As the weather gets warmer, it’s more and more common to see people learning to swim. This can be a great experience for some, and a traumatic one for others – for a number of reasons, but the one we’ll explore is learning style.
Whether you’re the one teaching or the one learning, you’ll find that there’s no one way for learning to happen. You could…
- Throw the baby in the pool and see what happens.
- Sit on the deck and watch other people swim.
- Shave your entire body and buy webbed gloves before getting in the water.
- Position yourself next to someone else and copy their movements as you go along.
You could do any number of things, really. There is no “right” or “wrong” way, and each of these methods has the potential for a successful outcome, especially if it fits with your individual learning style.
In the Learning Styles Questionnaire (LSQ), authors Peter Honey and Alan Mumford acknowledge learning as a cycle – the output of which is the possession of new knowledge or the ability to perform a new skill. The cycle looks like this:
The question then, is where to start? The answer is not the same for everyone – that’s where learning style comes in. Different people have natural preferences for different behaviors, which correspond to phases of the learning cycle, and determine how they will learn most effectively.
The LSQ learning style assessment identifies these behaviors in individuals and ties them back to the learning cycle, allowing participants to develop and awareness of their natural strengths and weaknesses and plan for a more balanced approach to learning.
- Do you have a preference for Experiencing?
You’re an “Activist” and the baby-throwing method would probably work well for you. You value action more highly than analysis, and “learn by doing.”
- Do you have a preference for Reviewing?
You’re a “Reflector.” You want to gather data and analyze it as thoroughly as possible before coming to a decision. You might want to observe other swimmers and wait until you’ve had time to consider every possibility before jumping in.
- Do you have a preference for Concluding?
You’re a “Theorist” – you have all the facts you need and you know what’s what. You’re not afraid to make a decision, and you may have already purchased those gloves I mentioned before getting this far into the post.
- Do you have a preference for Planning?
You’re a “Pragmatist” and there’s a duck right behind you. And another duck right behind him – and you’re all headed in the same direction. You trust your plan and follow through. You’re confident about getting in the water and moving forward (even if you have to keep an eye on the guy next to you).
Knowing your learning style – and understanding that you may learn differently than those around you – can help you with a lot more than swimming. Once you’ve completed the Learning Styles Questionnaire, you’ll be on your way to improved communication, team membership, project management, and decision making. A complete soft-skills training program with self-assessment, interpretation, and action planning, the LSQ is a precursor to better learning and better performance across the board.