Dr Peter Honey explains how the Learning Style Questionnaire can be used effectively within L&D; beyond enabling greater self-awareness about learning style preferences.
The Honey & Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire always succeeds in raising awareness (useful in itself!) but leaves some people saying “That’s very interesting but now what?”
The purpose of this post is to provide some helpful answers to this question – for individual learners, and for L&D Managers, teachers/lecturers and anyone else who has a role in helping to promote effective learning in the organisation.
The discovery that people have different learning style preferences is good news for individual learners; things suddenly fall into place and they understand (often for the first time!) why they learn more easily from some learning activities and find others less appealing. Facilitators on the other hand, often find the fact that people have different learning style preferences, a complication. It would be so much easier if everyone had the same learning style and one size fits all! However, as we all know, this is simply not realistic. Given that varying talents help to ensure an effective team, being able to harness the different preferences is a way to further chances of success.
Some answers to the “so what” – Getting people interested in how they learn
The Learning Styles Questionnaire is an attractive way to get someone interested (often for the first time!) in how they learn – in particular, in the stages that comprise the learning cycle (do; review; conclude & plan). This helps them to become more aware of their learning habits and to see how their learning could be tackled more purposefully.
Helping people play to their strengths
Once someone knows their learning style preferences, they are better equipped to choose learning experiences that suit their predominant style(s). This helps them learn more easily and more effectively from a range of different learning opportunities.
Developing a tolerance for activities that don’t match learning style preferences
When it isn’t possible for people to avoid a learning experience that doesn’t suit their style(s), at least having some insight into their learning style preferences helps them to understand why they are finding “incompatible” learning more difficult. This helps them to be more tolerant (and even to persevere and acquire a liking for a previously unfamiliar method).
Helping people expand their repertoire
The Learning Styles Questionnaire introduces people to the idea that their learning style preferences are not fixtures and that it is possible to develop under-utilised styles. This helps people to see that there are advantages in working towards becoming better balanced, all-round learners.
In addition to the report outputs I have devised exercises designed to help people identify feasible ways to strengthen learning styles of their choice.
Other useful ideas for teachers/lecturers
There are numerous ways that organisational L&D, or anyone in a helping role – can use information about learning style preferences beneficially. For example, the information can be used to: