How people learn

How people learn and 7 ways to help people learn better

How people learn

Welcome back to PowerPoint Training Online. This week we are straying away from PowerPoint and Microsoft.  But we are not going too far. This week we are going to look at how people learn.

It has been proven that different people learn in different ways. There are people that learn best by doing, some that learn best by reading and some by seeing. It is important for a trainer that you can cater to all these different styles. We are going to break each of these down so that we can truly understand why people learn the way that they do. And look at some training tips which can be used to help cater for the different learning styles.

It is important to note that everybody will learn using each of these methods, however, one (possibly two) will be more prominent than the others.

What are the different learning styles

Before we look at how people learn, you need to be able to recognise the different learning styles. How people learn can be split into three categories.

1.      Kinaesthetic (Practical) – People that learn by doing

2.      Visual – People that learn by seeing/reading

3.      Auditory – People that learn by listening

Each of these styles, impacted by a different sense that we as humans have.

One – Kinaesthetic (Practical)

Practical learning is learning by doing. This is by far the most dominant learning style out of all the learning styles. The majority of the population will learn by doing. They are hands-on learners. These type of learners can tend to fall asleep during lectures. I myself am a practical learner. I like getting straight into it and getting my hands dirty.

People that are a practical learner tend to write, make models, draw concepts and use their fingers for counting. They are always moving when they are learning.

Two – Visual

I remember when I was back in secondary school, I took woodwork as a subject. It was great, I used to love it. I always loved getting into the tool cupboard and just working with some wood. Me, I was a practical learner. Learn by doing. But we always had to do some theory before we started a project. I used to be so bored when having to read through pages. All I wanted to do was cut wood and glue stuff. But there was always one guy in my class that seemed to be better at the practical work. When I look back I now know that he would learn from the pages, then translate what he read into work. He learned better by being a visual learner.

When I create a PowerPoint presentation, I always make sure that I have a good mixture of text and images/graphics. The reason for this is that people will learn better when they see pictures and graphics and it remains in the mind for longer. It becomes more relatable.

You can read more into why we feel using images and graphics is so important in PowerPoint from our article – Why you should be using graphics and images in PowerPoint

Three – Auditory

In its simplest form auditory learning is learning by sound. To make it clearer imagine a composer listening to a new sheet of music. They will have it played for them, they will then listen to the notes and take it from there. Auditory learning goes much more beyond that though. People that learn from sound are listening to more than the words. They use pitch, volume & pace to put words together to make them comprehensible for themselves.

7 ways to help people learn

It can be difficult trying to build a training session that caters to all the different learning styles. Especially if you are time restricted. Catering for all the different learning styles will no doubt bore some people as they won’t be interested in learning that way, but if you don’t include it then there will be people that may struggle to learn.

Below are a few tips to help you cater to all those different learning styles.

1.   Provide a handout

A handout is a great way for visual learners to learn. You can provide then a handout and

they can learn at their own pace in their own time. Unless you set a deadline for the training to be completed. Providing a handout has other benefits too. Such as allowing learners to go back and look over it later, this then helps to cement the learning.

2. Provide pen and paper

Providing a pen and paper today may seem a little outdated. But taking notes will help a practical and visual learner cement the learnings to be had. Practical learners, learn by doing. Writing down information is an act of doing. Most times when people write they will also repeat read the words in their head.

As the words appear on the paper, visual learners see the words form before their eyes. They can then also take any notes with them to use for reference.

Truly, making the pen mightier than the sword.

3.   Create a video of the presentation

Do not worry, you do not need to have your face on the camera for this. You can record a

copy of your presentation via PowerPoint with sound. This could be some nice chilled music in the background or it could be you talking about what is on the screen at that time. This is very similar to what I do when I am creating my tutorial videos. Using video is also a great way to engage the auditory learners in the session. They will have got most of the information from listening to you talk about the topic, but if they want to go back over it later they can. If you provide the video, that is.

4.   Create e-learning modules

E-learning has taken the learning world by fire. No longer are you restrained to training

everybody in a room. You do not need to bring out of office guys into the office just to tell them something they already know. E-learning allows you to provide training to your teams no matter where they are, and it allows your team to carry out the training at their own pace in their own time. But we are not here to talk about the benefits of e-learning. We want to know how e-learning can help people learn. E-learning is usually a complete package built from presentations, videos, assessments and exercises. Each of these will offer their own benefits to different learners but as a whole, e-learning will help the people in the group that like to learn by themselves. It will help people learn through auditory learning. You need to have voice over else it may not make sense. If you include exercises then the practical learners will learn. And finally, the visual learners will get the chance to see each and every document included within the e-learning module.

5. Use exercises

Up till this point, we have looked at ways that you can help auditory and visual learners, let’s look at an option to aid practical learners. As these can be the ones that get most bored having to go through a presentation, it is a great idea to add interaction straight away. Ask questions and create exercises. Exercises can be simple or difficult depending on your topic. I have worked in a technical training role which is great for exercises. I was able to create training sessions that allowed people to play with technology hands on. They were able to get a feel for what they had to do when it came to their job. Creating role plays and scenarios also helps practical learners. If you cannot get access to equipment to try out on, such as a DR practising open heart surgery, you can with the right budget create simulations. VR is going to play a massive part in the training of the workplace in the coming years.

6. Ask questions

Asking questions throughout the learning journey is not only a good way to keep practical learners engaged in training but it will also help to cement your teachings. You can ask the questions verbally practising or you can have them prewritten onto your slides. This will then give the visual learners the chance to see and think about the question asked. There is also the benefit that auditory learners will here the right answer from another voice. When pitch, tone and volume are changed, it makes people listen. The human mind knows that somebody else is speaking and must decide whether they should listen or not.

7. Use Assesments

Assessments act in the same way that providing a handout and asking a question do. You can use the assessment to ask questions that supplement the learning. They do not need to be too difficult to answer. They just need to provide an answer that was covered within your training session. Assessments will help all learners learn. Due to the practical nature of answering question’s the practical learners will learn and visual learners get to the see the answers right in front of them.

Conclusion

Learning can be difficult at the best of times. Making sure that you cater to all the different learning styles does not make it any easier. But it is our job as trainers to make sure that we look after every single participant in our sessions and to maximise their learnings. From the list of 7 ways to help people learn, you should be able to manage every situation now. Most times you will need to use a mixture of the tips above. That is ok. It is more work for you and me but at least we know that we have done all we can.

And there we have it, how people learn and 7 ways to help them. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Please let us know what you think in the comments below.

Is there anything else you would like us to talk about. If so let us know below or send us a message on Facebook or Twitter. We are always online.

Until next time,

David

Microsoft UK IE

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