Good Learning Environments

All of us need to keep learning, not only for our careers but also for our lives (continuing to exercise your brain can keep you young(er), remember?!). If part of that learning includes participating in or conducting a face-to-face classroom session, you might want to consider this five factor framework for an effective learning environment. 

1.  Format. 

This is the design by which the learning material is presented.  Does the session include the relevant theories (NT), ways to help participants develop their potential (NF), opportunities for participants to feel “at home” with their fellow “classmates” (SF), and efficient and clear ways to get the material across (ST)?  Is there time for reflection (I) as well as action (E)?  Is there structure (J) to cover the essentials as well as options (P) to meet needs as they arise?  Is there a mix of material and activities that appeal to different types?  Is there a theoretical overview (N) and examples of applications (S)? 

2.  Facilities. 

Is the venue conducive to learning (and to fun – remember when learning is fun, it is more likely to stick!)?  Can people see and hear (not only the presenter but each other), and be physically comfortable? Does the equipment work? Here’s hoping there are no pillars in the room, loud construction noises outside, uncomfortable chairs, power failures, etc. Tuning into the Sensing function helps here.  SPs seem particularly adept at finding facilities where fun and learning can combine.

3.  Facilitator. 

Does he/she have a command of the material as well as the skill to get the information  across?   Are participant questions encouraged and respected?  Is the facilitator able to use Perceiving (keep it flexible and follow the group’s needs) as well as Judging (know when to keep it on track and moving along)?  Every type can potentially be a wonderful facilitator.  Facilitators need to be true to who they are, and not try to use a style that is not their own. It is painful to watch someone try to be a stand-up comic when their strengths are elsewhere.

4.  Fellowship. 

Have the attendees coalesced to the point where they are free to share their views, laugh at themselves, or admit their mistakes or vulnerabilities?  I’ve always liked the concept of “The Courage to be Imperfect” from Rudolph Dreikurs, an Adlerian psychologist.  Participants can learn so much from one another when that fellowship is there and when they feel safe and are willing to risk making a mistake for the sake of learning.  Where there are a variety of types who have achieved fellowship, the training (at least when the topic is type) almost runs itself.  Good fellowship can often overcome or at least mitigate many of the previously mentioned challenges.    

5.  Fate. 

There are certainly things beyond anyone’s control.  I’ve been in a session where a participant collapsed from ill health and required the paramedics.  I’ve seen hurricanes threaten to blow in and the participants spending more time rearranging their travel than concentrating on the material. A recent class I attended was led by a presenter trying to overcome food poisoning. 

What other factors make a learning environment more effective for you?  When you make the list, stop to consider how your type influences both your ability to teach and to learn.


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  1. Vicki

    #1 by Vicki - March 23, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Jean - I really enjoyed this article, especially the section on format. As I learn more about type, I find the little anecdotal examples like this one to be far more useful than the long paragraphs most books contain.
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