Continuing professional development: Find out about learning styles to learn and teach effectively
Learning how to learn is not a subject usually covered by school or university curricula. However, being able to learn effectively underpins any kind of education at any level and in any place, whether in the workplace or in schools, colleges and universities.
It stands to reason that if diversity exists in the way that people are taught, there will be diversity in learning styles. If pharmacists identify their own predominant learning style, they will find that continuing professional development (CPD) seems less of a chore. It will also help to raise the value of training and development programmes. For pharmacists who are teacher practitioners, being aware of the diversity of learning styles will be helpful when preparing classes. For owner managers, it will help when identifying the learning and training needs of staff and when formulating personal development plans.
Different learning styles
Although different learning styles are constantly being proposed, many trainers have taken their lead from the work of David Kolb1 who separated the learning experience into two main categories — perception and processing. Building on the work of Kolb, Honey and Mumford2 developed what is widely recognised as a model of learning styles that groups people into the following types:
- Activists Active learners or activists are people who want to do rather than to listen. They are the people most likely to say: “Let’s try this and see what happens” or “I’ll try anything once”. Activists prefer to be involved in group work rather than to sit passively listening to a lecture; they also enjoy brainstorming. An activist prefers to learn from experience. As the name suggests, activists thrive on activity and are constantly seeking new challenges. They tend to be outgoing by nature and are not afraid of being in the spotlight.
- Reflectors Reflectors enjoy thinking and they like to ponder and reflect. They tend to collect and digest information before drawing conclusions, and prefer to learn from an experience or activity. Reflectors are likely to say: “I need time to think it through” and will take their time working through data and information before drawing a conclusion. They tend to look at problems from all angles before making a move and are often quiet during discussions and meetings.
- Theorists People who fall into the category of theorists learn best when they can see things presented in terms of theories, concepts, principles and systems. They tend not to be interested in practical activities. Theorists seek to draw conclusions based on identified theory and tend to ask: “Is it logical?”. These peoples take an objective and analytical approach to learning and enjoy intellectual challenges.
- Pragmatists Pragmatists prefer the immediacy and relevancy associated with being able to apply their learning. They are quite happy to experiment and to pursue ideas that they find attractive. Given an experience, they want to move on and start planning the “what next” after an activity. This category of learner will say: “Let’s get on with it”, and is interested in the application of learning, trying out new ideas and in getting involved in practical decision-making and problem-solving.
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Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10977810
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