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LEARNING PREFERENCES: DESCRIPTIONS

SENSOR

Sensors involve themselves fully and without bias in new experiences. They enjoy the here and now and are happy to be dominated by immediate experiences. They are open minded, not skeptical, and this tends to make them enthusiastic about anything new. Their philosophy is: "I’ll try anything once." They tend to act first and consider the consequences later. Their days are filled with activity. They tackle problems by brainstorming. As soon as the excitement of the activity dies down, they are busy looking for the next. They tend to thrive on the challenge of new experiences but are bored with implementation and longer term consolidation. They are gregarious people, constantly involving themselves with others, but in doing so, they seek to center activities around themselves.

REFLECTOR

Reflectors tend to stand back to ponder experiences and observe them from many different perspectives. They collect data, both first hand and from others, and prefer to think about it thoroughly before coming to any conclusions. The thorough collection of data about experiences and events are what count, so they tend to postpone reaching definitive conclusions as long as possible. Their philosophy is to be cautious. They are thoughtful people who like to consider all possible angles and implications before making a move. They prefer to take a back seat in meetings and discussions. They enjoy observing other people in action. When they act, it is part of a larger picture which includes the past as well as the present and includes others' observations as well as their own.

THINKER

Thinkers adapt and integrate observations into complex but logically sound theories. They think problems through in a vertical, step-by-step, logical way. They assimilate disparate facts into coherent theories. They tend to be perfectionists who will not rest easily until things are tidy and fit into a rational scheme. They like to analyze and synthesize. Their philosophy values rationality and logic. They frequently ask: "Does it make sense?" "What are the basic assumptions?" They tend to be detached, analytical and dedicated to objectivity rather than anything subjective or ambiguous. Their approach to problems is consistently logical. They rigidly reject anything that does not fit with it.  They prefer maximum certainty and feel uncomfortable with subjective judgments, lateral thinking, and anything said in a joking manner.

ACTOR

Actors are interested in trying out ideas, theories, and techniques to see if they work in practice. They positively search out new ideas and take the first opportunity to experiment with applications. They are the people who return from management courses, brimming with new ideas they want to try out in practice. They like to get on with things and act quickly and confidently on ideas that attract them. They tend to be impatient with open-ended conversations. They are essentially practical, down-to-earth people who like to making practical decisions and solving problems. They respond to challenges as opportunities. Their philosophy is: “There is always a better way, and if it works, it's good."

Adapted from Learning Styles Questionnaire, Peter Honey and Alan Mumford

 

LEARNING PREFERENCES: SELF-DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

SENSOR:

Do something you have never done before, at least once a week. Read an unfamiliar newspaper with views that are different from yours. Change the layout of the furniture in your office. Visit a part of your organization you have neglected.

Practice "small talk" with strangers. Select people at random from your organization's phone book and talk to them. At large gatherings, force yourself to initiate and sustain conversations with everyone present.

Deliberately fragment your day by taking a break and changing activities every half hour. Make the switch as diverse as possible. If you have been sitting down, stand up; if talking, be quiet and so on.

Force yourself into the limelight. Volunteer to chair a meeting, represent your group, etc. Practice thinking out loud on your feet. Identify a problem, and bounce ideas off a colleague. Give impromptu speeches that last for five minutes. 

REFLECTOR:

Practice observing, especially at meetings where the agenda items don't involve you directly. Study people's behavior. Keep records about who talks, who interrupts, who listens. Notice when people lean forward and lean back. Notice the details of their non-verbal speech.

Keep a diary and write down details of your day at the evening of each day. Reflect on the day's events and try to draw any conclusions from them. Write your conclusions down in detail. Practice reviewing after a meeting. Go back over the sequence of events and note what went well and what didn't. List lessons learned from this activity.

Give yourself something to research that requires painstaking gathering of details from different sources. Go to the library and spend time in the reference section. Practice producing highly polished pieces of writing. Draft watertight policy statements or procedures.

When you have written something, put it aside for a week and force yourself to do a substantial rewrite. Draw up lists for and against a particular course of action. Slow people down who want to rush into action.

THINKER:

Read something "heavy" for at least thirty minutes a day. Try philosophy; logic, or the theory of relativity. Try a textbook on management if these seem too tall an order. Try to summarize what you read in your own words.

Practice spotting inconsistencies or weaknesses in other people's arguments. Analyze organizational charts to discover overlaps and conflicts. Take two op-ed pieces of different views and do a comparative analysis.

Do a detailed analysis of how you spend your time each day for a week. Examine work flow in and out of your department, or all the people you have had contact with and with what frequency in the course of your work.

Collect other peoples' theories, hypotheses, and explanations of events. Try to understand the underlying assumptions of each theory and see if you can group similar theories together. Practice asking probing questions -refuse to be put off by vague answers.

ACTOR:

Collect techniques - practical ways of doing things. In meetings of any kind, concentrate on producing action plans. Make it a rule never to leave a meeting without a list of actions you and others will take between meetings. The actions should be specific and include deadlines and who is responsible for assuring the action is taken.

Make opportunities to experiment with new techniques. Try them out in practice. Experiment in routine settings with people whose aid you can enlist -don't take too big of a risk with this. Study the techniques of others and model yourself after them.

Subject yourself to scrutiny from "expert" people you trust who know your technique. Let them coach you through the use of the technique. Ask repeatedly for feedback on the use of the technique.

Tackle a "do-it-yourself" project. Renovate a piece of furniture, build a garden shed, or an extension on your house. At work, calculate your own statistics, be your own organizational development consultant, visit with others in search of a practical solution to a work problem. Learn to type or learn a foreign language.

Adapted from Learning Styles Questionnaire, Peter Honey and Alan Mumford

 

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