Have you met a top executive before? Or seen a truly skilful professional at work? Maybe a highly capable and talented artist?
These people are the true description of living to one’s full potential and giving the best performance.
It’s a fact that leaders aren’t always born leaders. More frequently, they started as talents, and it takes deliberate efforts to grow talents into leaders.
The effort to develop talents, or people in general, could come in the form of onboarding, training, even to the management of talent’s performance. Actually, the bigger part of talent development lies in learning processes.
Interestingly, every individual, regardless of her/his talent, has a preferred learning style. Understanding these patterns of behaviour can help talent managers or people development practitioners incorporate the most suitable approach to learning processes.
The Learning Style Theory, in Brief
Written by: Rosa Sekar Mangalandum.
When the discussion shifts to learning, it is true that each and every individual is unique in his approach to learning processes. Educational psychology theorist, David Kolb, and his wife, Alice, first identified the four learning styles that consists of diverging, assimilating, converging, and accommodating.
In their 2013 publication entitled The Kolb Learning Style Inventory, the couple defined learning as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”. Their decades-long research found that learning style is determined by how individuals take in information and interpret that information.
Diverging Learning Style
Individuals with diverging styles learn best when they can take in information in a concrete manner and interpret that information in an abstract way. In formal learning contexts, this group prefers methods that permit group work and personalised feedback.
Assimilating Learning Style
Individuals with assimilating styles have dominant learning abilities that allow them to both take in and interpret information in an abstract manner. In formal learning contexts, they prefer lectures, readings, and other methods that permit the exploration of conceptual models.
Converging Learning Style
Converging learners naturally learn best by taking in abstract information and interpreting that information in a concrete way. In formal learning contexts, they prefer laboratory experiments, simulations, case studies – basically, methods that allow practical application of theory.
Accommodating Learning Style
Accommodating learners are the group that is inclined to take in and interpret information in a concrete manner. In formal learning contexts, this group flourishes in group assignment, field work, and project assignment methods.
How Do You Get Your Learning Style? And How Can It Help You Learn and Grow?
Your learning style is determined by your interactions with your environment. Kolb argued that not only personality, but also educational specialisation, professional career, current job role, and adaptive competencies are involved in the formation of one’s learning style.
Seeing the connection between a person’s profession and her/his learning style can help a talent manager facilitate the person’s growth. Similarly, understanding the association between an employee’s job role and her/his learning style allows a people development practitioner to design an effective learning method.
So, the next time you meet a remarkable executive, why don’t you consider her/his learning style? Or, on the next occasion of developing a group of talent, why don’t you find out your talents’ preferred ways of learning?
Learning Styles Influenced by Career Choice
Do you have to deal with the pressure to appear competent as a professional?
If you feel the pressure to work competently in your profession, then the pressure will influence the formation of your learning style.
Kolb’s study revealed,
- diverging learning style is generally associated with career in arts
- assimilating learning style is associated with career in sciences and research
- converging style is related to engineering and medicine career fields
- accommodating style is related to sales, social services, and education career fields
Need to develop sales professionals? You might want to apply learning methods that are accommodating style-friendly.
Learning Styles Influenced by Current Job Role
When linked to a person’s current job role, learning style can provide helpful hints for the design of learning methods.
Diverging learning style is more connected with personnel administration and counselling roles. So, when the need to develop talents in these roles arises, use a learning method that allows your talents to work in groups, listen to each other with an open mind, give and receive personalised feedback, and brainstorm in a supportive environment.
Assimilating learning style is more connected with data gathering, researching, analysis, and planning roles. So, when you need to develop talents to fill data analysis and planning positions, consider methods that facilitate logical thinking, exploration of theory, idea generation, and systematic planning tasks.
Converging learning style is more closely linked to production, engineering, and technical problem-solving roles. To grow talents in these technicalities-related roles, consider incorporating experimentations with new ideas, simulations, case method, and practical application assignments into the learning process.
Accommodating learning style is more related with roles that require actions to be taken amidst an uncertain environment, such as executive and general management roles. Growing talents for these roles will call for methods that allow hands-on experiences, actual goal setting, social projects, or other forms of real work with real people.
Almost Ready to Begin Your Developmental Journey?
This research-backed guidance is but an allegorical map, a small help to start your developmental program design. It’s tried and tested as shown by Kolb’s study, but it doesn’t mean that your programs will always have the same end results.
Kolb’s theories have helped many practitioners before, but as a practitioner you are free to discover with your own talents.
Kudos for starting, or restarting, your journey!
Full article, read here.
Kleinman, P. (2012). Psych 101 – Psychology Facts, Basics, Statistics, Tests, and More. Avon, Massachusetts: Adams Media.
Kolb Learning Style Inventory Workbook Version 3.1. (2007-2017). Korn Ferry and David A. Kolb, Experience Based Learning Systems, Inc.
Kolb, A. Y., & Kolb, D. A. (2013). Learning from Experience: Downloads – Research. Retrieved from Learning from Experience website: https://learningfromexperience.com/downloads/research-library/the-kolb-learning-style-inventory-4-0.pdf
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