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2.5 Learning Styles


People usually have their own preferences in one of the four learning styles. The learning theory of David Kolb distinguishes 4 types of learning:
  1. From Concrete Experience (CE),
  2. From Reflective Observation (RO),
  3. From Abstract Conceptualisation (AC),
  4. From Active Experimentation (AE), testing new concepts in new situations.
It’s called “the learning cycle” because we often need to go around the wheel, experience – observe and reflect - analyse - test, to be able to perform a new skill.


Learning in the workplace is an essential component of professional training. It is important that the supervisor helps the trainees understand their learning process and try other learning styles in order to progress.


If the trainees prefer “learning by doing”, the supervisor should try to let them test and try different tasks already from the beginning.

This method could, however, make “reflective” trainees a little scared, since they prefer to observe you performing the tasks before they try.

As the work placement period proceeds and evolves, you can and should allow more room for the trainees to work independently in new situations. The best guide to know when such a point has been reached is your experience as a supervisor.


Supervisors often teach in the same style as they prefer to learn. This style might not be the same as the trainee’s.