Analysis of Learning Methods and the Impact of Computer-Based Training (CBT) Programs
Compare and contrast the four differences in learning styles. Propose ways a trainer can help each type of learner.
The four differences in learning styles are often characterized by convergers, divergers, assimilators and accommodators (Mumford, Honey, 1992). There are significant differences between each, and the intent of this analysis is to compare and contrast them with each other. The converger learning style typifies learners who rely on conceptual learning including visualization and abstract learning, supported by active experimentation. It is comparable to the assimilator learning style in that both rely on abstract conceptualization of learning materials and concepts, in addition to a reliance on theoretical models. The converger learning style differences from the other four in its intensity of focus on taking information and intelligence and turning it into pragmatic thought (Mumford, Honey, 1992). The other learning styles have different outcomes of successful learning experiences, making the converger learning style one of the most unique.
The diverger learning style relies on creativity to see how ideas and concepts can be brought together to create new insights and learning experiences, frameworks and concepts. The diverger learning styles requires all these aspects to further support and strengthen their pragmatic view of learning. This learning style is different in that it concentrates on how to quickly take the abstract, conceptual aspects of learning and translate it into concrete, pragmatic and usable experience. They are often seen as the most nonconformist of the learning styles as they concentrate on how to contextualize learning through creativity and the association of initially incompatible elements (Mumford, Honey, 1992). The diverger learning style is one that also requires personal learning platforms or strategies, often called scaffolding strategies, to provide them with the optimal learning experience (Najjar, 2008). A diverger learning style will also concentrate on how to contextualize concepts and use the scaffolding techniques to over time build models of their experience, in effect creating taxonomy of knowledge for a given subject. This is why scaffolding is so critical for this type of learner.
The assimilators are the most conceptual and theoretical of the entire group of learning styles, these learners rely on abstract analysis and association of elements, creating conceptualization of various subjects and their concepts through reflective analysis and observation (Mumford, Honey, 1992). These learners are also the strongest at creating and continually adding to theoretical models of a specific area of interest, and often have the ability to associate complex, abstract concepts with previous lessons learned to create their own unique taxonomies for learning as well. They are the most successful type of learning style for using inductive reasoning in problem solving as part of the learning process (Mumford, Honey, 1992). The use of inductive reasoning for learning is often predicated on selective case studies that are part of a scaffolding or individual learning strategy or program (Najjar, 2008).
The accommodators, like the divergers, rely heavily on practical and pragmatic experience throughout their learning process. This is the most tactile and sensory-based learning style, with a heavy emphasis placed on active learning through participation. Students with this learning style need to also have their own unique learning program or strategy in place to ensure they attain their long-term goals, often created to use concrete and hands-in training to explain complex concepts over time (Najjar, 2008). They are unlike any other learning style in that there is a low tolerance for exceptionally abstract or conceptually-based learning, with the translation of these elements into hands-on examples instead.
For students with each of these learning styles, there needs to be a significantly different learning program or strategy in place, often tailored to their specific needs. The greatest implication of teaching a student from any of these learning styles is the need for creating an individualized learning plan that capitalizes on their innate strengths in a given field of study while taking into account their learning style (Najjar, 2008). This approach to individualized lesson plans can drastically increase the overall effectiveness of these programs to ensure a higher level of long-term learning and retention as a result. All successful programs deployed across these learning style shares a common purpose of enabling autonomy, mastery and purpose so long-term learning can take place (Lakshmanan, Lindsey, Krishnan, 2010).
With these concepts in mind, the following recommendations for how a trainer can assist persons with each learning style are discussed here. Fort the converger who best processes information through abstract conceptualization and active experimentation, the use of training programs that include the practical application of ideas and deductive reasoning are the most effective. These can include assigning complex, abstract problems that require pragmatic, hands-on solutions including mathematical and statistical skills applied to a real-world problem. For the converger, the association of concepts and the continual building out of their expertise is what gives them mastery. The trainer must look at how best to create autonomy of the learning experience, mastery of the specific materials and required knowledge, and most of all, purpose in the effort to learn. Convergers must feel like they have attained a challenging goal for long-term learning to take place (Mumford, Honey, 1992). A trainer will therefore need to concentrate on these aspects of creating an effective program to ensure that convergers can find the three values of autonomy, mastery and purpose in for the efforts to pay off with long-term learning and retention of knowledge.
In devising learning programs for divergers, trainers need to concrete first on the concrete examples of how the concepts and frameworks being taught have real-world significance. After establishing this area of the learning plan, the trainer needs to build a lesson plan that deliberately seeks to find discussion and debate in the class, encouraging divergers to participate and analyze key situations and contexts of the learning experience. Using participative learning will significantly increase the success rate for this type of training program, as an egalitarian-based approach to learning will encourage divergers to take a mastery role of their learning process (Bedwell, Salas, 2010). Divergers also need to be challenged at an individual level heavily, which also points to the need for individualized training programs (Najjar, 2008). Finally, divergers need to also be challenged as part of a group, given the chance to solve complex problems and debate their outcomes in smaller teams. This is critically important for this type of learner to fully grasp the long-term learning potential of their in-class experience.
Learners with assimilator learning styles excel at abstract conceptualization and long-term retention of concepts more through reflexive observation and less through the hands-on learning styles that accommodators excel at (Kolb, Kolb, 2005). Assimilators are best taught through the use of abstract examples and designs of frameworks they can contribute to. They are also best challenged to extend beyond their own inductive reasoning assumptions through shared responsibility for projects and programs. Assimilators require learning programs that are highly targeted at soloing extremely complex, challenging problems so they can make full use of the inductive reasoning in a collaborative environment (Mumford, Honey, 1992). The last groups, accommodators, are more focused on learning through concentrate experience and as a result, thrive in those areas of learning that require experiential learning. They are also more focused on how to translate these very tactile-based approaches to learning and create implicit or tacit knowledge from them (Mumford, Honey, 1992). This type of learner cares more about how to assimilate intelligence and knowledge more through hands-on examples and experience, and less about the traditional didactic approaches to training or teaching that fit other learning styles (Mumford, Honey, 1992). This type of learning style also requires a more thought-out individualized learning plan that seeks to capture and hold the attention of the student over the long-term through pragmatic examples turned into learning experiences (Najjar, 2008).
One of the most frequently used training methods is on-the-job training (OJT). Compare and contrast the characteristics of an informal OJT program with that of a formal one.
Too often companies choose to use an informal OJT approach to save on costs and also increase the speed at which a new employee becomes acclimated to a new company. Informal OJT programs put greater strain on internal resources however and put the quality of the training entirely on the trainer completing the work. This makes the trainer's ability and talents the most critical link in the overall OJT effectiveness of a given program. OJT programs also have the ability to quickly create a bond of communication across generations of workers, as the older workers have the chance to become mentors, many finding meaning in their work again (Bedwell, Salas, 2010). Informal OJT is often used in fast-changing organizations that require an exceptional level of immersion and cultural knowledge to excel in a given role. Examples include those in direct sales, trading and transaction-centric industries, especially those in services-based sales organizations as well. It is common for insurance companies to have both informal OJT…