LEARNING STYLES IN MENTORING
What learning style is typical for the mentor and the mentee?
Is it important to know?
Dialogue from the past
I am talking to one of my group’s mentors about her situation with the mentee.
-With the mentee, we talked about everything together, we figured out the situation, we discussed the possibilities. It appeared to be very simple and straightforward. However, my mentee failed. I realized that he did everything differently than what we agreed on. We discussed it again, but he told me that he still isn’t sure that he understands what I am talking about.
Sonata (program manager):
-So what did you do? Because as I know, everything worked out for him!
– Yes, he succeeded! While I was explaining the same thing again, I started drawing a scheme. And it’s happened! The mentee understood and connected all ideas. I realized that explanation and analysis by listening were complicated to understand for my mentee. I didn’t know that visual learning style was best for him. My learning style is auditory. I understand things faster and easier when I hear them. Even though we discussed and planned many things at the start of the mentoring, we still forget this one attribute. It was our mistake that we didn’t talk about how we used to learn.
Often I remember this dialogue when I’m listening to podcasts. They seem to be so practical! You can listen to them while walking or while on a bus, etc. However, I don’t listen to podcasts often and instead focus on looking for articles. I enjoy reading, analyzing, and noting them down. Why? Because the visual and reading style of learning dominates for me.
The podcasts are not meant for me. I can listen to them, and I do it sometimes. However, I am not a big fan of them. Even when I am listening to them, I have to stop from time to time and write notes down. That’s why I wouldn’t say I like live events. I prefer recordings instead!
At the beginning of the 21st century, learning styles were divided into Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. Later, was added the fourth category – Reading and Listening.
– Visual learning style. Learners understand a lot better from visual tools like graphs, schematics, multiple symbols – arrows, underlines, separating things with highlighting colors, etc.
! This is precisely the kind of mentee who mentor Ema mentored. Progress was massive after finding out that the mentee did well in visual learning. Instead of sitting down and talking or discussing, they immediately started drawing schematic sketches. That way improved their mentoring process and results.
– Auditory (Vocal) learning style. The people who use this learning style like to listen to recordings, podcasts or participate and work in groups. They also like to communicate by writing short messages. Even though they read these messages, it’s ok for them. It feels more like talking, not like reading.
! The “auditory” learner can repeat what was just said or ask a question that was just answered. They are doing that because they need to hear it again to understand it better and remember it.
If you are talking about the same topic over and over again, maybe your mentee is an auditory learner?
– Reading/writing learning style. The people who use this learning style mainly focus on written information. The perfect source of information is books, articles, the internet, etc.
! Let’s look on the internet! Is there more visual or written information?
Even though you will find both visual and written, it is evident that there is more written information. People who use this learning style can’t complain about the lack of information!.
– Kinesthetic (Physical) learning style. These learners have to try and do everything by themselves. For them, the best way to learn is when they can manipulate or touch material. For example, to remember spelling words better if they write them several times.
Demonstrations, films, videos, case studies, workshops, and other practical activities help them a lot.
! Video topics, films are essential not for the visual style but the physical style!
– Multiple learning style. This is a learning style for people who don’t have a dominant specific learning style. Depending on the situation, they use one or the other.
! Study done by researchers say that most people use Multiple learning style: 35% – use 4 styles, 13% – use 3 styles, 15% – use 2 styles.
Is it important in mentoring? YES.
At first, the mentors need to understand which mentoring styles work best for the mentee. That helps them thinking about how they could improve communication and sharing the experience with the mentee.
It’s because you can give off information in your learning style automatically without realizing it. That maybe doesn’t work for the mentee. Precisely that is portrayed in the dialogue with the mentor at the start of this post.
Both the mentee and the mentor should understand their learning styles. They can discuss that and agree on how they both will work. The conversation about learning styles could help avoid strange, awkward, and even uncomfortable situations.
For example, if your mentee is asking the same question over and over again. Is it a strange situation? Maybe yes. But maybe your mentee is just an individual who uses an Auditory learning style, and he/she is not a distracted individual who can’t remember your answers😊 .