The Art of Facilitation:  Learning Preferences

As teachers, and as learners, it’s important that we intentionally pay attention to the different ways our students learn. There are multiple models of learning styles that can aid us in crafting our learning tasks, or our HOW (in Dialogue Education parlance), to tap into a learner’s most facile way of learning.

One dynamic that is crucial in opening the learning pathway of a student is to honor his or her preferred way of perceiving, or taking in information. According to Carl Jung, our brains are hardwired to develop a more natural preference for attending to either:

  1. specific, concrete information that can be verified by experience (called sensing); or
  2. the meaning and possibilities of the information (called intuition).

For example, quickly look at this photograph.

Russian Women FeastDo you (first) see seven women, watermelon, American flag, table cloth, scarves? Or do you (first) see a celebration,  Russian women,  abundant feast,  party,  multicultural?  In other words, do you see first the details and verifiable information (sensing) or the themes and patterns (intuiting)?

Different people take in information differently. There is no right or wrong — it’s just different.

Here are some characteristics of each preference to keep in mind when designing and facilitating for engaged learning:

Sensing specific concrete verifiable five senses practical what is facts past or present

iNtuiting meaning possibilities big picture sixth sense patterns what could be themes future

Of course we all use both functions. However, it is through our most natural preference that our minds are most easily engaged. Learning tasks designed to engage both sensing and intuition respect each student’s preferred pathway to engaging with the content.

How do you (or do you?) keep in mind a student’s preferred way of taking in information? Karen Ridout 3


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