Learner preference is one of the many factors to consider in the development of training. Knowledge of how a learner wants to learn can be beneficial to not only the learner, but the facilitator, and the organization.
“An evidence-based way of incorporating individual learner differences into training modality selection is to pick training modalities based on learner preferences, with the assumption that if a learner enjoys using a certain modality or modalities to learn, the learning will, by default, be more engaging, which could increase training effectiveness.”[i] Understanding learner preferences is a modern twist to understanding their learning styles. “Learners are active participants in their own learning experience, and they have their own beliefs about the best ways to learn.”[ii]
Here are some helpful guidelines to understanding learner preferences and how they can aid in building an effective learner experience, based on TTA sponsored research from Training Industry.
An employee’s job plays into their preferences. Because every employee’s job responsibilities, areas of expertise, and functions are different, they typically don’t all prefer the same modality for training. For example, research shows, those with higher complexity in their jobs normally prefer virtual learning where they can engage at their own pace and on their own time.
The training topic can sway a learner’s preference. Different topics are taught and retained in a different way. Learners may prefer ILT for soft skills training, but eLearning for compliance training. Taking the time to understand how best to deliver a certain topic will likely benefit the learner’s experience.
Using multiple modalities can increase the chance of meeting the learner’s preference. Often times there is a large audience for training, each with their own preference on learning. According to multiple studies, most training programs use three to six modalities to deliver the topic.[iii] Designing training to include multiple modalities increases your ability to meet the learner’s needs and deliver more effective training. According to research by Training Industry, using at least one preferred method increases training effectiveness by 50%.
So, you can imagine, if multiple modalities are used, and your learner’s preferred one is incorporated, your effectiveness percentage increases. In fact, as an organization, if you learn to use all modalities, and utilize them based on your audience, your training program could be 20% more effective.[v]
To conclude, understanding the learner experience is often a pain point for many organizations as learner preferences are constantly changing. Their preferences are becoming more diverse. They are adapting to newer modalities and a more hybrid approach to training. When designing training, if you understand and target learner preference, the organization will get better results. The learner’s experience will be enhanced, and the effectiveness of the training will improve, leading to increased retention and the potential for a larger return on investment.