other words, their primary focus when training is learning every detail as presented and holding themselves to an extremely high-standard for success. If they do not implement the information successfully, they may take the initiative to improve their skills and continue to work toward perfection. Trainees with this kind of attitude and focus can be leveraged to improve the quality of output from the team overall.

Like the Lifelong Student, they can typically be found in a quiet space, blocking out background noise, and writing important information word-for-word. They may appear more stressed out than others since they have set a potentially unrealistic bar of success for themselves. 

Considerations:

  • Deliver positive praise when they are excelling and exceeding expectations 
  • Provide handouts and additional references for later review 

Motivated Multitasker

These learners enjoy being busy with multiple projects instead of focusing on one thing at-a-time. They don’t necessarily intend to treat training as if it’s less important; they are simply accustomed to juggling several things at once and, for some, may think they focus better when their brains are otherwise occupied. If their training results are positive, that indicates that they learn quickly and can truly handle multiple tasks and projects at once. On some level, they may mirror the Pressured Perfectionist in that they feel compelled to exceed expectations and to do so significantly faster than others.

They are likely listening more passively and jotting a few things down here and there, but it’s unlikely that they are truly retaining important details. 

Considerations:

  • Allow listening to quiet music during training to appease their need to be occupied
  • Encourage note taking and reiterate importance of the details

Minimalist Master

This type of trainee has learned their minimum level of effort necessary to meet expectations in a task or project. Much like the Motivated Multitasker, they may engage in other activities while training because their (conscious or subconscious) goal is to get the gist of what they need to be successful and complete the task. While they likely still want to be successful, productive, and respected, they may have learned through the years that high quality isn’t a focal point and that it’s okay to simply meet expectations rather than strive to exceed them. They also may feel that the training they are being asked to complete is unnecessary or too basic for their skill level. 

These individuals may be quite capable of educating others on the big picture of what is to be achieved and the most direct path in which to get there. If they have successfully retained key details, they are often essential in helping the team streamline an approach and increase productivity.

Considerations:

  • Set clear expectations for what is considered successful training 
  • Include quizzes and surveys to continually assess their retention

Next Stepper

Trainees who are “Next Steppers” can sometimes be perceived as rude or disengaged due to their questions and readiness for action. Their attitude, however, is often reflective of their enthusiasm to implement what they are learning and to exceed expectations in the process. If they prove to be a driver once they are set free to implement, they can typically serve as effective trainers in the future.

They often interrupt training to ask detailed questions, and although distracting, it can benefit the group. By challenging the trainer with inquiries, it forces the group to think on a deeper level and gain a better understanding of what is being presented. The quality and content of their questions is an indicator as to whether this person is really interested in applying this information as successfully as possible or if they feel it may be too basic or unnecessary. If it is the former, that’s a strong indication of this person’s desire to be successful and efficient.

Considerations:

  • Provide a notepad for them to record questions that can be discussed at an appropriate time
  • Validate them for thinking ahead while respectfully bringing their focus back to the content at hand

Now what?

Depending on the size of your audience and potential trainees, it’s possible that you might not be able to narrow them down to one or even two types of learning styles. Don’t worry! Your objective is simply to start with the key tactics that overlap several styles. This will allow you to accommodate the most people without creating overly cumbersome courses.

Once you have identified the overall adaptations, you can begin to implement them while keeping a close eye on the results. Depending on your content and approach, you may find it helpful to look at statistics like average rate of course completion, quiz results, trends in pass/fail and specific questions, and performance rating of employees before and after training. These key metrics and measurements will help you identify what is most effective and where you can make enhancements to increase the impact of your training. 

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