Remember that course in college when you said, "Wow! That was incredible. I can't believe how much I learned." Then there was that other class that left you feeling flat, bored, and not sure that you learned a thing. Or the time your spouse loved the well constructed, carefully outlined talk that was accompanied by succinct power point slides of the key points—but you yawned the whole time.
Why these differences?
Maybe it's clashing learning styles. Whether you were aware of it or not, differences in learning styles have probably caused some frustration or a lack of understanding in your small group. Of course, the personality, expertise, and enthusiasm of the group leader does make a difference. So does the nature of the content. But learning styles are a key factor that plays into these tensions, and their significance may not be intuitive for many of us.
So What Is a Learning Style?
A learning style is simply how one perceives and processes information. And we all do that differently. That's the rub, and what makes an awareness of learning styles important for those involved with small groups. Let's go back to the definition. To perceive information refers to the way we take in data: through our senses. One person may do it best visually, another through hearing, yet someone else may prefer to be actively involved.
Then there is the processing aspect. That's what the brain does with the information after it has been perceived. Here again are significant differences. Information may be split into parts, organized, clumped together, analyzed, manipulated—any number of things. Most of us can do all these forms of perceiving and processing, but when it comes to learning, we tend to have ...