Learning Styles: Recognition and Accommodation

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The recognition and accommodation of the diverse learning styles exhibited by team members can lead to improved interaction and greater synergy online or face-to-face. The most commonly recognized learning styles are derived from the main sense used for sensory input. Commonly, the three most pertinent and all-encompassing learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. If the learning styles can be properly identified and accommodated in both the face-to-face and online environments, the result will be greatly empowered people and more effective teams. Listening or speaking to facilitate the learning process characterizes the auditory learning style. It can be divided into two sub-categories: the listening learner who learns by hearing and the verbal learner who learns by discussion (Lamarche-Bisson, 2002). This individual thrives in environments primarily of lecture and discussion. A person of this style can demonstrate a profound listening ability or a talkative spirit, needing to repeat information in his/her own words for better understanding. A visual learning style involves thinking in terms of picture or words; this style is divided into two sub-categories: the visual/verbal learner who learns best when information is presented visually and in a written language format and the visual/non-verbal learner who learns best when information is presented visually and in a picture or design format. "It's as if he has a movie camera in his mind" (Lamarche-Bisson, 2002). The visual learning style naturally focuses his/her perception on the external qualities of visible objects, relating images to reasoning. Cognition is image-based and note-taking serves as a common mnemonic device, as conclusions are drawn based on imagined pictorial representations. Fleming writes kinesthetic learners require "concrete, multi-sensory experiences in their learning. Although learning by doing matches their needs they can easily learn conceptual and abstract material provided it arrives with suitable analogies, real life examples, or metaphors. They learn theory through its application" (Fleming, 1995). The kinesthetic learning style is characterized by a need to experience ideas and information in order to better understand them. This type of learner uses all senses, in some given combination, to facilitate the learning process. Each sense, sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing, is of equal potential importance to becoming immersed in the learning experience. The modern continuous-learner must receive proper attention in both face-to-face and online environments. This need not require great expense, simply an easel, an example, or a repetition of what was just said can make a world of difference to the various learners, and in turn, to the organizations that these learners compose. The online application of the auditory learning style in an academic situation requires the learner to be creative in his assimilation of information since the opportunity for direct auditory learning is minimal. Perhaps the off-line interaction between the learner and others in social or familial settings can supplant his need for discussion. In that way the learner can strike a balance between the diminished capacity for direct auditory learning in an online environment. This allows for a quasi-discussion format in which the verbal learner can express problems and develop solutions in his own mind. The online application of the auditory learning style professionally, allows for a wider range of learning options. In the professional environment, the learner may often be exposed to others who are involved in the online learning process. A professional learner in an online course associated with the company may be exposed to others within the company who are also taking the class. This provides opportunities for interaction among them, away from the online forum. Without the benefit of direct explanation or lecturing, he would...
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