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Does Understanding Learning Styles Improve Learner Results? New Research Sheds New Light
A research report published in 2004 by the UK’s Learning and Skills Research Centre (Coffield, et al) posed the question, “Should we be using learning styles?”
The results of two recent investigations into the issue – one conducted at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and the other at Yale College of Wrexhem, North Wales – indicate that the answer is a resounding “Yes.”
In examining 13 models of learning styles, Coffield concluded that “it matters fundamentally which model is chosen.” The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®)/Whole Brain® approach, the report further noted, might prove “especially valuable in education and training since its raison d’être is to foster creative thinking and problem solving.”
At the University of Pretoria, a study involving innovations in the Tooth Morphology unit of the School of Dentistry revealed considerable improvement from using the HBDI® and Whole Brain® Learning. The results of the study, to be published soon, indicate a significant enhancement in students’ retention, participation and attitude towards the content, learning, group interaction and problem-solving. Average marks for the unit increased from between 60-70% in previous years to 97% after implementing a Whole Brain® Learning approach.
In the study we feature here, Yale College of Wrexhem, North Wales undertook a project to investigate the use of the HBDI® as a tool for motivating teachers and students to use flexible teaching and learning strategies while creating an innovative and valuable learning experience for students within a Learning to Learn project. Ultimately, scores improved across a wide range of subjects after the redesign intervention occurred, as shown below.
Some of the project’s key findings:
- Improvements in overall assessment scores and individual successes were reported throughout the College based on interventions using the HBDI®, ranging from a 0.8% average improvement in overall scores to 51.2%. In individual tests, innovations in teaching methods using the HBDI® also led to dramatic results, such as an improvement from a 38% average to a 90% average in one class’s test scores.
- The use of HBDI® profiles provides a tangible focus which motivates the learner.
- Using HBDI® profiles and employing discussions on learning encourages the learner to face learning challenges.
- Focusing on learning methods rather than solely on subject content/skills improves teacher/learner relationships.
- There are statistically significant differences in the thinking preferences of males and females (shown in figure 7 below). This has a direct impact on both subject choice and preferred teaching methods.
- The thinking profile had an effect on learner willingness to try new teaching methods.
Designing Learning With Thinking Preferences in Mind
Unlike learning style models that tend to stereotype students, the Whole Brain® approach provides a way of determining more appropriate or preferred teaching and learning strategies based on learning and thinking preferences. The project organizers felt that it might serve as a tool for transforming the learning culture at the college as well as improving the learning process for individuals and groups.
According to Carolyn May, a Herrmann HBDI® Certified Practitioner who was the Professional Development Manager at Yale College during the project, the HBDI® provided the key to unlocking the learning potential of students across the college. The application of the Whole Brain® Model was successful both in terms of student motivation and achievement.
In a comprehensive research report that outlines the project and its outcomes in detail, May notes that the HBDI® served as a motivating catalyst, a means of identifying high and low learning preferences, and the key to finding appropriate learning strategies to address learning challenges.
After uncovering student thinking preferences using the HBDI®, teachers were able to develop innovative learning methods that appealed in a more balanced way to the quadrants of the brain as identified in the Whole Brain® Model.
They were also able to precisely identify areas of thinking in which students may have difficulty, discuss these issues effectively with the students, and implement specific teaching strategies to address the difficulties. As a result, students reported improved relationships with staff along with greater motivation, personal insight and confidence that they could achieve results they had previously thought were impossible.
Make the Functional Fun (and Win a Prize!)
“Fun” and “compliance” are two words you don’t typically see together. But maybe it’s time to change that.
Fun is, in fact, one of the most effective ways to engage, learn and gain compliance. It’s rare that someone will turn down the opportunity to have some fun, and by injecting a little fun into the functional, researchers are finding they can turn an unpleasant or tedious activity into something that’s actually enjoyable.
Now it’s your turn: On the Whole Brain® Blog, you’ll find some examples of how people are using fun to change behavior. We invite you to share your best ideas of how you can make the functional fun. Post them to the comments section of the blog entry, “Putting the Fun into Functional.” A few lucky commenters will win a fabulous prize from Herrmann International!
THINC™ Webinar: How Wharton is Helping Leaders Redesign Their Thinking
At our next THINC™ Webinar, join Ann Herrmann-Nehdi and her special guest, Charles E. Dwyer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of the Educational Leadership Division at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, for a lively conversation about his experience helping managers and leaders redesign their thinking to revitalize the relationships that affect the quality of their lives and the profitability of their businesses.
Recognized as an outstanding teacher and lecturer, Professor Dwyer is Academic Co-Director of Wharton’s Leading and Managing People and Building Relationships That Work programs, using the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) as a tool for helping participants better understand and change their own thinking and behavior, as well as that of others.
Professor Dwyer has held the positions of chairperson of the board of the Wharton Center for Applied Research and director of the Management and Behavioral Science Center. He has more than 30 years of experience in corporate and organizational consulting and executive development for various clients, including IBM, the New York Stock Exchange, PepsiCo and numerous others. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this distinguished educator.
THINC™ Webinar Details:
How Wharton Helps Leaders and Executives Redesign Their Thinking for Better Results
Speaker: Charles E. Dwyer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO, Herrmann International
Date: May 12, 2010
Time: 1:00 PM EDT / 12:00 PM CDT / 10:00 AM PDT
Space is Limited!
TO REGISTER: Visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/795412984
Missed a THINC™ Webinar? Recordings from previous THINC™ Webinars can be found in the Webinars section of our website.back to top
Whole Brain® Thinking: Ignore It At Your Peril – Our Feature Article in May’s Training+Development (T+D) Magazine
The May 2010 issue of ASTD’s Training+Development (T+D) Magazine will have a special focus on Whole Brain® Thinking.
In her feature article, Whole Brain® Thinking: Ignore it at Your Peril, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO of Herrmann International, discusses what we’ve learned about the subject since the magazine originally published a series of articles by Herrmann International’s founder Ned Herrmann in the early 1980s.
Ann also addresses the brain’s role in workplace performance and provides critical take-aways every learning professional must have for success in the 21st century.
This issue will be mailing to subscribers soon, and an “E-dition” will be available on the T+D website, accessible to all ASTD members. If you are attending the ASTD International Conference & Exposition in Chicago this May, you can pick up a free copy in the Publication Area.
Ann Herrmann-Nehdi to Present at the 2010 ASTD International Conference & Exposition
Herrmann International’s CEO, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, will present the following sessions at the ASTD International Conference & Exposition next month:
M310: Building a Practice: Pondering the Past, Predicting the Future
Monday, May 17 at 4:00 pm
Ann Herrmann-Nehdi joins Marjorie Blanchard, Bev Kaye, Elaine Biech and Kim Barnes to explore what it takes to be successful with clients, celebrate the chance to be a business owner and ponder what matters most, professionally and personally.
W303: Four Secrets of the Learning Brain
Wednesday, May 19 at 1:15 pm
Room W179 AB
PLUS Virtual Conference Selection
Ann will share a powerful set of tools on how to improve impact and outcomes by designing and implementing learning using a proven Whole Brain® approach.
Can’t make it to Chicago? This session has also been selected for inclusion in the ASTD Virtual Conference.
Toronto Certification Special: Buy One, Get One!
We’re offering a special incentive to attend the Herrmann HBDI® Certification workshop in Toronto this July: Buy one, get one free!
With the purchase of one seat in Toronto, your organization will receive an additional seat at a certification workshop – in Toronto or any other location with available seats between now and the end of the year – at no charge. That means two people can become Herrmann HBDI® Certified for the price of one.
This is an excellent opportunity to save on the four-day certification or, for those who have previously attended a Level I Certification, to complete Level II Certification to become fully certified.
The free seat is good only for certification workshops held in North America between now and the end of the year. Visit our online calendar to see the full schedule of 2010 Certification dates and locations, or contact your Herrmann International representative if you have questions about the Toronto Buy One, Get One offer.
Hurry! Space is limited! Reserve your seat in Toronto and get another seat for free by calling 800-432-4234, ext. 6 today.
Recent News on Thinking and the Brain
- Recharge your brain with a yawn. Researchers say that yawning has nothing to do with boredom or fatigue; rather, it helps cool down our brains so they’ll function better.
- Can’t make up your mind? Your rational brain might be taking over. When faced with a complex decision, don’t discount the importance of your emotional brain.
- A new American Management Association Critical Skills Study indicates skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation (the four Cs) will become even more important to organizations in the future. All four C’s can be improved using a Whole Brain® approach.
Upcoming Certification Workshops
Join the ranks of the Herrmann HBDI® Certified Practitioners!
May 4 — 7 Herrmann Whole Brain® Certification, New York, NY
May 6 — 7 HBDI® Level II Certification, New York, NY
July 13 — 16 Herrmann Whole Brain® Certification, Toronto, ON
July 15 — 16 HBDI® Level II Certification, Toronto, ON
For detailed location and registration information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-432-4234 and select option 6 for client services.
Learn more about the Toronto Buy One, Get One Certification Special.
Host a Dedicated Certification Workshop: When you host an internal dedicated certification workshop, your participants will explore the concepts, tools and skills necessary to deliver the HBDI® with individuals, pairs and teams in a learning environment that is tailored especially to their needs and the organization’s objectives.
If you are interested learning more about the benefits of a dedicated certification workshop, contact your Herrmann International representative.back to top
Get Social with Herrmann International
Join in on the conversation at the new Whole Brain® Blog.
Follow Herrmann International on Twitter @herrmannintl
Follow Ann Herrmann-Nehdi on Twitter @annherrmann
Access Previous Issues of BrainBytes™
You can find all of the previous issues of the monthly BrainBytes™ Newsletter in the BrainBytes™ Archives on the Herrmann International website.