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Learning Styles

Using Style Assessments to Aid Learning Retention and Application

February 15, 2012 by Anne Sandberg in Learning Styles

Training that “Sticks”

A common question is how do we make training more “sticky”, or how to help learners internalize and apply course material? One way to do this is through the use of assessments which can help to personalize the learning content and provide important insights for the learner which aid in content retention and application.

How Does This Work?

Style assessments are often administered to learners in advance of a workshop or other learning event to set the stage for participants by raising their awareness of their own (and others’) natural tendencies and preferences in a particular area. Perhaps the most widely known style assessment is Situational Leadership® (developed by Ken Blanchard and Dr. Paul Hershey in the 1960’s) in which the participant answers a series of scenario-based questions that result in a preferred, secondary and least-used leadership style.

The conclusions of the assessment in terms of knowing one’s own style (in this case, leadership) is usually less important than the subsequent training intervention in which the topic is explored, analyzed, taken apart and put back together again in a thoughtful and insightful way. Often, the concept of “style flexing” is key to the training as participants learn to “meet the other person where they live” and respond to them in a way that appeals to the other person’s preferences rather than acting out of one’s own preferences (i.e. dominant style).

Style assessments are quite useful in this way when the topic area is narrowed and a particular competency can be picked apart and examined in detail. For example, the Emotional Intelligence Style Profile has four quadrants based on the intersection of two scales.

The 4 styles are:

  • Reflective (facts-focused)
  • Organized (systems-mindedness)
  • Conceptual (open-minded)
  • Empathetic (feelings-focused)

The two scales that create the styles are level of thinking structure and drive/motivation (outcome or belief-driven).

Participants learn their own preferred Emotional Intelligence (EI) style, the pros and cons associated with each of the four styles, ways to find better balance by developing skills in all four of the EI styles, and helpful advice about how to flex one’s own style to better communicate and relate to team members with different EI styles.

Taking a style assessment in advance of a learning event (workshop or eLearning) raises individual awareness and readies the learner to jump into the content quickly and intelligently. It can also prepare the trainer of the style composition he or she will be meeting in advance of the course.

In the ReadyToManage Webstore, we have an array of style assessments, as well as fully-scripted, downloadable half-day Workshop Facilitator Kits that compliment the various assessments. Also, any workshop or learning event can be delivered entirely independently of the assessment. In terms of cost, style assessments run from $8.50 to $15 per person – an inexpensive, but elegant enhancement to formal learning.

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About Anne Sandberg

With a degree in Experimental Psychology and a masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Anne Sandberg has 25+ years of experience in the human resources, training and management consulting arenas. Anne is President of ReadyToManage, Inc. and can be contacted at Anne.Sandberg@ReadyToManage.com

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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