Learning styles

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Understanding about how adults learn, and the various approaches different people have to learning is essential knowledge for supervisors to have.

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Adult learning theory emphasizes certain features

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People learn things differently, depending on their personal preference, their culture and what it is they are learning. It is useful to always ask a supervisee how they learn things best so that you can start to understand how they think and work with them in a way that suits their approach. It’s important not to assume that your preferred way of learning is the same as their own.

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Kolb identified four main learning strategies that people draw on, although there are many more. People may rely on one main style, or a combination of styles.

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The way we learn (and think about learning) is influenced by the cultures we grow up with. For example, this Australian Aboriginal pedagogy shows how learning occurs through story telling, the use of symbols & metaphors, visual imagery, hands-on techniques, land-based learning, connection with community and reflective techniques.

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How we supervise can also be described as styles of supervision

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We use different styles of supervision depending on what’s required. For example, an authoritative style might be required to explain organizational policy or give instructions about protocols. However, an authoritative style doesn’t mean being rigid or dictatorial, with little sensitivity.

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Sometimes new supervisors rely heavily on facilitative styles, which they are comfortable with. However, supervision needs to go beyond debriefing and releasing tension. Affirming a supervisee’s worth should underpin everything in supervision, including when there is a need to challenge a supervisee, or ask them to do something differently.

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All four functions are inter linked and overlapping. The Mediation function acknowledges the competing aspects of supervision... both to ensure that agency policy is implemented - which implies a controlling function - and a parallel responsibility to enable supervisees to work to the best of their ability.

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Reflective Learning comes from critical social theory, which broadly speaking, promotes critical thinking.

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The Reflective Learning Model can be characterized by 4 stages: Describing an event or situation An in-depth exploration and analysis of the situation, including reflection on values and power dynamics Experimenting with alternative or new ways of seeing or acting Evaluating what has taken place

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Solutions focused approaches (used in coaching) do share some similarities with reflective learning. However, unlike a reflective learning model, they are used primarily to assist people to find their own solution to a situation. Also, they are not designed to facilitate an in-depth reflection on an individual’s thinking and reasoning.

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The GROW model is a useful 4 stage approach for exploring an issue, using a solution focused approach. Start by identifying a goal Discuss what is currently happening (3) Explore possible options for action (4) Identify and commit to a specific course of action

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supervision is about © Copyright Jane Wexler 2014

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supervision models how we supervise

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how people learn

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adult learners are internally motivated goal oriented and relevant are practical bring life experience & knowledge to learning are self directed

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learning styles listeners/auditory doers readers/visual writers

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learning styles (Kolb)

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8 aboriginal ways of learning Source: 8ways.wikispaces.com

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how we supervise common problems: too rigid; too authoritarian, or lacks sensitivity or….a style that actually lacks authority and supervision; lacks direction

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authoritative styles give advice & direction impart knowledge & information direct feedback & challenging beliefs and behaviours

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facilitative styles cathartic supportive affirm and support supervisee’s value & worth enable supervisee to release tension & emotion

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supervision models functions model (Kadushin, 1992; Inskipp & Proctor) Educative focus on educational development of supervisee to reach potential Supportive maintain supervisee morale, job satisfaction, harmony in relationships Managerial promote, maintain work standards & policies Mediation ensure agency goals are implemented and enable supervisee to reach their potential

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reflective learning

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developing critical thinkers

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I can put myself in others shoes think from their perspective consider why people see things as they do & aim to understand where they are coming from

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reflective learning model (Davys & Beddoe, 2010) stages

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solution focused models solutions focused results oriented includes the whole person collaborative relationship strength building not problem orientation

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solution focused listen to & ask powerful questions assess the person’s desire for change build trust balance trust & challenge hold the person to their commitment to action

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grow model (Whitmore, Landsberg)

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