Experiential Learning Centre

Experiential Learning Centre

Learning Styles

Our experiential workshops occupy a unique position in the learning and development arena in that they satisfy the learning needs of all learning styles, unlike most traditional training courses or eLearning tools. This is perhaps best viewed in reference to Honey and Mumford's popular learning styles model - activists, pragmatists, theorists and reflectors.

Traditional training courses can often be one of the worst learning environments for those with a preference for active learning. Too much presentation, too much discussion, too much analysis and not enough action. Conversely, our workshops are both active and interactive. There is always something going on to occupy the activist learner and maintain their attention and engagement.

One of the difficulties that pragmatist learners often have at traditional training courses is sorting the wheat from the chaff. From all of the information presented and the variety of options that might be explored, what exactly can they apply in the real world? Our experiential workshops provide an excellent alternative for pragmatist learners. Each exercise or activity always concludes with a review of how the learning can be applied back in the workplace, the primary focus being practical application. And each of our workshops also concludes with an in depth action planning session that is aimed at helping delegates transfer the learning to their own specific situation.

Traditional training courses are arguably most useful for those with a theorist preference to their learning. Theories and models are often presented by the trainer followed by discussion or role play exercises to consolidate the presentation. Our experiential workshops are designed around a flexible structure. Our facilitators will often make a 10-15 minute presentation of a model or concept either in advance of an activity or more often, as a summary to the learning that has taken place. Most significantly though, our exercises and activities are primarily based on real play rather than role play. Delegates are not asked to play a character or adopt a role but rather, they are encouraged to immerse themselves in the activity and deliver the tasks and objectives according to the briefing they have received. It is as a result of this real play that delegates are able to establish the concept and structure that satisfies the needs of theorist learners.

The needs of those with a reflective learning style are only partially satisfied by traditional training courses. One particular problem is that delegates are often asked to move straight from presentation into group discussion before returning to a presentation of the next part of the course. This provides little time for individual reflection. By contrast, our experiential workshops are multi-layered so that delegates are given the opportunity to revisit topics from different angles while simultaneously considering a new topic. This integrated approach to learning, combined with plenty of opportunity for individual reflection and review, provides a great learning environment for those with a reflective learning style.

A key feature of experiential learning is that it genuinely addresses the needs of all four learning styles via a highly integrated learning strategy. This of course, was the whole point of David Kolb's original learning styles model upon which Honey and Mumford's subsequent research was based. Over the years, most trainers and training providers have moved towards a programmed learning environment that is highly flawed. Firstly, it is primarily knowledge based learning. Secondly, it does not address the needs of all four learning styles. But most of all, it does not lend itself to the easy transfer of learning once delegates return to their normal working environment.

Against this, experiential learning ticks all the right boxes. The learning addresses knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours, in depth. A well designed experiential learning event accommodates all four learning styles. And significantly, delegates find it easy to apply what they have learned upon their return to work. This is not an automatic rite of passage. Our experiential workshops have been expertly designed and are continuously adapted and improved. They are supported by high quality facilitation and regular coaching interventions to ensure the right learning outcomes are achieved. And we do this by putting delegates (rather than the trainer) at the centre of the learning experience.     

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