The Science of Learning: How Emotions & Learning Styles influence employees’ ability to Learn

Amit Gautam
Amit Gautam November 04, 2020

One of the most important aspects for L&D, before embarking on the path of online training is to understand their audience. The end goal is training employees to enhance their knowledge and helping them work more effectively while understanding that every employee is different.

Each employee will respond in a different manner to learning content because of different reasons. Learning is heavily influenced by emotions which means people vary in the way they absorb and process information. Also, people have different learning styles which impact the way they understand, view and assimilate things. It therefore is essential for you as an L&D professional to consider that each employee learns differently and you will have to build your learning content accordingly.

One of the most extensively used models to identify learning styles is Neil Fleming’s VARK model that suggests that there are four main types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic. Most often, every employee has a little bit of each type. However, it is possible that one style is more pre-dominantly found than the other two.

Here are a few ways in which L&D can undertake employee training based on different learning styles of the workforce:

  • Learning content for Visual Learners

As the name suggests, employees who have this kind of learning style understand better when the learning content is presented to them visually. Graphics, videos, illustrations, icons, animation etc. are more likely to resonate among them. Since visuals are their preferred choice, adding pictures, graphs, numbers, and charts to the content is a great way to help them absorb the information better.

  • Learning content for Aural Learners

Aural learners or audio learners are those who like to physically listen to the training content. These learners often prefer traditional in-house training programs where they are able to hear the information. While designing online learning and employee training for them, you can use more voice-over videos, audio recordings, and recordings of in-house training sessions.

  • Learning content for Kinaesthetic Learners

These learners learn the best with their senses and the experience. This means they can assimilate information through tasting, touching, and smelling. While training this kind of learners, it helps to give them live demonstrations of the process and let them touch and feel to help understand the situation. For instance, if you are holding a training session over the operation of a new machine, you should give them the chance to experience the demo session. Similarly, if it’s a cooking training session, it is best to let them try their hand at the actual cooking while watching the video.

  • Learning content for Reading Learners

These employees, as the name suggests, learn best by taking in information that is displayed with the help of words. They prefer to read through texts to understand the information. The most effective means of communication for them is in the form of blogs, infographics, PDFs, written assignments and quizzes PowerPoint presentations etc.

While these varied learning styles can provide a foundation for L&D teams and leadership to design training content, many experts say employees and learners may not necessarily have only one specific learning style. Most have a preference for one learning style, but they are capable of learning through a variety of training styles. Learners remember training the best when they feel it is meaningful to them, when they get to be in the driver’s seat for their own learning, and when information is presented to them in an interesting assortment of ways.

It is, therefore, beneficial for L&D to combine different learning styles. This could mean designing an overall online learning program and then offering a customised element as per preferred learning styles of different learners. To understand preferred learning styles, one of the easier ways is to administer the VARK questionnaire to employees. While there are a number of tools to study learning styles, the VARK questionnaire is a simple, easy to administer and freely available tool that can be given out to employees to identify their preferred learning styles.

Based on the findings of the studies, L&D can then design learning content to optimize the best results. There are a multitude of online learning courses in the online learning ecosystem that can be leveraged for designing your overall training program.

At Plethora, we offer solutions that help businesses with more than 80,000 ready-to-use courses that are tried and tested, with proved efficacy, and are also compatible with any LMS to offer easy deployment for employees to quickly begin their learning journey.

In addition to deploying online courses, learning styles can be taken into consideration to further polish the learning experience. For instance, providing oral recording to aural learners, offering resources like diagrams/graphs to visual learners, undertaking aspects like experiments, role play or project for kinaesthetic learners and creating online reading options through an LMS for reading learners are some examples.

Understanding the different types of learners and adapting to their learning styles is an effective way to improve communication and help avoid frustration or misunderstanding. By combining different learning styles (along with a special focus on preferred learning styles of learners), it is possible to reinforce learning content materials in the minds of learners and give them a robust chance to remember the training. 

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