One constant in the accounting profession is the need for continuous training. Whether you are learning about the latest tax legislation, brushing up on auditing standards, or sharpening your soft skills, some form of training takes place regularly. This training may come in different forms, ranging from hands-on experience to reading self-study textbooks or participating in webinars. But just as workplaces have a wide range of diverse employees, individuals have diverse learning styles. Some learn from performing at task while others learn more effectively by studying a manual. Recognizing your learning style and seeking training that complements your learning style can make you more productive, help you better assimilate the material and lead to higher achievement and more creativity.
What are learning styles?
Learning styles are the characteristics, attitudes and behaviors that define your way of learning. Your learning style refers to the preferred way in which you absorb, process, comprehend and retain information. One of the most widely accepted guides to learning styles is the VARK model. VARK is an acronym that refers to the four types of learning styles.
- Visual – “See It.”
Visual learners prefer the use of images, graphics and diagrams to access and understand new information. Illustrations help them understand ideas and information better than explanations.
- Auditory – “Hear It.”
Auditory learners grasp new ideas through listening and speaking in situations such as lectures and group discussions. Repetition is a beneficial study technique, as is the use of mnemonic devices. They remember what they hear better than what they see.
- Read & Write – “Write It.”
Students with a strong read/write preference learn best through the written word. They may be copious note takers and avid readers, and can translate abstract concepts into words and essays.
- Kinesthetic/Tactile – “Do It.”
Kinesthetic learners absorb information through physical activities. They learn best through hands-on projects such as building and creating.
Chances are, just reading the descriptions above gives you a pretty strong indication of your personal learning style. If you’re not sure, take the VARK Assessment to identify your category. You may have a strong preference towards one style or straddle two or three styles. Over 60% of people who take the VARK learning style assessment are multimodal, meaning they have strong preferences in more than one learning style.
How do I choose the best training for my learning style?
By recognizing what kind of learner you are, you gain a better perspective on how to choose training that fits your preferred method.
Visual learners need to see people. Face to face is best, so live classroom instruction is an effective training method. When live instruction is not an option, video conferencing or graphics-heavy webinars can work well. Presentations that include colorful PowerPoint slides with graphs, charts, and images synced with the presentation help visual learners comprehend the material.
Auditory learners prefer to listen to instruction. They learn best when they can see and hear the assignment. Webcasts that allow the student to listen to a knowledgeable instructor and ask questions via live chat are useful for auditory learners. They can also take part in audio conferencing, or listen to recorded content. Engaging in discussion after the course helps them process and retain information as well. If you have a lot of material to read, try recording the material and listen to it later.
Read & Write
Learners with a strong read/write preference prefer written directions and are often good readers. Self-study courses that allow the learner to download and study printed materials are typically preferred. When you must attend live instruction or a webinar, take plenty of notes. Writing and rewriting words and notes helps gain a deeper understanding of main ideas and principles. Reorganizing diagrams and charts into statements will also aid in processing and assimilating information.
Kinesthetic learners are best served by live instruction or high-level technology. Training that uses real-life examples, applications and case studies can help with abstract concepts. They can benefit from web conferencing that takes advantage of screen sharing or polling. Long lessons with few breaks will cause these physical learners to tire out. Frequent breaks, or learning combined with physical activity, will keep them alert and engaged.
To reap the benefits of training, it’s important that you identify your learning style and seek out training that complements your preferred method of processing and retaining information. Once you’ve identified your natural learning preference, you can work on expanding the way you learn, so that you can better learn in other ways, not just in your preferred style. Once you start adapting to learning in new ways, you’ll find it much easier to assimilate information in a variety of situations and environments.
The ability to learn quickly and communicate effectively is vital for success in the professional world. Selecting training that works for you can help you learn smarter – not work harder.
Whatever your learning preference — hands-on workshops, collaborative discussion pods or detailed lectures — CCH Connections: User Conference 2016 offers training that will meet your needs. Register today.”