Developers, What Style of Learner are You?

By Martin Schaeferle | July 15, 2012

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To succeed as a developer you must know and understand what your result should be, plan your direction on how to get there and use the right process with the right technical ability to build your application. Success comes from knowing how to write effective and efficient applications, which requires you use the right training / reference material to get up to speed in the technology you are using.

Will "just any" training material work? My opinion is that you will only succeed if you use training material that best fits your learning style and covers all learning styles.

Learning Styles According to Neil Fleming, designer of VARK (A guide to learning styles), there may actually be 18+ dimensions of learning, including temperature, light, food intake, biorhythms etc. Trying to work with 18 dimensions of learning styles and making practical sense from the information would be impossible in my opinion. Fleming identified four learning styles in his research:

  • Visual
  • Aural
  • Read/Write
  • Kinesthetic

Studies at www.vark-learn.comcategorized respondents to questionnaires by learning style. The studies identified that most people use multiple learning styles with Kinesthetic being used - to some degree - by the largest share of learners.

  • 61.6% prefer more than one learning style
  • 34.1% use all four learning styles

As the above shows there is not a dominant learning style (most are multi-modal) so in order to create a learning tool that is effective, my opinion is that you must cover all modalities and not just one or two. At LearnNowOnline we believe that no matter how you develop applications - whether it's using Visual Studio, SharePoint, SQL Server or Java - you must have a working knowledge of the technology.

And when it comes to learning your technology of choice, you'll learn best by using a method consistent with your preferred learning style. Below I have described the VARK learning styles in practical terms and how they relate to LearnNowOnline training and reference materials. Types of materials available include video, sample code, comprehensive courseware and hands-on labs.

  • Kinesthetic = watching video demonstrations, working with hands on labs, following the expert with sample code.
  • Read/Write = reading comprehensive courseware, taking notes
  • Aural = listening to the expert during the video including lecture on topics and code demonstrations
  • Visual = viewing the sample code, charts, diagrams and slides

To best accommodate different types of learners, we feel very strongly that training and reference material should address all four modalities of learning, which is why our training incorporates video and audio with add-ons for sample code, courseware and hands-on labs. Some Food For Thought:

  • What type of a learner are you?
  • Are you an efficient and effective developer?
  • Do you use reference and training material that fits your style?
  • Does your training material cover all the learning modalities?

Martin Schaeferle

Martin Schaeferle has taught IT professionals nationwide to develop applications using Visual Basic, Microsoft SQL Server, ASP, and XML. He has been a featured speaker at Microsoft Tech-Ed and the Microsoft NCD Channel Summit, and he specializes in developing Visual Basic database applications, COM-based components, and ASP-based Web sites. In addition to writing and presenting technical training content, Martin is also LearnNowOnline's vice president of technology.

This blog entry was originally posted July 15, 2012 by Martin Schaeferle