You can and should target every learning style at some point in every lesson.
If you can teach in a way that reaches all four styles simultaneously, you will be much more likely to hold the attention of your entire audience.
After looking at all of these four learning styles, you probably have the same big question I did:
How can one possibly reach all four of these learners at the same time?
Sure, if you were tutoring someone and asked the learner to take this learning style assessment, you could tailor to that person’s style.
But what do you do when all the learning styles are in the same room, trying to learn from you at the same time???
I have discovered one tool that will help you teach that diverse group. It is called the “agree and see if you’re right” technique, and it targets all four learners simultaneously.
The technique challenges each type of learner to process new information in the way that is best for them. The technique is incredibly powerful, and you can use it whenever your audience seems to be drifting.
We’ll get to that “agree and see if you’re right” technique in a minute.
In order to really understand and implement the “agree and see if you’re right” technique, we first need to take some time to learn about the concept of leading questions.
Leading questions are a great tool to use with all four types of learners.
To understand why, you first have to understand something about the human brain:
- It is made up of two parts that operate independently
- Each part controls a different mode of thinking
- Adjectives that are used to describe the left brain include logical, sequential, and rational.
- Adjectives that are used to describe the right brain include intuitive, holistic, and synthesizing.
The left side recalls the past; the right can envision the future. We know this because when the left or right side of a brain is damaged, the person loses the ability to perform the related functions.
How does this relate to leading questions?
In Bloom’s Taxonomy, a classification of learning objectives, synthesis is defined as “compiling information in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions.”
A question that inspires synthesis accesses the right side of the brain.
A leading question that inspires synthesis and gets people to pay attention must meet the following criteria:
- There has to be a right answer.
- The audience has not yet been taught the answer.
- The audience can figure out the answer.
- The answer requires some thought.
For example, once I explain that the left side of the brain stores memories and the right synthesizes, I can ask the following:
“Which side do you think you access to come up with presentation topics?”
The audience’s right brain will go to work on an answer. The question meets all four of the criteria.
When I hear someone in the audience say “Ooooooh,” I know the person has synthesized what the presenter is saying and has arrived at an aha! moment.
Aha moments come when people have put together, in a new way, information that’s coming from you along with what’s stored in their brains. They then come up with an answer they can express in their own words. When there is true understanding—and only then—synthesis is possible.
When the audience members come up with the answer, they are learning….
When they are learning, you keep their attention.
Back to the “agree and see if you’re right” technique.
You start the “agree and see if you’re right” technique by asking a leading question about any concept you’re addressing at that moment.
Also—and this is very important—the question has only a single correct answer.
After you ask the question, allow 30 seconds for audience members to write down the answer.
Allow another 30 seconds for them to agree on the answer with the person next to them and to choose which of them will relay their results to the rest of the room.
When one of the relayers supplies an answer, you can ask the other relayers in the room if they agree. If not, ask what they came up with.
After they have had a chance to share, you can tell them what you believe the answer to be, based on the data and content of your presentation.
Here’s how it benefits each learning style:
- The Step Learner gets the chance to see if he or she is right.
- The Talk Learner gets the chance to talk with someone about the answer.
- The Research Learner gets the chance to debate and agree on an answer.
- The Create Learner gets the opportunity to create his or her own answer.
This will give them an opportunity to see if they came up with the right answer (which all adult learners love to do).
As you use this technique, you will be able to recapture the audience members’ attentions when they are drifting. In the process, your audience members will have learned the actual answer and will have gained insights from the discussions with their peers.
When he first tried the “agree and see if you’re right” technique, one of my clients was astonished.
“Even the very reticent and closed-off folks leapt right into the discussion,”
I’ve seen groups of up to one thousand people erupt in conversation when this tool is used. It can work with any topic and at any time you feel the audience drifting away—as often as three times in an hour.
Use it, and they’re back. (Because it addresses all four learning styles.)
Want more teaching tools and techniques that will help you target all four learning styles simultaneously? Check out Bullseye here.