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Researchers became interested in studying learning styles on realizing that individuals learn from different experiences. The different learning styles include pragmatists, reflectors, activists, and theorists.
Pragmatic individuals are open-minded and welcome new ideas, practices, and theories. They tend to be experimental, and they actively search for new ideas and practices, which they can test. These individuals are proactive, and they prefer acting on their ideas rather than wait for others to test them before they can follow.
Activists are people who tend to be proactive in what is happening around them. They like the pragmatic people, actively search for new ideas and practices, and are eager to have new experiences. They are also enthusiastic to act on new ideas, and they think of the consequences afterwards. This group of people tends to solve problems by brainstorming, and such individuals are always engaged in ways of finding new ideas.
Theorists are people who make keen observations and then convert the ideas from these observations into reasonable theories. They are usually logical and rational, and they evaluate problems from different perspectives before assimilating their findings into sound theories. They tend to be procedural, and they are restless until their ideas are put into a coherent theory.
Reflectors are people who choose to review events and ideas from different angles, and they are strong adherents of data analysis to aid decision-making. These people also prefer being listeners in discussions, and they take the opportunity to gather as much information and ideas from others, and they use them to put their arguments forward. Their arguments are usually a composition of observations and analysis that they and other contributors may have highlighted.
The organizational culture can be taught effectively through lecturing; company hierarchy would be clearer if taught using charts and pictorials, while teaching staff how to use equipment can yield better results if done through demonstration or short films. In addition, training on safety precautions would be effective when role-played.
The four learning styles are more effective with some training techniques than others are. Having mentioned that activists are proactively searching for new ideas, they do best when they get an opportunity to be active in the learning process. They prefer role-playing; in-tray exercises; case studies; discussions; project-based work, and computer-based learning. These people will not learn much if they are engaged in passive training techniques because they seem to lose enthusiasm if they are not allowed to be in the lead. Such training method as videos and lectures fail to bring out the best from such individuals.
The reflectors prefer lectures and videos because they present them with an opportunity to assess and analyze the information presented to them. They also tend to appreciate guided learning, case studies, and group discussions since they avail them an opportunity to assess ideas and arguments from different people with diverse perspectives. Generally, they tend to favor training methods that provide an opportunity to refer before making conclusions.
Theorists prefer guided reading and lectures since they allow them to compare new ideas to existing theories to test their practicability. They have a high affinity for academic training methods since they can compare the findings to those made by other academicians. As a result, they tend to research as much as possible before they can come up with coherent conclusions.
The pragmatists tend to have a strong inclination to training methods such as in-tray exercises, case studies, and role-playing in a quest to get a feel of how things work in reality. They prefer training methods that provide an immediate opportunity to work on their ideas because they do not like waiting to test them.
The various training methods that are used in learning have numerous benefits and drawbacks. E-learning techniques for instance include computer-based training, web-based training, and technology based. These techniques have the advantage in that they are reachable from anyplace and anytime as long as one has access to the required device (Girard 2009). They also facilitate other forms of learning such as chats and online discussion groups. The disadvantage is that it requires high-tech equipments, which tend to be costly initially, and technological hitches affect the smooth operation of this type of training.
Films and other audio training techniques have the benefit of being consistent since a learner can always refer to the material. In addition, the technique allows different learners to share copies of the learning material. The downside is that they take time to build, and they are not easily modified.
On the job coaching has the benefit of allowing the trainee and the trainer face-to-face contact; hence, providing better opportunities for learning and teaching (Girard 2009). However, the disadvantage is that the method is costly especially when the number of trainees to the trainer is extremely high.
Case studies afford the learner an opportunity to understand how similar issues have been handled in similar settings. Furthermore, they promote creativity since there is no defined answer to case study questions; instead, emphasis is on principles used to find a solution. The disadvantage is that sometimes they can be exceedingly lengthy, which can make the exercise a bit boring.
Role-playing involving dialogue enables the participants to practice communication skills, group decision-making skills, and conflict resolution skills (Stone, Sands, & Stone, 2007). The drawback is that some participants may feel intimidated; hence, deterring them from delivering what they are capable of doing.
In conclusion, there are four types of learning styles namely reflectors, pragmatists, activists, and theorists. The four types respond differently to the different training methods because of their varying personalities.