Last post we talked about the importance of how we get information – through the combination of feeling and thinking, but what happens to that information once we have it? How do we do something with that learning that creates new knowledge for us? And when you think about it, what is it that causes us to move away from being in the moment/experience to the more abstract, conceptualising part of perceiving the world around us? That is the role of the second continuum of the 4MAT cycle – processing. Once we get new information or have an experience we process it in 2 different ways – we reflect and then we act.
Some people can spend a long time watching, reflecting and considering a situation from every angle before they decide to act, while others spend very little time reflecting and move straight into taking action. Again there is no right or wrong way, they are just different and while from the outside it might appear that some people use only one way, we all use both of these processes when we learn.
As a trainer or teacher it is important to recognise the difference between learners who like to spend more time watching, compared with those who are anxious to get started on using the information you are presenting. The more reflective types can appear disengaged as they watch, wait and reflect on the information and the task. They need time to clarify what it is that you are telling them or asking them to do. On the other hand people who prefer action get bored quickly, especially if all you are doing is delivering the content with lots and lots of power point slides. They can often seem to be a step ahead of where the trainer is up to and regularly jump in before listening to all of the directions.
Whether you prefer to process by watching or by doing, managing these two processes are significant features of your success as a trainer and for the success of your learners. If you have identified that you prefer to reflect, you probably really enjoy allowing lots of discussion in your training – try to build in some practical activities as well and move into them more quickly than usual. If you have identified that you are more towards the action oriented end of the continuum try allowing for conversations and reflective activities like journaling to be part of your training. Let these activities go on longer than you feel comfortable. The tension these preferences create in the learning environment can lead to stretching yourself into other ways of delivering your content that move beyond your personal preferences towards your less dominant styles.
Author: Melinda Zanetich - Director & Master Trainer - 4MAT 4Learning - Asia Pacific Region