July 2018 Business SCAN
To some degree learning is so commonplace that we assume we know how to do it. And to a certain extent this is true. But are we any good at it? Or do we take it for granted that we know how to learn, unlearn and re-learn? Learning and learning to learn requires conscious effort and in today’s busy world, learning is often one of those areas that gets squeezed out.
This month’s Hot Topic explores the importance of developing our learning capabilities for sustainability, staying relevant and building resilience.
There is no such thing as a learning style
It has long been held that having a preferred learning style – visual, auditory or kinaesthetic – has no basis in reality. Yet, it still remains a very popular way to think about structuring learning and communication.
A new study has confirmed that there is no such thing as a learning style. Students’ dominant learning styles were assessed and they were then encouraged to pursue learning techniques in-line with that style. Their end-of-year grades were not correlated in any meaningful way to their dominant learning style and those that managed to study in line with their dominant learning style did not achieve better grades than those students who ignored it.
Instead, there were specific study strategies, such as practising microscope work and using lecture notes, that were associated with better grade performance, regardless of students’ learning style. Other activities, such as using flash cards, were associated with poorer performance, perhaps because they were a sign of learning by repetition rather than deeper learning.
Research by the nineteenth-century psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, shows that in the absence of counter-measures, the average person loses up to 90% of new information after 30 days. To achieve regular learning, he recommends these antidotes: promptly record new learning; review these insights regularly; and apply them in practice as soon as you can.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
Sources: Wilkins A. (2018), KnowledgeBrief Guest Expert, Cass Business School and founder of Perspectiv; Husmann P.R. and O’Loughlin V.D. (2018) Another nail in the coffin for learning styles? Disparities among undergraduate anatomy students’ study strategies, class performance, and reported VARK learning styles, Anatomical Sciences Education, Mar 13; Pietersen, W. (2017) Learning How to Learn, CBS, Jul 17
Use a note book for one week to write down your learnings. Assess how this impacts the way you take new things in.
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This KnowledgeBrief Hot Topic is part of our monthly Business SCAN publication
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