So I was making a teepee for my Native American diorama the other night….. Well, sort of. Time for true confessions- I was actually watching the babysitter help my son make the teepee! I was thinking how grateful I was to have the help and how much my teepee making skills suck. I would have perished out there on the rolling plains! I don’t think the purpose of this assignment is to humble the parents, although that may be the unintended consequence in my case! I think Native American dioramas might be assigned because people learn in different ways and making a teepee is a great way to learn especially if your preferred style is more tactile. Understanding your own learning style, what your preferences are, and when it might be good to push out of your comfort zone is part of knowing yourself. Self-awareness is critical to career development. Once one is out of college there are no more syllabi that tell us what to read, when papers are due, or how to master new learning.
David Kolb created a learning style inventory that assesses how we learn and gives us a look into the four learning style types. Each of us has our own learning style, and it is in understanding that style that we are able to learn more effectively and increase our retention. Here is a very basic description of the 4 learning styles- take a look and see which you may identify with:
Diverging: People with this learning style are best at viewing concrete situations from many different points of view. Their approach to situations is to observe rather than take action initially.
Assimilating: People with this learning style are best at understanding a wide range of information and putting it into concise logical form. If this is your learning style you probably are less focused on people and more interested in abstract ideas and concepts.
Converging: People with this learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. If this is your preferred learning style you have the ability to solve problems and make decisions based on finding solutions to questions or problems.
Accommodating: People with this learning style have the ability to learn primarily from “hands-on” experiences. If this is your style you probably enjoy carrying out plans and involving yourself in new and challenging experiences.
So which style is more like you? Are you a combination of two? The best way to know is to take the Kolb learning style assessment which will offer you a much more complete discussion of these styles than what I have provided here. This is especially helpful for those whose companies may not immediately invest in employee training or tuition reimbursement for an additional degree. Look at these again, and think of some real life examples of how the various learning styles are consistent with the way you have learned in the past. Or, you may want to go online and do some additional information gathering and research…hmm.. I wonder what learning style that is indicative of? Still reading? Congratulations- you are hired as your own Chief Learning Officer!