The importance of taking a flexible approach to apprenticeship training

It's probably not news to you that there are multiple learning styles. Different people take in and process information in different ways, and what works for one person might not work for others. Some might rely almost entirely on one style of learning, while some might use different techniques in different circumstances. There are no good or bad learning styles, and nor is any one person stuck with the technique they find easiest. Growth and development in how we approach education can occur at any time of life.

What's important is to recognise different methods of learning. When it comes to teaching apprentices and trainees, you'll get the best results if you stay flexible enough to accommodate different styles. It's very much about playing your apprentice or trainee to their strength. While some tasks will require very specific training, others can be approached in a number of ways. Here you will find a break down of the seven different learning styles you might encounter when working with your new apprentice – if you can identify how they learn, the process of qualification becomes much easier.

What are the characteristics of a visual learner?Visual learners take in information through observation.

1) Visual learning

Apprentices or trainees learning in this style (also referred to as "spatial learning") do best using images and video. They have the ability to visualise objects, plans and complex structural elements that are otherwise difficult to understand. A visual learner is someone who will absorb far more information from a diagram than a verbal explanation. These people can also learn a lot from simply observing a task being demonstrated. Visual learners excel in design based fields and strategic planning.

Mantra: "Watch and learn"

What are the characteristics of aural learners?Aural learners do well with verbal instruction.

2) Aural learning

This style (also referred to as "auditory-musical-rhythmic learning") relates to those people who learn primarily by listening. A typical aural learner uses rhyming as a memory prompt – we all know someone who does this. These people will listen carefully to verbal instructions, understand your meaning perfectly, and retain the knowledge better than those who learn in other styles. Aural learners are far more likely to desire music while they learn, and they can effectively anchor thoughts and concepts to music, which aids them in revising their new skills later. Aural learners are great communicators and do well in jobs where this skill is required.

Mantra: "Do as I say"

What are the characteristics of verbal learners?Verbal learners take on more information when they can talk through the details.

3) Verbal learning

Verbal learning (also referred to as "linguistic learning") relies on the written and spoken word. Unlike aural learners who gain knowledge from listening to instructions, verbal learners retain information by talking through the concepts. These people will also do well simply reading or writing information, although a conversation about a specific topic will yield better results. Like aural learners, those who are comfortable with the verbal style are very good communicators. These people typically make good writers, public speakers and teachers.

Mantra: "Repeat after me"

What are the characteristics of physical learners?Physical learners are very "hands on" and keen to get involved.

4) Physical learning

Those who learn in this style (also referred to as "bodily-kinesthetic learners") are people who take a hands-on approach to learning a task. When encountering something new, these types of apprentices or trainees will be eager to jump in and have a go. Physical learners often take a "trial and error" approach to self-learning and are very results driven. You might know someone who enjoys taking things apart and putting them back together again – this is a quintessential physical learner. These people tend to make great mechanics, construction workers, chefs, and other roles that require physical skills.

Mantra: "Do as I do"

What are the characteristics of a logical learner?Logical learners have a firm grasp on systems and how individual components fit together.

5) Logical learning

Logical learners (also referred to as "mathematical learners") are those that are process driven. They know that A leads to B, which in turn leads to C. Logical learners have a natural tendency for pattern recognition and excel at understanding relationships in systems, no matter how complex. These learners tend to have strong mathematics skills, and generally, the more information you give them during instruction, the better. If they understand an entire end-to-end process, they become far better at any single task involved. Logical learners make excellent accountants, computer programmers, and investigators.

Mantra: "Do it by the book"

What are the characteristics of social learners?Social learners are at their best in a collaborative environment.

6) Social learning

The aforementioned learning styles can be complemented by two additional learning styles. The first is social learning (also referred to as "interpersonal learning"). These people will do best when working as part of a team. Being able to bounce thoughts and ideas off other people and work collaboratively is how they excel. Typically social learners will be aural or verbal learners too, and boast the strong communication skills of those two styles. Social learners make good councillors, human resource professionals and sales people.

Mantra: "Let's have a chat"

What are the characteristics of solitary learners?Solitary learners get the best results when left to work through problems on their own.

7) Solitary learning

The second and final style element is solitary learning (also referred to as "intrapersonal learning"). Solitary learners do best working on their own. They will work problems over internally – this is how they will find solutions and retain information. Solitary learners can also have any other dominant learning style, and no matter the skills they are developing, they will take their learning into their own hands. These learners tend to have excellent problem solving skills, which can be applied to a range of roles from web development to security personnel.

Mantra: "Think it over"

The key to successfully completing an apprenticeship or traineeship is to give your new recruit room to work in the way that suits them best. Some learning styles naturally lend themselves to certain roles, but because styles overlap and shift, almost any learner can approach almost any job. To find out how to provide the best learning experience for your apprentice or trainee, contact MAS National today